2016 Firecracker 5k

Good morning y’all!  I hope everyone had a fun and safe 4th of July – I sure did.

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Firecracker 5k 23:20

I started off one of my favorite holidays by running in the Fleet Feet Firecracker 5k.  I’ve been working on 5k spadework and tempo runs since January and in March, when the temps were still low and the weather kind of dreary, I decided to shoot for this race for my 21:something goal.  Well about three weeks before the race, I was out on a practice 5k run and realized I had completely forgotten what the heat and humidity can do to average pace times.  It’s no joke how much it can slow you down!  (Seriously, we learned about it in grad school, although now I can’t remember the specific statistic.  I just know that it’s true).

So after that practice run, I nearly bagged signing up for the race.  It was three weeks away, definitely not enough time to get ready to PR and close enough to the race that the fees would be high.  I had pretty much talked myself out of it.  But then this other  voice in my head took over.

You can’t just skip the race because you think you won’t do well.

Well, I could.  But I decided that I wouldn’t.  I signed up that day, staying true to my goal of running this race but adjusting what I expected from the outcome.  I decided I would shoot for under 24 minutes and work on getting faster each mile.  I hit half of that goal.

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Flat Sprenk ready to go.

The race was set for 7:30 am and it looked like we’d luck out with no rain and temps in the low 70s.  I’m not one to get to the race early to hang around so we headed to the start line around 7:15.  I had my usual coffee and water at wake-up time and banana at the start line.  Works well for this distance.

The start line was crowded!  I ran into one of the runners I follow on Instagram but had never met in real life and we wished each other luck – man, what technology does!  Honestly I don’t remember thinking about much except wanting to get it started.  I need to get better at calming down at the start to stick with the game plan.  Which was to start slower and pick up pace as the race went on.

When I race a race, rather than run it for fun, I work my way up to the front of the pack.  It’s an intimidating place to be with all of these lanky, sleek-muscled fast-looking people!  But I go there because I’m racing, just like them.  And even though I feel like I don’t fit in, I do.  Mostly.

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Waiting for the strollers to go.

This race I got swept up into them a little out of my league.  I could feel when we made our first turn onto Boulder off of Second that I was going too fast.  I checked my app (which was off anyway because I didn’t start it on time….so much to think about at that start line!) and saw I was running a sub-7!  Whoa Sprenk, slow down!  So I slowed my pace a bit but wanted to keep it steady and still under 8 minutes.  By 1.5 miles, I was hot but still pushing.  We looped around in near Guthrie Green and headed back toward the Denver dip in the road.  I had to walk up that hill.  I even tried to pull on the strength of all those mornings running back and forth over the Boulder bridge but it just wasn’t there.  (The end of the race can be real tough if you tank it in the first mile like I did on accident).

Then I was on Second with the finish line in sight.  But still so far.  I turned it up a gear (or thought I did).  Making my way into the crowd.  Closer and closer to the finish line.  I felt like I was sprinting but video that Chap got showed later I definitely wasn’t.  Oh well, it’s all in the perceived effort right?

I crossed the line at 23:20.  Not fast enough for an age group place which is always fun, but fast enough to meet my sub-24 goal!  I chowed down on a breakfast taco and then had to run home to change before a morning at the studio.  IMG_1267

I’m so glad I raced.  Even though I didn’t meet my original goal, I didn’t quit and I learned from this race.  I’m a firm believer that every race, every training run has something to offer you if you’ll just look.  The good and the bad.  Yesterday wasn’t bad, it wasn’t my best.  But it was good!  And I learned that I need to pace myself!  This lesson will give me a focus for the next training cycle 🙂

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Sun was so bright!

 

Quick Race Review:

I enjoyed this race.  The course was challenging but a nice tour through downtown’s neighborhoods.  The medal was awesome (and not too common for 5ks) and so were the breakfast tacos.  I was not crazy at all about the very stiff cotton t-shirts we got and am certain I’ll never wear mine.  That’s mostly my only complaint about this particular race!  I’d definitely do it again next year.

The 2015 Route 66 Half Marathon

I’ve been waiting to write this blog.  And perhaps haven’t been posting other events because this one hasn’t been published.  Well, it’s time.  I’m ready to race again on Monday and I want to get this race off my chest, checklist and conscience before I run.

I’ve been avoiding thinking about the half last winter.  Avoiding writing about it.  Facing it again.  Let’s flashback to last fall/winter.

I’ve been chasing my 2011 St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon PR (1:47:36) since about 2012.  Not in every race season, but at least once a year.  And I decided 2015 was a good year to go for it again.  Track work, tempo runs and long runs became the norm and I racked up those miles as the temperatures began to drop.

I was feeling really confident a few weeks before the half when I ran in the Tulsa Run, a 15k on much of the same course as the half.  I hit it in 1:16:44 (pace of 8:13).  So I’d need to turn it up just a bit for a few more miles to get my half PR.

In the three or four weeks between the Tulsa Run and the half, I backed off the tougher runs a little.  Probably too much if I’m truly honest with myself (definitely too much slacking if I wanted that PR).  But, I still never expected that I’d feel SO bad.

On race morning I went through all of my normal routine.  Coffee.  Banana.  Water.  Foolish Things to drop stuff off and get some energy from friends.  Got a surprise walk to the start line from boo thing.  Was ready.

Too ready.   Started too fast.  (This is all I remember 7 months later).  Reigned it back in.  So hilly.  Cold chest, can’t breathe.  Only mile 3.  Slow down.  Keep going.  Plenty of time to make up distance.  Why’d I start so fast?  Need to walk.  Walking.  Feet hurt.  Knees hurt.  Why?  Don’t usually hurt this early.  People keep saying they like my pants (lace black Fabletics).  I don’t give a damn if you like my pants.  Crying, not even halfway.  Still cold in my chest.  There’s fella.  Stop to talk, tell him its not going well.  But must keep moving.  Will not get a DNF.   Knees.  Knees.  Do I need new shoes?  Maybe I shouldn’t have had that all that pizza.  And cookie dough.  It shouldn’t be THIS bad.  Mile 10.  I don’t even want to keep going.  Texting dad.  Positive words, trying to believe him.  Passed by friends.  Cheer them on.  Pass the marathon turnoff.  Find Katie.  Cry some more.  She runs me in.  Finally across the line.  Moon blanket. Medal.  Skip the food.  Where’s Chap?  Where’s a warmer blanket?  Hug. Tears.

That’s all my mind can recall at this point.  And feelings of major let down that lasted from mile 3 through the rest of that night.  I probably put too much pressure and hope on that single race.  I probably went out too fast.  I probably didn’t take those 3 weeks between Tulsa Run and Route 66 as seriously as I should have.  I probably did need new shoes.

Lessons learned:  I have a great supportive network.  From my mom and dad cheering me on in text messages.  To my friends who ran me in on the final stretch.  Friends on the course giving me kind words as they passed.  And a fella and sweet dog to distract me afterwords.

One bad race doesn’t mean your training went to shit.  I raced well shortly after this disaster.  Sedona went well on hills and at altitude.  I ran one of my fastest 5ks ever less than two months later.

One good race doesn’t mean the next will be good too.  Especially if you stop the work.

What a journey running and racing has been, and how much it has taught me about life.  I’m grateful for it, even through the times when I want to break up.  It happens to all runners – stay committed and some of your best days will follow!  ‘Til this year R66.