My favorite annual run. This past Sunday was my fourth year running this race. Over the years the name has changed, and the beneficiary has changed but it always remains a run for ovarian cancer education and the same daunting flat course.
How could a flat course be daunting you ask? Well that's because traditionally this run starts at 5:30pm, in Sacramento, in September. This race is always stupid hot. The kind of stupid hot where you feel like you have cotton balls in your mouth, the kind of stupid hot where you actually have to take water at both aid stations for a 5k distance. I love this race but it's also always the hardest 5k I run every year because of the weather.
You can imagine my delight when I discovered they moved this race to a Sunday morning. It must have made a lot of other folks excited as well, because this year was their biggest with 1300 registered runners.
I've been slightly sidelined the past several weeks as I endured a shoulder/neck injury. Mostly due to a really poor bike fit (I got a great new bike fit - I'll include that in another post) and my sudden fondness of swimming and starting a masters program. I'm working hard (or hardly working as it sometimes feels) to rehabilitate and train for my last tri of the season. So that means physical therapy twice a week, a bunch of neck stretches everyday and reducing my swim and biking.
I have a goal this year of running a sub 30 minute 5k. I know it's attainable but I've been so focused on triathlon this year that I haven't had much time to work on that goal. I knew it would be something I would focus on for the end of the year but I'm so not the patient type.
While I was not certain I could achieve that goal this weekend I figured I might as well try!
When I arrived to the race site at 7:30am it seemed cold, I had on a fleece jacket and was hopeful that the cold morning air would help me not overheat and be able to run a faster pace than what I typically do at this race. About 2 minutes into the run it was apparent that the course was still hot even at this time in the morning. There were no clouds and it was warming up quickly in Sacramento. As I obnoxiously stared at my watch my pace was too fast out of the gate and I kept trying to slow down, which seemed like an impossible task. About a half mile in I managed to stay at my goal pace and was feeling pretty good. Mile one down and my pace was great. I was however hot and my heart rate zone was much higher than I wanted it to be. Which probably took a larger mental toll than it should have. I was fatigued. While my legs were happy and could have carried me on much further my lungs and heart rate were telling me a different story.
Mile two was not terrible but not the pace I needed to be averaging to go sub 30. I don't need the sub 30 today, I know I can get it this year I kept telling myself. How many times have I watched my kids try to beat a swim time and not get it. It takes lots of effort and some failed attempts, but I'll earn it eventually.
Mile three basically sucked ass. I took more water in at the second aid station and tried to just keep pushing through the pain. Once I could finally see the finish line I looked down and saw that the time was about 29:30, realizing I was still under 30 minutes, I thought maybe I could get it (but in the back of my mind doing the math realizing there was still too much ground to cover) so I started sprinting. Very quickly I was introduced to the wall. Oh hell no, you can't sprint that long said my body. So I slowed down and crossed the finish line at 30:41.
Not my best time but a really solid 5k run for me. The proudest point was that I shaved 4 minutes off of last years time. Much of this can be chalked up to the change in the time of day that race is being run, but it still felt pretty good to earn a course PR that big.
I'm looking forward to completing my last tri of the season and to return my focus to running. This race made me realize how much i love running and how much I missed racing in the 5k distance this year.