Race start was at 7:30 and I planned to take the light rail over - I needed to get on it at about 6:45 so set my alarm for 5:55. This should have been enough time to drink some coffee and get my body moving in time. I was going to eat a piece of toast, but had a late dinner the night before and my stomach still felt full so I opted not to. I've decided that with 5ks nutrition isn't as important as the longer races - my strategy for the 5k is to pop a Gu about 15-20 minutes before the start and hope that some energy kicks in while I'm out there.
My legs really felt quite dead and I'd wished that I had done something, anything, the previous day to get them stretched and loose. I didn't do jack. I was worried this would fug up my race but once I realized it was totally too late. Tight legs it will be!
I knew the weather would be clear and warm later on in the day - but it was still a bit chilly at this hour. I decided to go with the shorts and double layer t-shirts (race shirt on top!) and gloves. On my way over I kept on my pants and jacket to ensure my muscles would stay warm until as late as possible.
I haven't yet settled on my marine snow strategy for 5ks yet. Again, with the short distance the anxiety over it seems less of a factor. After a less than stellar attempt at home I just left and figured I'd be fine. I'm already giving way too much detail here but let's say that by the time I hit the convention center all engines were on go and I was actually able to use a real bathroom in extreme comfort. I was totally relieved to have this out of the way... Aren't you glad that I shared?
Race Site Prep:
After the bano I checked my bag, leaving myself with only the essentials. It was probably around 7:15 at this point and no one was really lining up at the start. They delayed the start about 10 minutes so I had some time to jog, do some drills, stretch and stress out. Luckily I found Amy near the start about 5 minutes before the gun and nervously chatted until it was go time.
I mentioned before that I wasn't really jazzed up about this 5k. I'd already gone faster than I thought in the Shamrock run and a little worried that I wouldn't be able to beat that time. I'd also had a hard week of training (biking and swimming and what not), started feeling sick, got into some nasty allergies on Saturday, etc. etc. All the excuses that work perfectly when you worry about performance.
However, I did think about what I was really going to do during this race. The Shamrock run my splits were 6:52, 7:47 and 6:54 - the middle mile being that crazy incline. I wanted to keep every mile just under 7:00 and stay consistent. I knew this course was flat except for a couple of inclines on the bridges but I wasn't very sure how bad those would be.
My A goal was to beat my Shamrock time of 22:27, my A+ goal to break 22:00 and my A++ goal (as always) to eventually break 20:00. (A++ is still very far off in the future.)
At the Start Line:
The time lounging around at the start area was relatively brief. It was nice that the start/finish was right by the entrance to the convention center and expo so you could hang out inside if you wanted. Also tons of porta johns and no lines. (I also peed like 4 times in the 45 minutes leading up to the start!)
Amy and I were about 5 seconds back from the front but it was pretty loosely packed and I planned to jersey-jump most of the people in front of me if they were slow.
Mark Set Go!
Sure enough there were some slower runners head of me at the start so I circled around to the left of them which I didn't realize would be the outside (longer) curve. Right at this point I heard someone yelling my name from the ramp overhead and looked up to see Sarah! I was so pumped I responded with my own fist pumping!! Whoo hoo!
The course takes a quick turn to head North and then up over the Broadway bridge. This first incline was so close to the start that I didn't have much time to think about the challenge of it. People were still jockeying for position at this point so I was focused on passing people or letting them pass me. Strangely it was mostly men and boys around me from what I remember.
After the incline it briefly flattens out on the bridge then you are basically rolling downhill. I passed a lot of people on this section because why not? Hello gravity! I'm doing nothing but lifting my legs and letting Newton pull me in.
My Garmin beeps on auto lap and I look down to see 6:27...WTF? No WAY. I was mad because I knew I was going too fast. About 20 seconds later was the Mile 1 marker so now I knew that something was off and I wasn't going to trust my Garmin for the rest of the race.
Now we go North a bit into a weird industrial area that is flat and kind of boring. I pretty much zoned out for a while here. I remember crossing over rail road tracks wondering if the race organizers have a deal w/the railroad to not have any trains come through and wouldn't that suck if that happened?
Next thing I know I'm heading South again and hear bells and see the flashing lights and hear the train's horn going....the Amtrak Cascades line was slowly approaching right in front of us. I was pretty far back and had no idea what was going to happen. The woman next to me is like "no WAY" and starts sprinting. First thought is wow- my previous question is now answered, then I was like crap! This sucks. Then I was all "wait, you know what I could use a little breather - oh well, not all races are perfect..." But in a split second I made the decision to follow the woman and sprint past the train. I don't know how anyone allowed it or how close we were to getting smacked but it was done and I was past it! Major excitement in a short race.
Anyway, after this is a flat boring stretch but there was one woman totally cheering and I loved it so I gave her a high five. I was actually enjoying myself. I didn't see the Mile 2 marker and didn't really pay attention to my watch. I felt like I might have slowed down a bit but was still pushing it. Legs were surely tighter than I'd wanted them to be but did start to warm up about halfway through.
Next is a final turnaround before you begin to head back over the last bridge to the finish line. This is where the damn on ramp hit my legs like a lactic acid bitch slap. It is a long gradual climb that feels worse after all out sprinting for 2.6 miles. I tried so hard to just keep it going as best as I could and I did okay. Two dudes passed me but I was pretty much solo as everyone behind me had been stopped by Amtrak. At the top of the bridge I saw Sarah again and smiled for a cell phone photo. I said out loud "that hill killed me" and some random chicks spectating yell back to me "that wasn't a hill, it is all in your head!" Imagine someone yelling that to you. They're lucky I didn't come back to find them for a lactic acid bitch slap of my own.
One last downhill (passing a guy who'd gotten me on the uphill), round the corner and you're homefree! I wish I'd have seen the finish line coming a bit to kick it in a little earlier, but it was all good. I wasn't sure where the final mat was so I blasted through much farther than I needed to. I saw the clock on my way in say something like 21:79 which clearly doesn't make sense. But I had stopped my Garmin on 21:20 and couldn't believe it! I crushed the last race by over a minute.
Here are my splits (according to the Garmin):
Mile 1 = 6:27 (HR 174 bpm)
Mile 2 = 6:58 (HR 180 bpm)
Mile 3 = 7:33 (HR 181 bpm)
Mile 3.06 = 0:21 (HR 185 bpm)
TOTAL = 21:20/3.06 miles/6:58 pace/178 bpm
According to the race results the route was, in fact, actually 5k so my pace was much quicker @ 6:52 but I'm not gonna split hairs.
Comparing this to my last 5k, it was obviously quicker, but the course was also flatter. However, my avg HR was much lower which is a good indication that it was more comfortable for me. I am really really excited about the way the race went. I ended up getting 4th/165 in my AG, 11th/812 females and 56/1239 of all.
What next? Well, a 10k is next up in a couple of weeks but now I want to find a 5k every weekend to try to chip my time down to sub-20. What do you think...should I go for it?
Here are some pics from the day....
Jen and me post-race in the expo center:
Waiting to see if I placed in the top 3...
Finding out that I did not (I actually got 4th place!)
Fun times at Mother's for brunch:
Official race photos to come later this week when they're posted. God, I hope they're not hideous this time.