Are you serious?
Yesterday, I am pretty sure I just beat my previous 5K PR by a second or two.
This is insane on many levels.
1) I am pretty much the least in 5K shape of my life. Or so I thought.
2) I am running MAYBE 15 miles a week.
3) I am not very good at 5Ks anyway.
This time that I set back in 2002 (I think--it's been so long I can't even remember!) which I believe was somewhere around 23:48 or so (again--so long I gave up really trying since I don't do these much anymore) and haven't been able to beat ever since....
I just busted it out yesterday.
According to my watch, 23:47. We'll see what the final times were (UPDATE--They have me at 23:46! Yippeeeeee): this wasn't a chip race, and I was back a bit (now I'm regretting that! DOH!).
To top it off, I even snuck into 3rd in my age group--which means you know it was a small 5K field! Ha ha!
Anyway, I should back up. So this race was literally in my front yard. It didn't run through it but came close, so the Mom and I signed up. Mom had to head out of town due to a last minute family emergency (it hasn't been the greatest 2 weeks in TST land, unfortunately) so it was just me, myself and I. My plan was twofold:
1. Run as hard as I possibly can.
2. Try not to hurl.
I had absolutely NO expectations about this race. I even told my buddy Shannon how NOT in 5K shape I was. I lined up kind of near the front but still pretty much in the middle of the pack. If I could average just under 8--like 7:59 or so--I'd call it a victory, given my lack of mileage. The good thing is that although I don't have many miles, Coach Emily has been giving me some good intensity and I've been doing some hard fartlek stuff. But I had a HORRIBLE run on Monday night. Awful awful awful. I could barely hold low-8s for my TWO MINUTE PUSHES. Ugh. So I really didn't expect much.
The first mile I was going hard, but comfortably hard. I kept looking at the Garmin in a bit of disbelief because it didn't feel that fast. Made it to the first mile marker in 7:23.
The second mile, things got a bit harder and I was laboring more, but the wheels weren't coming off as I expected them to. I tried to follow a few people in front of me who had a good pace and just zone out on them. The second mile was around 7:43 or so. Slower for sure, but given my lack of miles, I knew that would probably happen.
But I still felt pretty good.
It was about here that I realized that if I could hold it together, I might PR. I felt good, and it was hard but not too terribly hard.
Was this really going to happen today? TODAY? Nine years of trying to do this and I don't give a crap and it happens NOW?!
Around 2.5, I was regretting my decision to have coffee. That works really well in my short races for me, but started to make me froth at the mouth and feel nauseas. I let out a fabulous, classy, loogie-spit to the right and put on my big girl panties. It was here that I looked at my watch and knew it would be close. I was slowing down and it was starting to hurt, but I didn't want to get that far and blow up in the last half mile!
Mile 3 was 7:57. Uh oh. Time to turn on the gas!
My last .1 was an average pace of 6:36, which means I had entirely too much gas left in the tank. And when I crossed the line, it said 23:47. And I about freaking laughed, except I was doubled over and wheezing from my lovely allergy-induced asthma. So I just smiled instead.
23:47. And I would say this was the LEAST prepared I'd ever been for a 5K, or really any race.
Okay, so what did I do differently than I haven't done in the past? How did I actually pull this off?
1. Hats off to Coach Emily for working with my insane schedule and giving me just the right amount of intensity. I definitely respond much better to low-volume, high-intensity training. This further solidifies that. My best marathon time came on my lowest mileage, and now this?! Geez.
2. I had ZERO expectations. NONE. Therefore, my head was not my worst enemy as it usually is. I just ran as hard as I could, period, the end. No drama. No ridiculous obsessing. No nerves, even. Just run hard, try not to puke, run harder, done.
3. I have been more consistent with strength training. I worked really hard to get my core back after Bean and it's still a work in progress of course, but it's a big focus. I've also worked on large muscles like glutes, hammies, and quads, and kept up with my upper-body stuff. Maybe that helped me not die? I dunno.
Now, what did I learn?
1. This is clearly not even CLOSE to what I am capable of. If I were to have some decent mileage along with intensity, I should be able to do much better than this. Of course now, I'm wondering.
2. This 5K PR bar was set very low.
Me, Anne, and Laura after the race
Okay, so I'm thinking there's really no reason I can't drop down into the low-23s and maybe even get into the high 22s. Yes, that's a dare. You hear me, head? THAT'S A REASONABLE DARE. If I can pull this out of my bum, then I should be able to do better. There's no reason why I can't.
Shannon snapped this one of me getting my medal!
So, I have two more 5Ks on the books that I was doing "just for fun" between now and January 1st. And they will still be for fun. But they might just be a little dare to myself, too. TST, the 5K underachiever, is going to try and drop that bar a bit lower where I know it should be.