I normally wouldn’t be happy with running a 5k over three minutes slower than my best time, but crossing the line in 19 minutes, 55 seconds at yesterday’s New Paltz Challenge called for a celebration.
Going into the race, I had what I thought was the realistic expectation to break 21 minutes. At this stage in my run training, all signs pointed to a 20-plus minute 5k. I’ve only been steadily running outside for 2 weeks, averaging 3-4 runs between 3-5 miles. I did my first intervals the Friday before the race (2x3 min., 2 min., 1 min.) and my average pace was 6:40. Also, the race came at the end of my first 2 weeks of more serious training. I even did my first bike intervals (3x7minutes) the day before the race. The night before, I was up with Amy a few times. for all of these reasons, I thought it was a reasonable goal to break 21.
What I didn’t factor in were competition and my competitive instincts. When I got to the start of the race (after a morning that started with Amy at 5am!), I was happy to see that Terisa from the SUNY New Paltz track team and at least one person with racing flats on the start line. The gun went off and I instantly forgot about my scar and my lack of training and immediately started racing. I chased Terisa, which sent me into oxygen debt, and came through the first mile in 6:04, my new post-baby mile pr. Shortly after the mile mark, the wheels started to come unhinged. My legs, shocked from this sudden shift in pace, started to feel like they were separating from my hips. I still wanted to run fast and not let go of the competition, so I started focusing on form. I was able to pull things together and at the halfway point of the out and back course, I looked at my watch and saw 9:42. I then realized that not only could I break 21, but something in the mid-19’s was entirely possible. By 2 miles, my pace had slowed to 6:24 and my third mile was 6:36. I could tell I was slowing down, but knew I had to keep pushing myself to see what time I could run. Terisa ended pulling away and finished about 20 seconds ahead of me. Even though I finished second, I was happy that she was there because I wouldn’t have run as fast without someone to chase.
My legs are sore today, which is to be expected, but it’s right back to training. I’ve got a week to get even stronger for the TriRock Philly triathlon this coming weekend.
Thanks so much to Meghan N. for helping me get out the door on race morning and to Maggie for watching Amy during the race. Also, thanks to my mom for the motivating words the day before the race.
Course: New Paltz Challenge 5k, starting in Huguenot Street with a mile or so out on back on the Walkill Valley Rail Trail.
Nutrition: 1/2 bottle of First Endurance EFS (Orange) and 2 peanut butter rice cakes before the race. Post-race: ZICO Strawberry Mint smoothie with Ultragen.
Equipment: Nike Structure+ 16 Training shoes, Nike 2" Rival Stetch woven running shorts, Nike New Border Strappy tank