This was a PR (yay!) though a rather anticlimactic one since I got stuck behind walkers during my only other 5 mile race. (I didn’t count the Autism Speaks 8K in May as a PR because the course was short.) So I went into this knowing that a PR was extremely likely, which makes it a little less exciting. I’m more proud of the PRs for which I had to train hard.
Before I go into the nitty gritty race details and a riveting analysis of my splits, let’s talk about my race prep on Saturday. I picked up my race packet early in the morning at Rogue Running downtown and then ran 4 easy miles by the water. Went home, grabbed some lunch, then headed out to meet some friends to go caving. Doesn’t everyone explore caves before a race?!
The weekend of the 8K coincided with plans for a group trip to Inner Space Cavern a bit north of Austin. We did the Hidden Passages Tour, which definitely did not involve legitimate spelunking or being crammed in a really tiny space. We had to crouch periodically but otherwise it wasn’t very physically taxing, which was good for the day before a race. I was initially a little concerned about feeling claustrophobic but once we were actually in the caves it didn’t even cross my mind. Taking pictures on an iPhone was a challenge — especially since each of us had a flashlight, which created some weird glares– but I think I got a few decent ones:
Also, there were antelopes and goats out back. And a zebra, naturally.
After our cave tour (which took about 1.5 hours) we checked out a tiny brewery nearby. I was a little apprehensive about drinking beer in the afternoon before a race day but I was careful about drinking at least as much water as beer and didn’t get a second beer until I’d eaten some mediocre lo mein from the food truck nearby. I rarely drink more than 2 beers in a night– so it’s unusual for me to get a hangover with headache, nausea, etc.– but I think what usually does me in is getting dehydrated from drinking more alcohol than water. I had two of the Texas Pecan Brown Ales (which I recommend if you are a fan of the 512 Pecan Porter like me) and I felt fine this morning.
Speaking of this morning, I woke up around 3:30 after dreaming that I couldn’t find the race start and then couldn’t get back to sleep. It was weird because the race was in the same area as the Turkey Day 5K and this wasn’t a very high pressure race for me. Really, the most thought I’d given it was to try running 7:30 for the first mile and go from there. I think some of the anxiety stemmed from not racing for over 2 months. I haven’t to do the early wake up, eat something that won’t upset my stomach, pin bib to shirt, etc. routine for awhile.
I got up at 5:30, had some coffee and a Clif bar, and hit the road a little before 6:30 so I could park at the stadium in Cedar Park before they closed the driveway. It takes me 20-30 minutes to get to races in Cedar Park but I love that they always have ample parking and actual bathrooms, though the ones at the stadium were filled with crickets in various stages of life and death.
I warmed up with roughly a mile of easy running and some striders and headed to the start line. As is typical for me at shorter races, I started off at a fast pace– 7:00– and then had to work to rein it in, especially because the first mile was mostly on a slight downhill. After that the race was mostly long ascents followed by long descents. I did a fairly decent job of not falling off pace on the hills–I think the slowest time I saw on my Garmin was 8:10– but still think I need to run more hills. On the other hand, I don’t think anyone passed me on the uphill portions of the race even though I felt like I was passed by a lot of people overall. Once I realized sub-7:30 pace felt doable I just tried to focus on maintaining that pace, not dying on the uphills, and not overdoing the downhills. In retrospect, I probably could have pushed more earlier in the race because (as seen in the splits at the beginning of this post), I still had some energy at the end. I also narrowly missed an age group award 😦
Overall I liked this race and will happily sign up for it again next year as a tune up before the longer races towards the end of the year. It’s also nice to have an 8K PR that’s a bit closer to my potential. I ran 37:30 on a short course in May and knocked more than 30 seconds off of that time about 4 months later. It’s motivating to know that my insane mornings at the track are paying off. (The weather probably helped too– 70 and sunny today vs. a million degrees with humidity in May).
One of the reasons I wanted to run this race was to see what pace I can reasonably aim for at the Run for the Water. Here’s what McMillan says:
1:17:39 is 32 seconds slower than my PR (set on a flatter course than Run for the Water but with an undiagnosed stress fracture). This is what sub-1:17 looks like:
I don’t think it’s completely outside the realm of possibility? Maybe with more hill running and tempo runs between now and November 1st? Tell me in the comments if #sub117orbust is crazy.