So, as you know, I finished out my 50 mile week with a 5k race. I have a love/hate relationship with 5ks. Half of me hates them - I always push to the point of feeling sick, I don't get any bling at the finish, and it consumes a weekend day that I could've used for a long run. Half of me loves them - misery ends in about 30 minutes, I'm rarely nervous because anything that happens is not any sort of indicator of what may/may not happen in a marathon, I don't have to carry anything - no water, no GU, and I usually feel well enough after 10 minutes of recovery to enjoy the post-race festivities.
The night before the race, I enjoyed salmon, green beans, and tortellini with a light alfredo sauce. It hit the spot. Mmmmm... although I seem to like salmon twice as much when someone else cooks it. I'm always so nervous about serving my kids raw fish that I alway overcook it.
Race morning wake-up was 6:15. This was like a vacation day. I rarely get to sleep until 6:15am. I got up, got ready, checked on the little people, and headed outside to wait for Elaine to pick me up. (Have I mentioned how much I LOVE having people to go to races with? It's just so much better than venturing out solo.)
We got there way early and parked within a 2 minute walk to the starting line. Seriously convenient. We wandered around. We helped the parking lot attendent. We chatted with some people. Then we took a potty break before the line got to long, and headed out for a walk to warm up our legs (it was slightly chilly for an early October Texas day). We then headed to the starting line. I found speedy Jenn and her friend Becky. I decided to start with them even though I knew I couldn't keep pace with them. (That ended up being an unbelievably good decision.)
The crowd was huge and the start was a few minutes late, but then the countdown began, and we were off!!! I stayed with Jenn for oh, say, perhaps 3 whole seconds. But I pushed hard. I knew I was pushing hard, and I wondered if I could keep it up. Remember, too, that I just came off a 50 mile week and wanted to do a long run Sunday, so I was having the mental fight between going for a PR and just taking it easy and enjoying it. I looked down at my Garmin and realized I was going a ridiculous pace, but I kept at it. Mile 1 - 8:33. Seriously folks, 8:33. Most of you know I run closer to 11 minute miles so this was unbelievable. Pretty sure it's my fastest mile ever recorded. And unlike a half marathon where I would've not made it the whole way cookin' the first mile like that, it actually turned out that I was thankful that I got it all out on mile 1... because it was the only flat mile.
The next 2 miles were basically two huge hills. Yes, I live in Texas. And, yes, I know that we don't really understand the concept of hills. But these were huge huge hills. Very steep hills that lasted a long time. And the downside was the downside. Seriously. The hills were as steep going down as they were going up. On a slow steady downhill, you can really stride it out, but on a steep downhill, I have to hold back a little or it's just too rough on my knees and a bit too dangerous as well. There were also small sections where the road was wet and slick from morning sprinklers (since some of it was through a neighborhood) - so there was some extra energy expended getting around those sections. And my favorite part where it looked like we had to cut through someone's lawn (it turned out to just be their alley - but still). Very odd course. Frankly the course was super tough and not very interesting considering we were near a vineyard.
I spent mile 1-3 having mental arguments. After completing an 8:33 mile, I had just hit the first huge hill. I started thinking "maybe I should just take my 8:33 and be happy and just relax the rest of the course... there's no way I'll PR with this hill". My pace slowed drasticly to 9:40 (which is still a really good pace for this tortoise). I hit the top of the hill, prayed it was the only one and started to book it again, now convinced maybe I would still PR. I sat there and calculated... I needed about 9:20s to PR. I banked 47 seconds on the first mile and lost 20 seconds on the second mile. I still had 27 seconds in the bank. Surely, I could pull that off, so I was back to running hard.
I saw Jenn coming the other way (and despite her blazing fast speed still had an energetic "Go Lesley"). Then I saw her friend Becky a minute or so behind her. I hit the U-turn. I hate U-turns in races. I don't know why but they zap my energy. You slow too much to turn around and I can just feel the muscles tighten. It just ruins your momentum. Anyhow, I turned, and then I was doing great. I got to enjoy something that I've never experienced... watching 80% of the field coming the other direction. I'm typically toward the back-of-the-pack on long races and I don't get to see hoards of people on my way back, but this time it was the opposite. I just kept seeing huge groups of people coming the other way. It made me feel super speedy. I saw my friend Elaine, and we were both pushing super hard, so the most either of us could muster was a less-than-energetic hand held up for a second... not even a wave, just an acknowledgement! I stayed distracted by watching the masses come the other way and looking for people I knew. Then I saw my friend Maurea. Woo-hoo. Everyone was still pushing.
