I had been very remiss in posting due to a lack of anything to say. But recently, a lot of wonderful things happened, and I didn’t post for fear that telling of them would make them spontaneously not true anymore. Superstition is a funny evolutionary relic. I won’t list it all, but suffice to say I am grateful for the times in life that feel like coming up on the pivotal moment in a feel-good sports movie. Anxious and disbelieving and hopeful and coiled into a ridiculous ball of energy ready to bounce off of everything.
Anyway. On Thursday, April 28th I ran the UCP 5k. My company sponsors the race every year and a lot of my colleagues run it. My goal was to run the race in 21:04, or 6:46 pace. That projects out to a 3:25 marathon. I thought I might be capable of that since I’ve been doing 6x800meter repeats each week at about a 6:20 pace. I ran 20 miles the Saturday before the race, but I took two days off and only ran 5 and then 2 very slow easy miles the other days. On Thursday I felt not particularly bouncy, but at least not fatigued.
Last year I got 7th place and 2nd woman from my company. I didn’t have a great day last year, and ran it in 22:34. If the same people showed up this year, I thought I could compete for 2nd or 3rd woman if I met my goal time. However, when I lined up on the start line and asked some speedy-looking ladies what they expected to run, they replied “-2:19”. Actually, they said around 18:00, but the effect was the same. I revised my goal to meeting my goal time and getting first woman from my company.
The first tenth of a mile of the race is a sloping downhill. Most of the people who show up for the race are signed up through their companies, and don’t train for races. So when the gun goes off, there is a stampede down the hill, then a petering off of pace as the course levels out. In previous years, I’ve joined the stampede, but this year I managed to hold myself back and carefully edge up to my goal pace on my Garmin. I will admit that it is very satisfying to start passing all the guys that I work with around the half mile mark, running steadily while their legs suffer from overly ambitious pacing. My Garmin predictably beeped off the first mile before the mile marker, but I forgot to look again at the actual time when I passed it. However, I felt strong. My breath came easily and while the pace felt hard, my legs were holding it well. Thoughts fleeted into my mind such as “I don’t know how much longer I can hold this”. But I kept remembering that I was only running three miles. All of my training has been so focused on distance recently that I think my brain forgot we weren’t trying to hold that pace for three hours.
The turn-around is slightly past the halfway mark. At that point, my Garmin lost itself a little. It was raining and cold, so I’m assuming it was just throwing a temper tantrum. It didn’t register mile 2 until way after the mile marker. Just before mile 2, I finally caught up to a girl I had been following the whole race. We ran together for a little bit, but she was slowing so I forged ahead. The fatigue and aerobic limit hit me very suddenly around 2.5 miles. I was feeling strong, and then suddenly I could barely breathe. I did a good job keeping the pace under 7 minutes by remembering I did suffering a lot worse this past winter. However, because my Garmin was confused, I thought I was running a lot slower than I was, and I thought there was no way I would make my goal time. Just before the hill back up to the finish, a girl blew past me. I had no motivation to step it up and try and stay with her. I absolutely could have tried harder.
I crested the hill and saw the last few yards to the finish. The race clock read 20:01. I was so shocked I almost missed a step. I pepped up and grinned so hard to the finish that my frozen face hurt. Typically I sprint to the finish line, but this time, I just bounded it in with my hands in the air. 20:14. 6:31 miles. 7th overall woman (same place as last year, ha) and 1st woman from my company.
I high-fived two runner guys that I work with, one of whom set a PR as well, and then spent the next 15 minutes babbling about how happy I was. 20:14 projects out to better than my goal marathon time! I had NO IDEA I was (am) capable of running that fast. Next year, I’m going to run it in under 20 minutes. Also next year, I’m not going to fade in the last half mile, and I will sprint it in.
I have a half-marathon this Sunday, and then two final weeks of training before The Almighty Taper for the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon. I am so excited. I think I’m going to be ready.