Last weekend I ran for the first time in the Tulsa Fleet Feet Sweetheart Run. When I first put it on the calendar, I was thinking I would race the 5k in my ever-continuing effort to break the 22 minute mark. Then I discovered their option to do the 5k and 10k, one right after the other. I figured this would be a fun option, especially as I increase mileage a bit with upcoming half marathons (and a looming full in July – I know, I still don’t know how that happened). Also, since there are few things better than running with friends, I enlisted the company of Teresa for the 5k and Michelle for the 10k. I tried to rally some more friends but was unsuccessful.
The plan was to run with Teresa in the 5k, and chase Michelle in the 10. The race fell on the day exactly 9 weeks from my Boston 5k race, so I’ve been in speed training mode for a while – including track workouts, circuits and partner runs with M, who is faster than me.
I spent the night at Michelle’s, mostly because I currently don’t have a toilet in my house (post about the bathroom renovation is forthcoming) but also because who doesn’t love a sleepover? We are a sight to be seen getting ready in the morning. Making sure we’ve got coffee, food, bibs, shoes and gear all before heading out the door is a chatty, calm chaos with some pump-up music in the background.
We met up with Teresa at the Studio and walked to the start line. It was a little chilly and overcast but I knew we would warm up once we started running. Cassi and Steve were there to cheer us on!
In true Michelle and Sprenkel race form, we barely made it into the corrals before the gun went off. I stayed with Teresa and Michelle went on to run a 4th place age group finish. Teresa really wanted to beat her 5k time from last year, but I should have coached her better out of it considering she hadn’t run even close to the same training as she did the race before. Life was just tough the weeks leading up to the race and didn’t leave much time for training. If I had one wish for her, I would love that her competitive side could subside so she could just enjoy being out in the race (but I also know it took me years to develop that kind of relaxed approach). I loved running with you T, and am so proud of the runner you are, and are becoming! Can’t wait to race out there with you again!
I had about ten minutes to find Michelle. We reviewed our plan at the start line which was basically run fast but don’t kill us. I would stay with her as long as I could, like I do on our longer training runs, with a more specific goal of staying under an 8 minute average.
The first part of the course led us out of the flat Blue Dome neighborhood. We were mostly downhill out of downtown towards the river. We both had our watches on, and the Strava app going but I wasn’t paying too much attention to pace. My effort to this point felt strong, kind of in that perfect not too easy but not totally taxing zone. We were a little chatty and I was just thinking of staying with her as long as I could.
We cruised right down the Denver hill and my next goal was to really push the flat two miles we had left before we had to go back up the hill. This is also the part of the race where the lead runners started to run back against us. Michelle pointed out there were only 9 females ahead of us, we had a good chance of placing in the top 10 ladies. Soon, we were part of that lead pack running against the big stream and that is always encouraging to me. With the breaths we had (Michelle had more than I did), we cheered on people running against us.
Then we were at the hill, four miles behind us, 2.2 in front of us. We fell into the climb with another gal in a St. Jude singlet and the three of us pulled each other up that hill. Michelle pulled ahead of me, and I could hear her expletives as I let out exasperated sighs and our new pal commiserated with us. It was long and moderately steep – several blocks. There were moments I thought I would puke but seeing those two girls in front of me kept me in a run instead of a walk.
The ending was not glamorous. I was hot and humid by mile 5 and taking the cups of water to pour on the top of my head. This trick makes me look really really sweaty but also quickly cools me down.
When that final stretch of a few turns around the block hit, I tried to draw on thoughts of track workouts, step ups and jump lunges – all things from my training that make for strong legs. If anything, it’s distracting and helps tick off some distance.
Finished strong, reaching my goals and hitting a 10k PR. We hung around for a little while to get our official results – a 2nd place age group for M, 3rd for me. 9th overall female for M, 11th for me.
Overall, I really enjoyed this course. I loved doing the back to back races and getting the magnetic metals for each was clever. I’m very pleased to be placing in age groups in 10k distances and satisfied with how the harder running and circuit training is paying off. It hasn’t been perfect but it has been consistent.
Next race: Saturday, March 11, St. Patrick’s Day 5k.