Just when I was getting super confident, it was hill 2. Huge hill 2, I'm not even mentioning the minor inclines in between. I felt like I was in an MC Escher drawing. You know the one where it looks like you are going up the whole time, but it somehow makes a loop. And yet again, I started the mental fight. Oh, I should just walk to hill, relax, and bring it in slow, steady, and happy. I was yelling at myself because at this point I was convinced that I'd be so close to my PR but I really didn't want to come in just 10 seconds slow and be miserable. If I wasn't going to PR, I wanted to save my legs for my long run the next day. But for some reason, I kept moving... slowly, but kept running up the hill. Still arguing with myself. Fighting between "just relax" and "come on, it's less than 10 more minutes of pain". I finally hit the top of the hill and there was the final water stop... really? At 0.2 from the finish. Uh, no. I hadn't taken the first water stop either - figuring I could push through anything for 30 minutes. Then I was at the steep downhill (which didn't seem nearly as long as the uphill). It was too steep. I was able to stride it some, but had to hold back a little as well. I got to the bottom, and I was spent. My tank was empty. The gas light was beeping. I was running on fumes.
I rounded the corner to the final straightaway (which was still a decent length), and I heard the announcer say "we're at 28 minutes". I let out a yelp and sucked it up. I was not going to miss my PR by a few seconds. I pushed hard (around a 7:30 pace for the last tenth). I can't run that fast on fresh legs, and I was in serious pain. I felt naseous. I didn't care. About 2/3 of the way down the final stretch I thought "Oh no, I started sprinting way too soon, I can't do this..." Then I saw some people I recognized cheering. They knew I was right there, so I just sucked it up and went. I clicked my watch and went straight to the side and laid on the ground. I was spent. I couldn't breathe. I thought I was going to throw up. I just laid there in the grass. Finally, I was able to sit up. I knew I PR'd when I crossed the line, but hadn't looked at my watch yet.
Finish time 28:26
That's a 9:10 pace (faster than anything I have ever run) AND I PR'd not by a few seconds, but by 41 seconds. For a 5k, that is a huge difference. I finally gathered enough energy to get up and cheer Elaine to the finish. She came in right when I expected her... pushing hard. It was a hard hard race.
Yes, that's a vineyard behind us. A small Texas vineyard. And check this out:
Do you see those lovely people in vests? Yes, they were pouring free wine tastings for runners. Ahhhhh. It was lovely.
Then jazz music, door prizes, and wine glass awards.
Everyone was holding up their bib numbers hoping to get picked for a door prize. But this next person was very creative in how she held up her bib:
It was a fun morning. We enjoyed the tastings, each purchased a bottle of wine (this must've been great business for the vineyard), and then headed home.
I had a wedding to get to immediately after, so as soon as I hit the door, I showered and headed right back out. My good friend, Whitney, was coordinating the wedding, so I wanted to arrive early to help (I was also a wedding guest, so it wasn't like I was crashing a random wedding). I got there around 1pm, it started at 4pm, and I pretty much stayed on my feet until 9pm. My calves were screaming at me. But check out how beautiful the room looks. I loved the blue...
But my absolutely favorite part was the Candy Bar that served as the favors. You got a little Chinese Take-out box and filled it with all sorts of goodies (there was also a popcorn bar, but I failed to take a picture of it or even try some :-( ).
And one photo for the men... the groom's cake - the Texas Rangers stadium.
By time I got home, I was exhausted. I went straight to bed. My alarm went off bright and early at 4:25am. (Don't I look excited to be up at 4:25am on a Sunday???) Dressed and back out the door for my long run. I wanted to get in 15 miles before church (which would be no small feat). I met my friends, Robin and Jenn, and we tredged slowly... even more slowly than usual. Jenn and I were still majorly sore from pushing so hard on our 5k and Robin ran a 15k on Saturday, so was feeling slow as well. We ended up stopping at 14 miles because I ran out of energy time. We walked another 0.5 mile and called it a day. I was so glad to be done. Today, I will not run... I will not set foot in a gym or on a trail. I will rest, I will likely ice, and I will definitely elevate!
(And stay tuned, because my next blog entry will be a review and awesome giveaway.)