Yesterday, I raced my fastest 5K yet, finishing in 32:49, or a 10:33 pace. This is fairly amazing considering that I totally bonked. My goal was to finish in less than 33:30, and I thought that was fairly aggressive, considering I usually run about a 11:19 mile, and anything less than 11 minutes has been indoors on the treadmill, with the benefit of some shitty tv like Keeping Up With The Kardashians to watch.
I have run this race, the Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure, three times before, though, so I figured it was good to aim high. Also, I'm never quite sure if I'm pushing myself hard enough. When I worked out with a trainer before, I would sometimes get so exhausted that I would actually throw up. I'm not a hardcore athlete and I certainly am not one of these 'go big or go home' freaks who think you need to puke to work out, but still, how do you know if you're pushing far enough?
Even though it's late September and supposedly to brisk, beautiful boot and corderoy weather, yesterday was hot as balls and muggy. I rode the T to the race site, grabbed some free vendor schwag and stretched. I've been battling a head cold, so I took an extra Claritin and drank some water. The place was an absolute mob scene, but I tried to make my way as close as I could to the starting line. [Insert standard runner rant here about walkers who line up in front of all the runners even though it is SUPER CLEAR that that's dangerous and you should line up in the back.] Lots of bad dance music, "inspirational" speeches, and then Mumbles Menino sounding the horn.
I took off like a bat out of hell. I could feel that I was running faster than I normally run, but I wanted to break free of the crowds and the walkers and the strollers. I usually have a hard time with the first mile, but I figured if I could make it through that, I'd be fine. The crowd was so thick that I ended up missing the first water station, but I still felt okay. My arm and shoulders were a little crampy and it was HOT, but powered by 'Paradise City,' I soldiered on.
I passed the Mile 2 marker and managed to get some water, but it was only halfway filled and the crowd was too thick to make my way back. I kept going, but I knew that my breathing was labored. I focused on some breathing exercises, figuring that the combo of the heat and the head cold was not helping. I felt very, very, very hot. As I passed the 2.5 mile mark, I began to feel more and more lightheaded and a girl pulled up beside me and asked if I was okay and if I could breathe. I waved her on, and just stopped.
I hate walking in races. Hate it. Even in the half marathon, I never stopped to walk. I know that I'm a super slow runner, but I've always taken pride in the fact that I never walk. I knew the answer to that question I posed above, though -- I knew I pushed it far enough on Saturday, and I imagined how mortified I would be if I fainted. So I stopped. Got my shit together. Took some deep breaths. Walked a bit. And then jogged for that last half mile.
When I neared the finish line, I saw that the clock was at 33 so I pushed myself to run as fast as I could. I crossed at 33:28, so factoring in gun and net time, I knew I beat my goal. I was happy for that, but also happy that I knew when to stop.
And here ends my inspirational sports entry. And on to another 5K next weekend.
Historical Factoids That May Be Of No Interest To Anyone But Me
I just spent a ridiculous amount of time on Cool Running looking up my old race times. The 2007 Komen Race was the first 5K I ever ran, and my pace was 12:31, a full two minutes higher than now. I ran the 2008 Komen at a 10:35 pace. This was the summer I was training a LOT, and I had also dropped a lot of weight. My pace for the 2009 race was 11:26 -- awesome considering I had just had a C-section a few months earlier. My worst 5K pace in recent years was 13:18 in 2008, but I was pregnant, so I will give myself a break on that one.