Tuesday, May 24, 2016

SUP & Run 5k

Even though this was only* a 5k, this is going to be kind of a long post because it was a goal race and apparently I have a lot of feelings.

Friday night, Matt and I drove to Sarasota; Saturday's SUP & Run 5k was only fifteen minutes from my parents' house, so they let us and James crash there for the night.
I tore off my daily calendar before we left and felt like my weekend motivation was cryptically on-point.
Matt, James, and I had sushi for dinner, and mom had gotten us all cupcakes because she's the best host ever, so I had my fair share of carbs and protein the night before.
I was only going to eat half the cupcake but when I saw it had strawberry filling I couldn't help myself!
On the drive up, I was literally bouncing around in the car from excitement; I was just feeling totally stoked about the race. That feeling continued into the morning despite waking up a dozen times to pee (I was over-hydrating Friday because the weather for Saturday was sure to be hot). I also woke up with a bad Charlie horse despite foam rolling the night before.

Still, I felt really good Saturday morning. I rolled my calves and hamstrings and got dressed. Earlier in the week I'd decided that I wasn't going to wear a shirt to the race, which was a big deal for me and a personal milestone of a different sort. So Friday I had tried on five different sports bras to see which I felt most confident in.
After I took this, I threw an extra bra in my bag...just in case.
We left the house around 6:45. I had my UCAN mixed with water, ice, and coffee and finished it around 7:15. I had plenty of time to pick up my packet, jog around the park (mostly just to-and-from the port-a-potties a couple times), do some dynamic stretches, and drink some water.
UCAN magic.
My mom showed up at 7:50 or so; I had asked her Friday if she wanted to spectate the race and she decided to come! She's never seen Matt race SUP before so it was a good chance for her to see him in action. Matt's dad Dave also came to watch.
I never wear headphones during training anymore, but I like music on race day. My pick for this 5k? Les Mis! As I told Mom, sometimes you just need songs of revolution and rebellion in your ears!
The race began at 8:00 and it was hot. I lined up just behind Matt and James, knowing they'd be running miles in the 7s. My goal was to run an 8:41 pace as consistently as possible. Elizabeth texted just before I got to the starting line, and that helped me get my game face on.
Of course, when I first started, my pace was in the 7s. Oops. I pulled back and found a challenging-but-doable pace, around 8:20. I felt strong and confident for the first half of the race and decided to stick to the faster pace and try to bank some seconds. At mile .88 I tossed water on myself. I saw Matt and James at mile 1.4 or so, and knew I was near the turn-around. I still felt good, although I had a little side-stitch.

There had been a breeze before the turn-around, but it disappeared in the latter half of the race. Around mile 2.4 I started to flag. When I passed the water stop a second time, I tossed more water on myself. I saw 9s on my watch and tried to pick it up but the numbers just kept climbing. I got into my head: If you miss your goal, fine, but you cannot finish this race with regret. You cannot regret your performance or your finish.
Just after I started to slow down, the finish came into sight across the lake, and that really helped me kick it back into gear.
So I picked it up. I forced myself to rally. My lungs felt like they were going to pop out of my chest. My legs had been the same level of uncomfortable the entire race; I was judging my effort entirely on my breathing.

There was a tiny bridge near the end of the race (crossing back over to the finishing area), and I bartered with myself. I could conserve some energy on the uphill there, but then I'd sprint the last quarter mile to the end. So that's what I did. I pulled back just a touch, and then just let loose.

I turned the last corner and saw 26:40 on the clock. My eyes laser-focused into tunnel vision. F THIS! I'M GETTING A SUB-27! I told myself, and pushed pushed pushed to the end.

I crossed the line at 26:57.

My A goal was 27:00; my secret A+ goal was sub-27, and I freaking EARNED IT.
Exhausted and proud!
My mom found me doubled-over at the finish and seemed appropriately surprised and impressed with my speedy finish; she wanted to get pictures but I'd come in too fast for her! (I wish she had gotten a picture because I'm sure my face was AWFUL in the best way possible.) When I told her I'd broken 27:00, I choked up a little.

