Today I met up with a friend for a Turkey Trot in Acton. My plan was to run with my friend and see how long I could hang with him. But since he was running with a stroller, and etiquette requires strollers start at the back of the pack, I ended up switching plans at the starting line. I was also unable to find my usual “pace pack” – no one admitted to actually having a race plan, they were also just planning to have fun or “see how it goes.” Having done a negative split, 7-mile run last weekend that culminated in 7:30s, and consulting with Coach Brian before I left, I figured I should target a 7:30 pace.
It was actually hard to go out fast. The voices behind me were chittering about “no reason to sprint” and “let them go ahead” and “we don’t need to start to fast.” I’m sure I cued into these voices as they echoed what was in my head – I’m used to holding back, pacing myself, saving it for the end. But part of my goal in racing 5Ks is to NOT hold back – remember my Jan 1st goal? Still working on it. I kept telling myself it’s only a 20 min race, and I’m not known for my kick at the finish line so I might as well leave my effort out on the roads. I immediately started picking off people and I felt very solid at the first mile, coming in at 7:46, so I kicked into a faster gear for the second mile. I kept asking myself “can you go faster?” I liked running the hills (albeit small ones) hard and I always was able to pass people on the downhills. I tried not to let myself get focused on the next person ahead of me, but instead focus on someone even farther ahead whom I could reel in. I pulled out a 7:24 second mile and then sped up just a bit more as I found someone to pace with in the last mile with a few surges. I finished in 23:19 (unofficial) – a 7:29 pace.
Reflections: A longer warmup is definitely better. I felt good from the start, I certainly didn’t feel like I tired myself out, and it was nice to spend 20 min away from the crowds that tend to make me nervous. I can definitely challenge myself more. Next time I should target a faster just to see if I can do it – maybe part of the reason I feel like I’m at a fitness plateau is that I’m not continuing to push myself. I don’t think I can sustain a 6:30 pace like I did at the end, but a 7-7:15 pace still seems comfortable. I like running with other people. I didn’t feel particularly nervous about this race, so maybe that part is getting better! And I really need to figure out how age group awards work. I suspect I may have been top 3 in my age group but I was getting cold, I didn’t see any activity or organization indicating awards were imminent, so I decided to head home. I look forward to seeing the results when they are posted.
Addendum: Hey, I won my age group! Cool! And I was pacing off a 14 year old for mile 3. (Wow, I’m soooo old.) But I have to say, those Marx youth team members are inspiring! We’ve seen them at several local races in their fierce orange jerseys.