Monday, October 14, 2019

Game Day 5k

After my surprising performance at last weekend's 5k, I decided to do something I haven't done in ages when it comes to a race: I set a time goal. Specifically, I set a pace goal. I had managed to run the abbreviated Phillippi Shores 5k with an average 9:06 pace, and after a successful and steady 4-mile bridge run on Wednesday the following week, I decided to try for a 9:00 pace this last Saturday.
The Game Day 5k is a smallish race near my parents' house once again staged by the Manasota Track Club. (I hoped this course would be measured correctly.) With Matt in Dunedin for another team paddle, it was the perfect race to fill the spot left empty when the Thrive 5k was canceled.

I knew there would be other Skirt ambassadors there and I was also taking over the Skirt instagram page that day, so everything was falling into place.
The race was set to begin at 8am, which is pretty late for a 5k in Florida no matter the time of year, but I was surprised by how cool the weather was when I first got there around 7:30. I checked my app to confirm because I couldn't believe it - it was only 68! Fall is really here!

I had to park about .1-miles from the race; as I was pulling onto the road, I noticed a bunch of runners doing their warmups had paused and were indicating I ought to turn around and park on the side of the road rather than continuing to the venue. Listening to them saved me ten minutes of navigating the overfull parking lot and having to find a farther spot, which would have messed up my morning timing. I was grateful!
Pre-race, feeling some nervous energy!
I parked and walked to the start, where I got my packet and said hello to Wendy and Marjorie. Then I had time to go back to the car, drop my things, put on my bib, and get ready to go. I felt nervous but not anxious.

Once again, there was no tracking mat at the start. I was a little discombobulated because one of my earbuds wasn't turning on, so I was distracted trying to fix that. (Afterward I had to look up how to turn the individual earbuds on and off once they're out of the case, so I'll know for next time!) So, my start wasn't great. I wasn't at the very front of the line and my GPS didn't kick in right away; generally I just felt a little stressed and unprepared when the starting gun went.

This mindset at the start meant I went out a little faster than I should have, but because I had a plan in mind, I reined it in pretty quickly. The majority of the course was shady because of the time of day, but there were patches where the sun was cutting through and already hot. The morning was sticky. This 5k also has a 10k option and I was so glad I wasn't running longer.
As usual, the last half mile of the race was tough for me. It was starting to get hot and I could feel myself slowing down. I have a tendency to take a walk break around 2.6 miles of a 5k; when I felt I may be losing my pace goal at this point, I just told myself to keep running, even if I had to slow down. Just avoid walking. Just finish in a way that you can be proud of.

Here are two blurry screenshots from the finish line video:
The time on the clock when I finished was 28:30, but my watch read 28:19. With no timing at the starting line, I'm happy to believe my watch over the clock in this case.
I can't get over how evenly matched my first two mile splits were!
I sat for awhile just past the finish line on an open stretch of curb. Eventually I saw Wendy and we got to chatting while we waited for some other friends to finish.
We made our way over to the food and celebration area, where I checked my time. I had placed 2nd in my age group! I had hoped I would place top 3, since this is a small race and the faster runners were taking on the 10k rather than the 5k.
Okay, to be fair, the age group was so small and the MTC does awards 6-deep, so I was guaranteed a place, but I was really glad to have earned it.
I went back to the car to put a shirt back on, ditch my earbuds, and grab my water. By the time I was making my way back, I could hear the announcer already calling names for awards!
Standing on a podium sure is fun!
It turns out the ladies in Skirt really cleaned up that morning! We all placed in our age groups, so we waited for all the awards to be read before getting a final picture together and going our separate ways.
Me, Wendy, Marjorie, and Bonnie. This was Marjorie's first race in the 70-74 AG! (She did the 10k and is amazing!)
Despite missing my pace goal by just a smidge and letting the wheels come off in the third mile, I am really pretty happy with this race. I signed up hoping I'd place and I did. I set a lofty goal and nearly met it. I feel like this race and last weekend's have helped realign my perspective on where I am in my training and fitness right now, which was seriously necessary.