I had passed the medals when I came in, so I went back and got mine, then got a water. A quick note here: this race benefits Operation Second Chance, an organization that seeks to offer support to wounded and ill veterans. The man handing out the medals was a vet, and I thanked him for his service.
Elated!
Mom, Dave, and I hung out under his canopy for a little while because James and Matt were out on the water doing their 5k paddle, but we were at the finish when they came in. At this point, many of the wounded veterans were finishing as well. It was absolutely indescribable to watch. Many of the injured soldiers had specialty seats on their paddle-boards because they had lost their legs; Matt said he saw one female vet paddling with a single arm.
Click here to find out more about OSC.

James finished the full 10k (foot race and paddle combo) in 57:12 and Matt finished in 1:01:30. Their 5k run was 22:55! I thought it was great that they stuck together for the 5k rather than trying to push each other/beat each other because running isn't their primary sport and burning out on the run may have hurt their SUP portion. It seemed like a great strategy to hang together for the foot race.
Anyway, we hung around for awards and took some pictures in the meantime. I had a pretty good feeling I had a chance to place because there were so many divisions broken down into age groups: just the run, just the paddle, and the combination.
Sure enough, when they got to my division, I got to hear them announce my name for third in my age group! And there were more than just three of us! Yes! I collected my medal and basked in this sweet cherry on top of an already fantastic goal-destroying-sundae. (I came in 57 OA out of 163.)
Matt placed 2nd in his AG/division (5/73 OA) and James came in 1st in his AG/division (2/73 OA).
Power couple right here.
I felt weird tapering before a 5k, but I think it really paid off. Despite still having some calf issues, my legs felt fresh and ready to kick butt. Clearly my consistent running and cross-training has really paid off over the last few weeks. I'm feeling gratified and ready to continue working hard!
I honestly don't think that on this particular day I could have run any faster, and I think I performed the best I could despite losing control of my pace for a bit at the 3/4 mark; I was able to get myself back in control, so while my splits weren't even, they weren't too negative. This wasn't a race run under easy conditions, and I rose to the challenge!

I know I left it all out there, and I'm proud of that. I don't think I could have asked for a better day.

ABK

*Only as in "just three miles to review, and yet this post is 1000 pages long", not only in the sense that 5ks don't matter. Clearly they matter, because I put a lot of heart into this race :)

30 comments:

  1. CONGRATS!!! I'm so happy for you, what a race! You were physically strong, you were mentally tough and you earned a PR. That's pretty much the definition of a great running day! Your hard work in training is paying off!

    I got two charlie horses last week, even though I hardly ever get them. I wonder if there is a certain weather element that can spur them on since you said you had one too. Maybe it's a dehydration issue, although I think I drink a lot of water and I know in this post you said you hydrated a lot. Hmm!

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    1. I was thinking maybe OVER hydrating led to the charlie horses? Like, maybe I was salt-depleted or something. When it's this hot out, I feel like that could be an issue.

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  2. CONGRATS!!!! I knew you were ready!! You have been working so hard with your speed work you deserved this! You are only going to keep getting faster! I can only imagine what you will be able to do when you get a cooler race to run at!

    I haven't had a charlie horse in a while...I hate being woken up to them! I am glad it didn't cause you any further problems! Hopefully when I run my 5k this weekend I can rally myself together as you did during this race when it starts to get hard. That last mile is the best/worst of it all. You know you're almost done but the pain is just really hitting! Great job again Ali!!

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    1. The last mile is definitely the hardest! It helps when you can see the finish line, but it's also the point where it just doesn't seem worth it to push through that pain haha! I just had to remind myself that a PR was something I REALLY wanted.

      I hope you have a great 5k! I can't wait to read your recap!

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  3. Sounds like a fantastic race! And you crushed it. Congrats on the AG award -- the only way I'll ever win one is if I'm the only one in my AG, and that's unlikely to happen.

    I could never, ever run in just a bra. I don't even do it INSIDE. I'm way too self conscious, so I get why that was a big deal.

    I spent a lot of time pouring water over myself at my last half . . . remember, that was in ME, not FL!

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    1. I hope to someday get to the point where I'm the only one running at my age, so I always get awards. I'll be that 88 year old lady hobbling down the course!

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  4. I knew you could do it!! Congrats, AWESOME job!

    "Even though this was only a 5K" Nonsense!!! No "only" about it! Hitting 5K goals is hard freakin work, otherwise so many of us mighty marathoners wouldn't fear the distance so much. You worked hard and you should be proud. Enjoy your success.

