Monday, October 31, 2011

I didn't see that one coming

I had a race Saturday morning. Just a small, local 5k put on by my gym to benefit Habitat for Humanity. Since the course goes through my neighborhood, and I ran the same race last year, I was definitely familiar with the route. The course features rolling hills throughout with one big hill thrown in just for fun.

My hope was a PR, so I knew I'd have to finish under 31:14. It was doable, but my time to beat was set on a super flat course and I wasn't sure how much Saturday's hilly course would affect my time. Granted, on my practice run earlier in the week I ran the 5K course in about the same time as my "time to beat," but still...I never count my chickens.

Saturday morning was brisk but sunny--perfect running weather. I found K and we settled in with the crowd. We both decided to use our iPods that day, and I really relied on mine to keep me in the zone and on pace. (Thank you Soundgarden and The Naked and Famous!) After a few short announcements, we were off!

The run itself was pretty much what I expected. I kept myself at somewhere between uncomfortable and "you're asking for trouble, young lady!" whenever I could, opened it up on the downhills, paced myself on the uphills and mostly tried to remind myself that no matter how uncomfortable it was, I only had to go a half-hour, max. Soon enough, I was hitting the halfway point, which meant just a few shorter hills left. I kept one guy in my sights during the second half of the race, trying my best to not let him get too far ahead, and we even leapfrogged a bit on some of the hills earlier on. But I was finally able to pass him for good on one of the last downhills, and I tried to put the hammer down since I knew the end was near. Unfortunately the race ends on a slight uphill, so I saved just enough gas to get me where the final 100yd flat stretch begins. As I rounded the corner onto the final stretch, I saw the official time clock: 29:20!

I was still under 30 minutes with less than 100yds to go! What the hell?? A sub-30? Oh, crap--DON'T BLOW IT. I didn't think I could waste :40 seconds in the short distance I had left to cover, but I didn't want to take any chances so I sprinted with everything my legs could give and finished.


My very first sub-30 5k, and on a super hilly course! I was--and still am--THRILLED. It also came as a total surprise since I haven't been working on short distances and haven't been doing any speedwork at all. But perhaps all the long-distance/half-marathon training I did this fall is paying off here as well? It stands to reason that if you can sustain an 11 min/mile pace for 2.5 hours, you should be able to sustain a 10 min/mile pace for 30 minutes. I don't know. Makes sense to me, I guess. Or rather, it's as good an explanation as any at this point.

Whatever the cause, it seems like the perfect way to end what has been an amazing racing year for me. Thank you for being so epic, 2011 Racing Season!

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