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Racing

SLCTC Winter Series 5k

First race of the season for me, first race in the series, first race in the USATF circuit…lots of firsts and I was anxious to get back at it. I had been back to training for a month and it had been going really well. So well that I had set high expectations for myself. It had been a year and a half since my last 5k PR (18:25) and I felt I could make a pretty big jump.

My “A” goal was 17:05, “B” goal was anything with 17 in front of it, and “C” was just a new PR. Because this was part of the USATF circuit, I knew the competition could be pretty tough but you never know who will show up and who won’t. Or at least I don’t – they pretty much know I’m going to be there because I advertise it. Haha! But I decided that the time goals were more important to me than the leaderboard. I would race whoever I could, but if I came in 5th or 6th and still got my time, I’d be okay with it.

The day before the race I got a massage, which is pretty typical for me, but it was with a therapist I hadn’t had for sports massage before. My legs felt really good after, but I had one nagging concern I couldn’t get out of my head. She did some assisted static stretching on my hamstrings and even though it felt good, I knew that kind of stretching before a race could reduce power output (depending on who you ask). There wasn’t much I could do about it at that point though, so I just had to wait and see come race time. At least it would be another opportunity to feel the science.

After arriving I got super nervous, way more than I should have been. It wasn’t really about the race against fellow competitors, but the race against myself. And for a 5k or 10k, if you screw up one mile, you don’t have time to recover. My legs felt good, but my hamstrings felt too limber.

We lined up at the starting line and I only saw two runners that I knew were fast enough to beat me. One of them I already knew was way faster than me and would probably easily take the win. The other had beat me at all three races last year to take the series, but based on more current race results I knew we were about the same fitness level.

Now counting on making top 3, I took off at the start taking the lead. The fastest female would overtake me before the halfway point, but she fell back a bit to, I assume, just see what kind of pace she needed to win. After the first mile she sailed past me. I didn’t look at my watch to see what my first split was, but I didn’t feel good. Like I had feared, I felt like I had to power in my hamstrings. My gut just didn’t feel good either. Not from food, but from a nervous, uneasiness. I wasn’t controlled and relaxed (this is why I think it’s important for me to race all these races). I knew I slowed, but I tried to stay steady the rest of the way. By the the turnaround point, I slid into 3rd. I tried to keep her close, but I started to feel worse. I gave up on trying to be close enough to put up a fight at the end. My splits were 5:43, 5:59, 6:03, and 37 seconds for the last .12. I PR-ed by 3 seconds.

I was bummed, but I reminded myself that my last 18:25 5k was on a crazy good how-did-I-even-pull-that-off kind of day. And this recent 18:22 was on a bad day. Most of the time, that’s how I shake off a bad race, or a rough training run. I think about where I was and how far I’ve come. I remember how excited I was when I broke 20 minutes for the first time. It doesn’t make the bad performance “okay,” but it makes me be grateful that I’ve progressed enough that I get to be bummed about this time that I would have killed for in the past.

Final Stats

Time – 18:22

22nd Overall of 381

3rd Female of 200

1st in Age Group of 12

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Live Well San Diego 5k 2017

I was getting tired of these short races. This was my last ditch effort to get my 5k PR down, and not a race I had planned on doing at the beginning of the season. The night before, as I was heading to bed, I realized that I was going to nail it – I just was. For once, my legs actually felt prepared for a 5k. So I rolled out of bed the next morning, got my crap together, mixed my Vega drinks, and left to find a parking spot at Balboa Park (which was about a mile from the start).

My warm up felt pretty good, jogging/walking to the starting area. I did some dynamic stretching, and was surprised at my level of flexibility. I hadn’t been able to kick that high for a few weeks. That made me get a little excited.

From past results, I knew this wasn’t going to be a competitive race, but that wasn’t really the point. In downtown San Diego along the waterfront, this course was flat, and more importantly, on the road. The starting corral wasn’t too bad and I was able to line up right in front. My first mile may have been a bit fast, but I was still feeling good throughout the second, so I didn’t care. Heavy breathing, long strides, strong kick-backs, I made those three, short miles count. Just before crossing the finish line, I started dry heaving. It’s one of my most satisfying feelings in training – working so hard that you exceed your lactate threshold. After catching my breath, I looked at the data and maxed my HR at 206. Hashtag, thumpthump.

Surprisingly, I started as leading female and ended as leading female. Competitive field or not, that usually doesn’t even come close to happening in 5ks for me. It was the sprinkles on my icing of my cake. My cake being the hard effort, and the icing my new PR of 18:25.

Final Statistics

1st female of 780

10th overall of 1348

 

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Carlsbad 5000 2017

This was the first 5k race I’ve done that wasn’t on Thanksgiving. I was hoping to go a little faster on “the world’s fastest 5k,” but I ended up with a five second personal best. The weather was sunny, but not too warm yet – it was a beautiful day. The race is actually divided into six different smaller races with different start times – Masters Men, Masters Women, Men & Women 29 and under, Men & Women 30-39, Elite Women, and finally Elite Men.

I was thankful my race didn’t start until 9:10 because I had a 45 minute drive to get there. After arriving, finding my bib, and checking out where the start line was, I enjoyed the usual sitting and people watching. I didn’t have to wait in line for a porter potty (which never happens at a race), so I had plenty of time.

A train made our start time 15 minutes later, but other than that I was off without a hitch. My goal, besides PR-ing, was  to pay attention to my breathing and lung capacity. I told myself not to go out too fast, as I felt like I’d done in the last few races. At this point in my training, I knew my legs could go faster than my lungs. Staying calm in the beginning, I was able to pass a few females after the halfway point. My mile splits were 6:17, 6:13, 6:13 and I was content with that.