I'm sure I'll post more on it later, but I can see now how much my slower 5ks from the summer messed with my head and my perception of my abilities.

Anyway, this was a fun race with an excellent pay-off, and I hope to run again next year!


Sunday, October 6, 2019

Phillippi Shores 5k

I was not planning to run this race. In fact, for the first time ever, I had to register on race day at packet pickup because I was so late making a decision!

It ended up working out, though. Matt and I were in Sarasota Saturday. He had a 16-mile OC6 paddle practice with his team for Chattajack and I had a 5k to keep me busy before we drove across the coast to meet little Wyatt. I planned to borrow my dad's car and get it back to him so he could start his trip across the state ahead of us.
The race started at 7:30. I got to Phillippi Shores elementary around 6:50, registered, and had plenty of time to warm up and decide on a race plan. This 5k is put on by the school to raise funds, but is supported by the local track club. That meant it was well-organized and chip-timed. The biggest surprise and disappointment, then, was that the course ended up being significantly short.

The start line didn't have a timing mat, so I lined up as close to the front as I could without being in the front row.
Find me!
There were tons of children running, and I mentally prepared myself or some dodging and weaving. However, it really ended up being fine. The numbers were small enough and the roads wide enough that I didn't have any trouble navigating the crowds, and while many of the kids didn't follow "race etiquette", they weren't bothersome. I just kept reminding myself that this race was to raise money for their school, so they kind of had the right to the road.
I came up on the 1-mile mark at .95 by my watch. I knew the race was a double-loop, so I wondered if the second loop would be a little long to account for the shortage. I clocked my first mile around 9:00 and was very pleased; I had started out way too fast and had reined it in, so knowing I had banked some time was comforting.
When I got to the second mile marker, I knew the race was going to be significantly short. My watch read 1.95. Part of me didn't mind; I thought maybe we'd still run an even 3 miles and I could still get a pretty good read on my progress this fall.

I hit my usual wall around 2.6 miles, but knowing the race was short, I kept plugging along. I talked myself out of taking a walk break due to the short course and was especially happy with that once I crossed the finish line and saw just how short. I have had to walk around the 2-mile mark for most of my runs this summer and have been running a 9:50-10:20 pace. Here I was, holding low-9s!
I managed to sprint out the end of the race and the finish line, then thought I was seriously in danger of puking. By the time I had recovered enough to look at my watch, it was too late to find an unpopulated piece of sidewalk to run another quarter mile and finish the whole distance; it wouldn't have reflected any important data, anyway, and for a race that wasn't even on my schedule, I didn't have any need to prove anything. I already knew based on my performance that I ran really well and I was ecstatic.
Here's a blurry screenshot from the finishing video.
I once ran a 5k that was only 2.65 miles; in comparison, this shortage barely matters!

I wrote in my last post that I thought maybe I could place in this race...the reason being that they do AG awards 6-deep. Sure enough, I managed to place 5th in my AG! I spent the next half hour looking for someone who could give me my medal so I could get back to my parents' quickly.
My actual pace was 9:06, which would have meant a 28:16 for a 5k. I think I could've done it!
It took some asking around, but I finally found the announcer, who agreed to sneak me my medal early. I didn't realize until I got back to the house that he had given me the 4th place medal by mistake! I feel pretty terrible about that, but hopefully they had an extra 4th place medal lying about for the woman who finished before me.

But actually 5th.
I have definitely been dealing with hangups over my last couple 5ks, where my running consistency was off and the heat really slowed me down. Even though this race wasn't a full 5k, I know if it had been I would have finished well under 30 minutes, and that has restored my confidence. Running a short race can be frustrating, but honestly, I wasn't bothered!
For people who may have trained for this race specifically, that would be a major flaw and a point of contention.

Over all, I had a great race morning, especially given my last-minute decision to run it. Our plans worked out, and Matt and I got to meet Wyatt and spend some time with the family. It turns out sometimes it's nice when plans don't work as expected!