Not My Best 5K, But An Enlightening One
I ran my fifth 5K yesterday morning through the streets of Washington DC. It was exactly one year ago that I ran my first 5K in the same race, getting a time of 39:33 with running the entire race. This time I got 36:26, and it was my second slowest time. I'm used to getting better with every race that I run. I ran my 5K in March at a blistering 34:51 (for me, haha), breaking my record by 30 seconds.
This time was different, and I knew it would be. I haven't trained outside because of allergies and moving to a new neighborhood that lacks a consistant sidewalk network. I've been doing more strength training, so my cardio was somewhat reduced. And I woke up with a stomach ache and sore muscles from my previous workout on Friday. So I went into the race with reasonable expectations.
Once I started, I could tell it wasn't going to be pretty. I was already looking at my HRM to check the time after 5 minutes. My legs were definitely still sore, and my inhaler didn't help much so my HR shot up to 180 within a few minutes and stayed in the high 180s most of the time I ran. Oh, and it was humid, bleck. But, I set a goal. Even if I don't run this entire race, I'm running the first 2 miles as fast as I can.
Running towards the US Capitol on Pennsylvania Ave is pretty darn awesome. So at least I had a goal that I was working towards. Once we rounded the corner and ran in front of it, I saw Mile Marker 1 pop up in the distance and saw I was on a pretty good pace for myself. I crossed Mile 1 in about 11:30, so I was happy.
This is where I started questioning my ambitious goal of running the first 2 miles. I slowed my pace and stopped to walk for 30 seconds at the water station. Around 20 minutes in and my lungs were ON FIRE (imagine Chalene Johnson yelling that in the Turbo Fire video, that's how I felt). Yes, yes I'm on fire. But I refused to stop until I passed Mile Marker 2. And I stuck to it. I passed it right around 23:30, for an 11:45 split. Not too shabby...
I stopped to walking for a minute or two after passing Mile 2, and I really wanted to try to run the rest of it without another walking break. Yeah, that didn't happen. I was completely spent and I knew it. So I ran for probably half a mile, walked again, and ran thinking I was going to see Mile Marker 3 soon. Nope, it was still .2 miles ahead despite my Map My Run telling me I had just hit 3 miles. Not sure what was going on there, but whatever.
Passed Mile Marker 3 and knew a record time was completely out the window, but I wanted the best finish I could muster. I made a feeble dash for the finish and that last .1 mile felt like it was going to kill me. Crossed the finish line in 36:26 official time and had a HR of 191. Then I limped off to the popsicle stand and had one of those red white and blue rocket ones, haha. I totally earned it.
I learned a few things from that race. I will not always beat my record from the race before, everyone has off days and this was one of mine. I can't always count on hills in a course to give me a boost in speed (happened in the last race). My strength training is not a complete replacement for actually running outside to prepare. And primarily, even if I'm not going to break a record, I might die trying. I'm in need of some ibuprofen and an iced coffee today... haha.