    This post is making me even more excited for my short distance season and (hopefully) crushing some 10Ks this fall!

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    1. Well, "only" as in "3 miles, not 26!" I'm not saying a 5k isn't a big deal, just that you'd think I wouldn't have a lot to write for such a short race!

      I'm excited to see you working on your short distance. We'll crush our 10ks together!

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  5. I am beaming right now from reading your recap...CONGRATULATIONS!!!! A sub-27 5K is huge, you killed it!! I'm so happy for you, and you won an AG medal too?? Great job!

    Consistency makes all the difference in the world. I'm realizing that getting a taste of the speedy life is really addictive. Can't wait to see where you go next!

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    1. OMG, so true. I don't usually care much if I'm fast or slow, but the feeling of running fast is definitely addictive!

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  6. Congratulations on meeting your goal!! that is amazing! I love that you listened to Les Mis for your race! Congratulations on your Age Group award too! Also congratulations to Matt and James!

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    1. The "One Day More" reprise came on at just the right time! haha

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  7. Congrats Matt, James, and Ali!!!!!!!! I know I told you already how happy I am for you and proud that you were able to leave it all out there. 5ks are short but they SUCK! Maybe that's why I only ever ran one!? :) Hope you're still riding your PR high! Oh, and I totally taper before any race no matter the distance. I tapered before the MILE.

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    1. I'm now a full believer in tapering! The Thursday before the race I went to the running store to try on new shoes and the lady was trying to get me to join their fun run, and I was like, "nope, tapering for a 5k" and felt silly...But Matt pointed out that runners racing 5ks for money and glory probably take tapering very seriously! So then I felt like I was in good company.

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  8. Congratulations! I am so excited for you and this is so inspiring. I hope to break 27:00 myself some day.

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    1. Thanks!! You have some speedy times under your belt - I have no doubt you could break 27!

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  9. A BIG congrats to all of you!! A great day all around!
    I am so happy for you!! you rocked that 5K!!! A sub 27 is amazing :) Congrats on the AG place!! It is fun to place, when you really feel like you pushed yourself and earn it, very gratifying I am sure! Your plan worked out well! It is good to go on with fresh legs.
    The wounded vet picture makes me tear up, very inspirational.

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    1. I was looking at awards and realized I could have placed even without a PR, but it felt SO good to feel like I really earned it this time.

      The wounded vets were seriously amazing to watch. I may have cried a little...

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  10. Great job, Ali! And thanks for the props for Matt and me. :)

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  11. So badass! Super happy for you! It always feels awesome to nail your goals!

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  12. YESSSSS! Congrats! I'm thrilled for you! I think 5Ks are so hard because you're pretty much guaranteed to be in pain from beginning to end. I also always falter at the 3/4 way mark. It's a huge accomplishment to rally like you did and give it all you had. And then to be awarded with an AG award! So awesome! You are an inspiration!

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    1. The 3/4 mark in ANY race seems to be where I start to falter and second-guess how much I really want a strong finish. Part of me just seems to want to settle in and relax at that point! I'm glad I'm not the only one!

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  13. Huge congratulations to you! That's an amazing time. Also a running/SUP race sounds so fun except I would fail so hard at the SUP since I pretty much paddle in circles.

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    1. Well, the 5k paddle course WAS a circle, so maybe that would work for you ;) We love finding running/SUP combo events because it means we can train and participate together, which is really nice.

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  14. AHHHH!!!! Congratulations!! I am so excited that you got that PR PLUS your A+ goal. Reading this makes me want to run a 5K so bad!!

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    1. Thank you!!! It still feels surreal. I bet you could absolutely dominate a 5k right now. You'd be coming in at like 19:00!

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  15. I missed this post somehow, so when I saw today's post, I had to come looking for it! Congrats on the sub-27, how exciting. :) I love 5ks--I'm starting to convince myself that even though they are short, they are just as valid of a race as any other. Congrats again and keep up the great work!

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    1. After running long distance for so long, it has been a mental adjustment to see 5ks as "valid" for me, too. There are lots of new runners in 5ks, but there are also people who train and run them to win, whatever "win" means to them, and they count as REAL races!

      It's funny because after stepping away from 5ks for so long, I realize that now many of them give out finishers medals! They didn't used to do that!

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