Goal number one, show up on time. After missing last week’s race, I had a nightmare during the week that I missed the Chicago Marathon. Haha! But now that that’s out of the way on my list of race day fails, I was ready for some performance redemption. My 5k race for this series was a mess, as are most of my 5ks, but doubling the distance helps with my nerves. Even if I go too fast or too slow for one mile, I still feel like I have time to fix it.
After my warm up, I felt pretty good. My legs felt rested, fueled, and not too loose. I saw a few new faces that weren’t at the 5k, but the favorite to win wasn’t there. The only competitor I knew was the runner who bested me at the 5k and bumped me to 3rd. I knew her fitness level, but I was banking on her underestimating mine, based on the 5k. She knew I almost always go out too fast on these shorter races, while she’s good at staying steady and passing me a few miles in. But I wasn’t nervous. Again, I wanted my PR more than the podium.
I lined up a row behind her at the starting line and planned to stay close behind. The horn sounded and I relaxed into a pace that felt sustainable. I decided I was going to ignore my split times buzzing on my watch and go by effort. A few minutes in, I was worried my competition was going too slow for my goal time, so I ended up passing her and took the lead early. I didn’t want to, but I felt confident I could keep grinding. I tucked myself into a pack of guys and kept up the pace.
At the turn around point, the pack had disbanded and I was left with just one guy helping me pull. I was also able to see that my competition was only four or five seconds behind me. I tried my best to stay steady, but while my legs felt good, my lungs were holding me back. I heard her breathing behind me and at mile 4 she caught up and passed me. I didn’t know if I could keep up with two whole miles to go. In my head I started accepting defeat. I didn’t feel like I had much left, but I kept her within ten to fifteen feet. At the mile 5 marker I saw her starting to slow and I attacked instinctively even though I didn’t think I could keep it up. I pushed past her in hopes she wouldn’t call my bluff. She fell behind a little bit and I became hopeful, but with half a mile to go I heard her breathing behind me. Was I going to let her catch me? I had started to get side stitches. Who wanted it more? I started to doubt myself and thought that maybe she wanted it more. But I couldn’t bring myself to not give everything. Home stretch, passing the 6 mile marker I surged and she responded. But I was already in front calling the shots so I had the advantage. The finish line was right there, just one more push. I hit the tape winning by a mere two seconds. I stopped my watch and stumbled to the ground. I was so tired and I just needed to sit. I dry heaved and then my competitor helped me up. I got an instant headache that lasted just a few minutes until I cooled down and got my recovery drink.
Close races are my favorite. I’ve both won and lost by less in the past. If she wasn’t there to push me, I probably wouldn’t have gotten my PR. I was happy with my mostly even splits, my first mile still being my fastest, but much closer than usual (6:00, 6:06, 6:09, 6:09, 6:09, 6:10, and 1:10 for the last .2). I’m also pretty happy that my legs felt good and that my lungs got the better workout. Now, for just the track club series, the overall winner will be between myself and her. Runners get points for placing at each race – 1 for 1st, 2 for 2nd, 3 for 3rd, etc. The runner with the fewest points after the three races wins and right now we are tied 4 – 4. Since the other contender didn’t show up for the 10k, she’s out. Regardless of who shows up for the 15k, there will be a race within the race between just us two.
Time – 37:52
15th of 350 overall
1st 181 female