Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Race Report: 5K Redeem Team

Saturday night was the Crystal City Twilight 5k and my attempt to redeem my 5k from two weeks ago. There was some team prize money so GRC put together a small team. I was to make my debut in my new GRC singlet.

At practice last week, L volunteered to help pace myself and K. Normally she’d kick my butt, but she was coming off a layoff and was willing and eager to help us out. We talked about trying for a hair over 6 minute pace, good enough for sub-19. I was excited since that was exactly what I was aiming for, and they had independently come up the same (realistic for me!) time goal.

Saturday was a waste of a day. I haven’t raced in the evening since high school, and I didn’t really know how to take it. I basically just lounged around lazily, not knowing what to do with myself. I had to be careful what I ate and when I ate it. I watched a lame movie, sans my usual snack of chips and salsa, and just tried to relax. Of course, I couldn't entirely relax, with the race on my mind, but I wasn't actually that nervous. My race plan was simple: stay with L and K. Considering I blew up attempting the same time goal only two weeks ago, it might not have been the most brilliant of race plans. But I honestly thought I could hit that pace and I knew the added presence of teammates would help. There is strength in numbers.

The evening was surprisingly cool for mid-July. It had rained on and off all day and started misting again when the race started. The course was a little slick and had some puddles, but it was still better than scorching temperatures. During warm-ups we all talked about the wasted day and how we weren't sure what to do with ourselves or what to eat, and I felt vindicated by other people feeling the same as I did. (One of the many reasons it's great to have teammates! Read on for many more reasons.)

Mile 1 was a bit of a surprise; right at the beginning there were some extra turns we hadn’t known about, causing some bottlenecking of all the people going out fast. We hit the split a little fast, but close to our goal with L, K, and me all together. (It was faster than my first mile split from 2 weeks ago, which was the fastest of that day. Somehow that thought didn’t scare me; I was going to stay with these girls.)

Mile 2 was more confusion about the course. When we had looked at the course map, it seemed like it went straight south out-and-back, past the start/finish line, and then straight north out-and-back. Each out-and-back looked to be 1.5 miles, so when we passed the start/finish line we’d be halfway. But the course had clearly changed and we seemed to be on the south part forever. It was messing with me mentally, but we were picking off other girls and L’s pacing was perfect.

With L and K, steps from the
finish line but unaware.
Through the second mile, I had been running one step behind L and K. I tried to stay even with them, but my efforts still kept me a step behind, which was fine with me so long as I was still with them. I knew not to let a gap form. Running is such a mental game that if you let someone get a slight edge and get away from you, you feel defeated and that gap will keep growing. I knew this and was fighting it, but in the third mile I started to fall back. When we passed the start/finish (actually 2.5 miles into the race) Coach was screaming about erasing the gap, which added more fuel to my fighting. I caught back up to one step behind them, only to immediately fall back again. There was one more turn around, which took forever to get to, but after we made the turn we were heading home. I knew I could summon a kick, but I couldn't see the finish line. For one thing, it was dark, and there wasn't a banner or anything. Knowing (hoping!) we must be close, I picked it up to begin to muster a kick and caught back up with my teammates. I noticed some people stopped ahead and thought that must be the finish, but then I looked down and there was the mat and the clock and I was done. In an ironic twist, I wished the finish line was further away, so I could have kicked properly.

K and I both PRed (18:51) thanks to L’s pacing, which was dead on. Our other teammate and number one girl also did well, surprising herself by running faster than she thought she would at this point in the season. Despite some possible sabotage (our number one girl's registration was mysteriously lost) our three-girl team led by L came in 2nd place and earned some dough for the team.

Afterwards L and her husband had us over for beer and snacks (chips and salsa! My missed snacking is redeemed!) Then K and her husband showed up with Thai food for everyone! I couldn't get over how nice this team is. They drag me along to a PR and then feed and beer me. Amazing.

I'm happy I finally broke 19, but like most runners, I'm never satisfied; there are always bigger PRs to chase. But for now, it's one step a time. No more racing until the Philly half in September. Back to training, track practice, and trying not to get gapped.

Dream big,


  1. "I knew not to let a gap form." Many of us "know" to do that, but you accomplished it and that makes all the difference. Congratulations.

  2. Cool new photos -- the night-time finish of the 5k and the summer look workout run (w/logo).