I ran a race today! It was far from my best 5K time but I truly feel happy just being able to run. Also, for once my pacing in a 5K wasn’t a complete disaster and I managed to pass someone right at the finish line!
The build up to this race was a bit of a mess. Here’s a summary of my running in 2017 thus far:
- January: Houston Marathon
- February: Recovery from Houston Marathon/easy pace runs maxing out at 10 miles
- March: Injured
- April: Started running again…slowly. I’ve maxed out at 6 miles so far. Managed two track workouts but both were pretty conservative– didn’t check my watch during the repeats, just ran what felt like a hard effort. On Sunday I ran a 7:39 mile that felt like 5K effort. So I thought that maybe I could aim for a sub-24:00 5K.
Yesterday I still wasn’t 100% sure whether I would run the race– 2.5 weeks of regular running seemed like too little time to prepare for a race. But packet pickup (which was Friday from 3-7 at Austin State Hospital) gave me an excuse to visit Pinthouse Pizza. So I got my bib, declined the other swag (cotton t-shirt– already have too many of these), and fueled for my race with some beer and pizza. In the end, the race’s proximity to questionable pre-race carb loading is what made me decide to run.
Speaking of which, I loved that this race is so centrally located. An 8:00 start time and a 10 minute drive from my apartment meant that I could wake up at my usual time (6:00) and have plenty of time to eat something, get to the race, and do a 1.5 mile warm up. The course is two laps around the flat, tree-lined ASH grounds and there’s a ton of parking. The race raises money for the hospital and the course is USATF certified. Honestly, this is definitely one of the best local 5Ks I’ve run and I’m not sure why it took me until 2017 to hear about it!
Before the race I set my watch to autolap every 0.5 miles. I figured this would be a good way to see my pace without checking my watch every 2 seconds. This worked out really well and is something I plan to do for future 5Ks. I didn’t want to constantly check my pace since I knew this would not be a fast time for me. But I also have a tendency to start too fast in short races (today was no exception), so getting a split before I was a full mile into the race helped me settle down before I completely dug myself into a crater.
I treated the race like 6 x 800m repeats on the track (a workout I’ve done many times) plus a final hard push. For sub-24:00 I had to run around 7:40 pace, so I focused on running 3:45-3:50 for each split. The slight uphills and downhills, needing to reel myself in after the first half mile (“LOL you are NOT going to be able to sustain this!”), and my general lack of track work and racing meant that I wasn’t as consistent as I would have liked. But I was able to work a downhill with 0.5 miles left and I had enough speed left at the finish line to catch a guy who’d passed me earlier. I can’t remember the last time I passed someone at the end of a 5K!
My official finish time was 23:47. This time last year I could run 10 miles at this pace, so my race today was far from peak fitness. But it felt good to get back to racing after a 3 month hiatus and have a baseline that I can hopefully improve on over the next few months.