The upside to running the same race as your super speedy coach is that he finishes with plenty of time to come back and pace you in to the finish.
The downside to running the same race as your super speedy coach is that he finishes with plenty of time to come back and pace you in to the finish.
Seriously, my heart felt like it was about to explode during the last quarter mile.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
A friend let Mom and I stay at her house last night so that we wouldn’t have to get up an hour before the crack of dawn to get out to Simpsonville. 5am over 4am any day.
The weather, while not perfect, was much cooler than normal South Carolina June weather. Every degree helps.
We got to the start with a half hour to spare, plenty of time to get in my 2 mile warm up.
Once back at the start location I tried to get as close to the front as I dared. It’s a packed race though so I wasn’t able to eliminate all crowding issues.
Right at sunrise (6:16) we were off. The plan was 7:20 early miles and, if possible, negative splits. That would bring me in sub 37, a PR by over 4 minutes. I knew a PR was almost guaranteed so I wanted to pick a challenging but achievable goal. I think I might be getting better at estimating my capabilities.
The first half mile was pretty crowded. Thankfully, the crowd thinned quickly. At first I thought I need to pull over and tie my shoe. I’m not sure what it was but thankfully the shoe stayed tied and I didn’t have to stop.
I felt really good through the first few miles and hit the target pace almost exactly. (I clocked a 7:22 and 7:25 for the first two miles and then 7:10 for the third, most definitely my best mile.)
Then came the mile 4 rollers. I coasted up the first with ease and felt great. While I never felt that great on the rest, they definitely didn’t take as much out of me as the gradual second half incline of my last 5k. When I started to slow I kept telling myself that this race would help bring me closer to that BQ. My pace definitely slowed that mile (7:32) but I hoped to have enough left in the tank for a fast finish.
The first part of the last mile wasn’t much different than mile 4. I kept hoping for a flat section. My legs felt the pace by that point.
Finally, we emerged onto East Curtis Street and I could see First Baptist. We had a little under a half mile to go but I knew the finish was close and tried to step up the pace.
Then, a little over a quarter mile from the finish, I saw Matt running towards me. I knew he was coming to pace me into the finish but a part of me wanted him to keep running. Sure enough, he was there to pace me into the finish. This wasn’t an “I’m going to run at your pace and say a few motivational things” kind of pacing. This was a “you’re almost done so you should sprint” sort of pacing.
My legs and lungs felt like they were on fire as we came flying around the final two turns. (flying for me at least). The finish was cruel. We had to pass the old finish line (at least, the finish line of two years ago when I ran the race). The final bit also had a little incline as well. I so wanted to ease up, just a little, but didn’t thanks to Matt. Now that’s what a running coach is for!
I crossed the finish line in 36:26, only 15 seconds short of a 5 minute PR. For an 8k that’s a difference of almost a minute per mile. Hard work definitely pays off.
The icing on the cake came a few minutes later when I watched Mom finish in 41:33, only a minute slower than 5th place Grand Masters Female and good enough for an age group win by 4 minutes! (She’s been running for just two years!)
This was an awesome way to start off a Saturday morning and a great way to get me pumped up to keep up the training and go for those goals.