Somebody pinch me. I think I’m still dreaming.
I started getting pre-race nerves yesterday at the end of the work day. I was going for a big goal and unlike in May I didn’t have a back up race in case I didn’t succeed.
Race morning came and with it a brand new Oiselle running top. (That’s a definite perk to running a race on your birthday. Thanks Mom!) I put it on and started getting nervous again, of course.
We got to Furman with plenty of time for me to get in my 20 minute warm up. The nerves were in full force then. I stuck close by and ended up doing most of the warm up on the track.
As usual, I had a few extra minutes to wait since the start was delayed 10 minutes, not due to weather thankfully. The weather was amazing! Plenty of time for a pre-race pic
Then it was time to head over to the start line. Thanks to my new Garmin 220, I actually knew what time it was. (You’ll probably hear me rave about that watch a few more times in the future.)
I got as close to the start as I thought I could but really didn’t like how far back I was so with just two minutes to go, I edged over to the side and tried to get a little closer. Since I didn’t have to do too much weaving once the race started, I think that was a good decision.
Before I could think too much about it, we were off.
The only thought in my head in my head was 7:00. That was my goal. Keep the pace at 7 and throw on a sprint at the end if possible.
I loved the first downhill. That definitely helped. There were a lot of people around but it never got crowded. I did get whacked on the arm by some guy going past but that wasn’t for lack of space. I think he just had some alignment issues. ;)
As we headed down the mall I started seeing 7:20ish numbers on my Garmin. At first I thought that might be because all the trees and buildings were interfering with the satellite connection (and part of it may be) but I know I started to unconsciously slow down just a tad. I can’t tell you how many times I looked down at my Garmin throughout this whole race.
When I passed the first mile marker I noticed that my Garmin was off, distance-wise, starting from the first mile. (It ended up measuring 3.05.) That didn’t bother me though. If there’s a discrepancy, I’d rather have that kind. (as opposed to a 26.70 marathon) Just a little later I got my first split, 7:06. I told myself that I needed to pick up the pace and quickly.
I don’t remember much about the second mile except wondering how I was going to maintain this pace for another 2ish miles. I kept telling myself that I had just a mile and a half or just a mile and a quarter to go.
Mile 2 ended up being my best mile. I clocked 6:59. (My Garmin stayed consistently .05 behind the mile markers.)
Then came mile 3 and the only hills on the course.
When we turned onto the street with the bridge (I’m bad with street names) I remembered the first time I ran this race with my mom two years ago. I had just gotten through a weird back thing and was taking it easy and running with her. That hill nearly did her in.
With those “positive” thoughts in my head I knew that this hill would make or break my race. (Little did I know that there was another hill just before the finish waiting for me. I’ll get to that soon.) I put my head down, shortened my stride and started pumping my arms. I hadn’t come this far to fall apart in the last mile.
After cresting the hill I didn’t feel great but I knew that I was on the home stretch. My pace was much slower than I wanted to be and I felt like I was almost to that run-so-hard-you-puke point but not quite.
As we ran down the mall I tried desperately to pick up the pace. I think I managed a little improvement. When we got to the circle in front of the PAC circle I was so ready to turn and head towards the stadium. Whoops. We weren’t going in the gate I thought we were. Nope. We had a nice little incline before turning and running towards the other gate.
If I’d had any extra breath I might have said something like “you’ve got to be kidding me!” Instead I dug as deep as I could to get up that hill because I knew it was all downhill from there. Plus, I let myself look at the total time and knew that somehow, even with the first hill in mile three, I still had a chance at a sub 22. Mile three came in at 7:06 again. (Don’t know how that happened.)
Finally I rounded the curve and was in the stadium. I don’t know how football players run so fast on the turf. It’s definitely a different sensation.
I saw the 21 on the finish clock and took off. Somehow, I had done it. I had come in under 22 minutes. Then I crossed that line and stopped my Garmin. I didn’t even care that my finish line pick will be of me stopping my Garmin. I was not about to forget this time. :)
That’s right, almost 1 whole minute off my former 5k PR. Officially I clocked a 21:34, good enough for 5th place in my age group and 159th overall. There were some speedy 25-29 year old this year. Last year that would have been good enough for 3rd in the 25-29 age group.
I’m still in shock.
In fact, I didn’t even make it back to the finish after getting my finger pricked (post coming on the study next week, I promise!) to see Mom finish.
She smashed her PR…24:39! Absolutely amazing and good enough for 2nd in her age group!
One final thought on my new PR. When I mentioned the one minute PR to my cousin and how I got it, he hit the nail on the head. He said that that kind of PR shows that I didn’t know how to train before. I wholeheartedly agree. I am so thankful for my coach and can’t wait to see what lies ahead!
Next race? San Francisco Second Half Marathon!!