My legs felt great, like they could go further at that pace, but again my lungs couldn’t handle the cadence much longer. Afterwards, I could feel that my lungs had just had a productive workout. I counted that as a win. I tried waiting around for results (you know how that is), but I got impatient and headed home.

Final Statistics

Time – 19:22

112th of 1910 overall

19th of 1006 in women

8th of 199 in division

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Hot Chocolate 15k 2017

Last year I ran this race and the course was fun and challenging (hills), so I was looking forward to racing it again this year. RAM Racing added an “elite corral” with a little bit of prize money for the first time in the series, but I wasn’t sure if it would draw out more competition or not. I was happy to know I made the cut off time and was gunning for a podium finish. I hadn’t done as well as I’d liked at the half-marathon a few weeks prior and I was ready to redeem myself.

Race morning was relaxed because of a later than usual start time and the luxury of living close to the starting line. After squirting my HoneyStinger Energy Gel over some Cheerios, I got dressed and was off. I found my spot at the front of the starting corral and realized I was the only one with an “elite” bib on (yeah, I felt pretty dumb) and there was no starting corral for those bibs as promised. I guess they didn’t get the word out soon enough? Unfortunately for the other racers, that eliminated their eligibility for prize money. Oh well!

Upon starting the race, my legs felt great. However, my lungs couldn’t keep up (which is usually not the case). I knew I was breathing too heavily to speed up like my legs wanted me to, but I tried my best. After the first four miles, I settled into 4th with little hope of moving up. My pace was steady, but my lungs couldn’t push any harder. It was a peaceful disappointment, realizing this, because I knew with more long runs, my lungs would come back – my skeletal muscles were improving.

Passing the 10k mark, I could hear another female coming up behind me. We were going downhill and nearing the bottom she passed me, but only for a brief moment. Because after the course went downhill, it went uphill – and the quad squad dominated. I regained my 4th place status and stayed there through the finish. After the results were in, I dropped to 5th – a racer from another corral actually took 3rd in chip time. After getting my bag from gear check, I headed straight for the chocolate. It turned out, I was the first 15k racer to get in line, so the volunteers made a big deal about it and offered me two servings. I had to decline, but it was pretty funny.

I didn’t PR or podium finish like I hoped, but I was happy with leg muscle improvement and insights in body awareness and sensitivity. For this training season, I want to peak in November for the New York City Marathon, and I feel like I’m on track to do so. I made some gains and I’m ready to make more. Bring on the Carlsbad 5000!

Final Statistics

Finish time – 1:02:17

Overall – 13th of 3954

Female – 5th of 2809

Age group – 2nd of 381

 

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San Diego Half Marathon 2017

Going into this race, I was pretty excited. I felt like I had good training gains, despite not quite getting my pace back from before my “end of season” break. This race last year gave me my personal best to date, and I was ready to PR again.

Something else that I was trying to keep in mind was that for the previous year’s race, I hadn’t had the four weeks off running at the same time. My break was earlier in the year, due to a January marathon. So, trying to pay attention to the differences in my body and training paces was important to me. All things considered, I felt like I had a 1:23-1:25 half marathon in me.

The morning of the race I felt tired, not sleepy tired, but my legs felt tired. I had had a long day at work the day before. Figuring that my adrenaline would take care of it once the race started, I wasn’t too concerned. During the first three miles, I avoided looking at my Garmin in order to simply focus on steadying my pace and breathing – finding my “groove.” But after mile 4, I could tell I still started a little too fast. I tried to focus and regain control as best as I could. I steadied out, but couldn’t find the “comfortable” burn I was looking for. The feeling of light and smooth eluded me. There was a big hill at mile 9, and after that it was a smooth downhill finish. However, I still couldn’t get my legs to turn over like they should have. I finished the race realizing I just barely beat my previous time by a mere 36 seconds. This disappointment set in. It wasn’t a good effort, and I knew it. I didn’t feel exerted enough, but my legs were so heavy. You can’t have a good race every race, and I’m not saying it was a bad race. But I think I had more in me at my current level of running fitness.

Regardless of my disappointment, it was still a slight personal best. All I can do is keep learning and reflecting. Real progress is coming in the year ahead – I can feel it in my bones. For now, I’m looking forward to a hopeful redemption race with a 15k in a few weeks.

FINAL STATISTICS

Finish Time – 1:27:51

Overall – 89th of 5044

Female – 14th of 2701

Age Group – 4th of 462

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Coronado Valentine’s Day 10k 2017

Going into this race, I didn’t feel quite ready. My four week break from running was good, but I didn’t feel like I was back into a groove yet. I had had a few solid runs in training, but no noticeable progress in times, so I was anxious about whether or not I’d be able to snag a new personal best. My goal was something in the 38 minute mark.

Race morning was beautiful – sunny and a crisp 50 degrees. The chill in the air would disappear by the time the race got started at 8 am, but it still stayed relatively cool. When the race began, I was as prepared as I could have been. Hydrated, fueled, and warmed up, I took off at a pace a little faster than I could sustain to try and get some space. I settled into what I could tell was 4th female and began my hunt. I made it a point to focus on posture and breathing to steady my pace. The course was flat, but it was an out and back so the last mile and a half you had to weave through the 5k-ers who at that point were mostly walkers and strollers. Weaving through, I tried to pick up the pace, but was unable to close the gap. Giving a hard push for the finish, I crossed as fourth female in 38:04. I was happy with that (personal best), and despite my prerace anxiousness, felt like it was a good effort for my first race back. My official placings were:

18th overall of 910

4th female of 550

1st in age group of 87