“Just stick with it. What seems hard now will one day be your warm-up”Anonymous
Coming off of my marathon in December I was grateful for over a month off from structured training and speed. I needed a break from the mental load and heavy miles but realize I thrive well in the 40 miles/week range. I had thrown in some 5ks with friends (one for a birthday on New Years Eve and the other was the most last minute I ever signed up for a race because I’m a type A planner but had a great time). The real 5k training began at the end of January. My coach had me hitting paces I honestly had never seen or attempted before which were intimidating yet I seemed to surprise myself and excelled at 5k training plus a lot of hill workouts. There were only a couple workouts where I could not hit paces and struggled to get through but I call that a win. Not every run is meant to be perfect and we have other life stresses that go on, plus poor sleep and just busyness adds up.
I practiced a lot of visualizing of the course and tried to plan routes where I knew I would be running hills around the same time as I would be on the course. I felt mentally strong during training preparing for the race and was hopefully I could pull through that dream to break 20 minutes in the 5k! Last year I completed the race in 21:19 so my ultimate goal was to at least beat that.
In the morning, I had my race gear already laid out plus my race shoes and food I would consume before the race. I had been tracking the weather app all week and ended up being 60 F and humidity 80+% eek. Even though I attempted some runs in the sunshine on Friday and Saturday, they were not as humid as race morning. I brought a couple bottles of water with LMNT electrolytes in it to hope it would help.
I drove off to Ann Arbor at 5:50am after a 5:18am wake up time. I jammed out to my 2000’s Alternative Rock music on the way there to get pumped up! It was easy to grab my bib and use the bathroom inside Crisler Arena when I got there. Someone was nice enough to take my picture and had driven in from Grand Rapids (2.5 hours away) that morning to be there to experience finishing a race inside the Big House Stadium (which is an awesome experience as a UM alumni and fan!).
My coach wrote out for me to do a 40 minute warm up with speed work at the end. I ran past my old house when I lived on campus which was fun to see and memories running around the streets but man I could feel the humidity and it was a struggle to keep my heart rate down. I ended up calling my warm up early and got some of my speed work in so I could get back to use the bathroom again (lines were already getting long) as people were already lining up at the corrals at 7:30am for the 8am race start.
I changed into my racing outfit, put on my bib, sunglasses, and racing shoes. I took my Maurten gen after performing a couple strides in the parking lot and walked to the corral start. I did some dynamic stretches and lined up in the corral A. I thought I seated myself alright. It was weird no one was in racing shoes and I felt over (well under) dressed in my crop top race kit. I guess to win you have to look the part?
The count down for the race to start happened “10-9…3-2-1”. All the thoughts of training and how long it took for the race to get here was happening so fast all of a sudden. I visualized the paces I needed to hit and conquer the hill and off we went. I was seriously dodging people the first mile and especially while climbing the hill which was a lot of wasted energy I did not enjoy. I do wonder how some people were seeded in Corral A but you never know with runners who will surprise you and be speedy…this was not that crew though.
Within the first 0.5 mile there is a 0.25 mile climb on State St. to get on to Central Campus. The turns were tight and had to hop tall curbs with the cluster of people on the narrow streets (construction, bike lanes all going on in AA). I tried my best to squeeze through people to take the tangents for the turns. The first mile was 6:43 min/mi when I had hoped for 6:40 at least.
The second mile is pretty flat so I felt capable of picking up the pace and pegged a lady to keep my eye on for the rest of the race. I must admit I was surprised at how over dressed people were in general though. I was sweating in a crop top and short shorts while people racing around me and behind me had long sleeves and leggings! I know it is supposed to snow tomorrow but definitely not today! This mile was at 6:21 min/mi which was above my goal but still needed to pick it up to try to bring up my average for the 5k.
The last mile starts off with a nice big down hill for maybe 0.15 miles and I hit a max speed of 5:16 min/mi down it. I seriously hoped this would carry momentum up the hills to get back to the Big House. The struggle started happening up Hoover St. and started to get nauseated from having such a high heart rate for so long already. I was not acclimated to the humidity for sure but I HAD to keep going. My legs all felt fine but my heart was losing the push. At the 3 mile mark (6:16 min/mi) the time said 19:30, I had a glimmer of hope I could pick up the pace rounding the last 0.1 mile in the Big House Stadium. Once it changed to turf though it was harder to grip and sharp turn for the finish chute. Finish time was 20:11. 1st in Age Group and 8th Female overall though which was a surprise.
Honestly, I’m happy with this outcome. I’m so close and have improved my 5k times just in the past 4 months (20:55, 20:24, and now 20:11). I had a course PR and postpartum PR. I’ve never specifically trained for a 5k before so that was a fun experience and made major gains in fitness. I should probably pick a flatter course when I attempt again but I love this race and being in Ann Arbor which is still my favorite place to run.
We now transition to half marathon training and ready to see gains in that, I mean I need to chase that 90 minute half marathon time now 😉
Back to real life and being on mom duty for the rest of the day! At least we went to the movies and I could sit for a bit! Thank you for all the support and cheers and guesses on what I could go for in this race. I’m excited to cheer on friends racing in Boston tomorrow! Hope you run with your heart! 💙💛🦄
What is your race goal?
How do you handle not hitting your A goal in a race?
Has anyone tried the PR lotion before? I don’t think it did anything lol