I always find it a little tough to write a race recap for a non-goal race.
I didn’t really train for this race by following any sort of prescribed plan. I had no real goal time. I had never raced the distance before, and frankly, had no idea what to expect.
I was supposed to run this race with El Profesor, who lost interest in training pretty early on. He wanted me to run all of his runs with him, but as he was a beginner, the training runs involved a lot of start-stop which was flaring up my injury. Also, some days I just couldn’t run at all, and other days I wanted to get in a few miles at my own pace. So it didn’t work out for us to run it together.
He still came with me. He still woke up with the sun and hopped the 6 and then the Q all the way to Coney Island with me. He sat in the stands at the Cyclone’s ballpark and cheered for me. He watched me forward lunge and side lunge and squat and soldier kick to warm up. He held all of my crap while I made my way to the start.
The race itself is one which I would absolutely recommend to someone who has never raced before. It was small (less than 1,000 runners finished) and well organized. Packet pick-up was a breeze. The cost of $35 included a tech tee, Nathan’s hot dogs and fries at the finish, two drinks (beer was an option) and a ticket to a Cyclone’s game later that day.
Being accustomed to NYRR races, I arrived an hour early to get to packet pick-up, but there was scarcely a line so I had plenty of time to warm up. We were not corralled or seeded by time. Anyone could line up anywhere at the start. I noticed a dearth of women around my age who looked “serious” so I lined up pretty close to the start, figuring that if I could limit time spent weaving around other people, I might actually be able to place.
Then I turned on my watch and ran.
Those of us at the front split off pretty quickly. The middle of the pack and slower runners trickled back and the 20ish minute 5k runners moved ahead, so I found myself in no man’s land for much of the race.
Not having anyone to pace myself against was a little challenging because I never knew how hard to push. I didn’t look at my watch during the race, so I had no idea how fast or slow I was going. My effort felt very even though, honed on years of half marathon and marathon training.
I tried as hard as I could to keep any women from passing me. Only two did and it was clear that they were running much much faster than me but had just crossed the start later. I couldn’t keep up and it didn’t seem worth it to try.
The course was an out-and-back on the Coney Island boardwalk; so the sightseeing was pretty spectacular, but I was a little too preoccupied to take it all in.
The finish was at home plate at MCU Park. I had been pushing the whole time, but managed a kick at the end.
I don’t think I realized how short 5K would feel after a few years of racing much longer distances. Before I knew it, it was all over.
I finished in 24:26.
Average pace per mile of 7:53
Watch splits of 7:51, 7:59, 7:54 and 7:03 for the final 0.1
8th female between 30 and 39.
22nd female overall.
Pretty sick, huh?
Then I ran around trying to find El Profesor, before handing him my burger and fries and sucking down a diet coke. I am really glad that I had a Larabar with me, because the “healthy” options post-race were pretty limited.
Once I had the chance to freshen up, we spent the rest of the day on the beach and boardwalk and grabbed lunch at a cool cafe in Brighton Beach called Ocean View.
We stayed for the first 6 innings of the Cyclone’s game before heading home. It was a long day with an early start and we were eager to head back.
All in all, this was a very fun and relaxing day. I don’t think that I had ever been so relaxed before a race. The fact that I didn’t have any specific goals, didn’t have the pressure of months or weeks of plotted training behind me, and the overall simplicity and organization of the race made it super fun and easy to relax and take it all in.
So, there you have it: my first race post-injury.
I shared the good news with my PT and we’re working together to ramp up my training for the fall. I will likely tackle another short distance race (as discussed here) which is funny to me, because I always thought of myself as a “slow runner” who could run well over longer distances. But the truth is that I really have been a middle-of-the-pack runner all along, and now with all of the hard workouts that I have been doing and the different ways that I am training my body, I am beginning to see new potential.
It was suggested to me yesterday that I could likely take my race pace to sub-7:00 minute miles. It is all very different. I am just trying to stay positive and encouraged.
Thanks to everyone who cheered me on for this race…whether there in person or spirit.