After a very laid back training period, this morning was the 8K race in Arlington. Curtis and I woke up at 5:15 AM to get ready. I let the dog out, had an English muffin with peanut butter for breakfast, fed both the cat and dog, and got dressed to leave at 6:15 AM. We arrived nice and early, found a parking spot on the street and went to pick up our race numbers, chips and t-shirts. I must admit, I didn’t really prepare for this race mentally. After doing mostly tris, it’s been hard for me to get into a race mindset before a running race. I think the hustle and bustle of setting up transition, pumping bicycle tires and quietly rehearsing the day in my brain is much more preparative than just showing up on race morning, shoes and number on and ready to go. I can’t quite explain exactly what it is, but there’s just something about the morning of a tri that fills me with anticipation and readiness that I don’t get out of running race morning.
The start was scheduled for 8:00 AM, and we had quite a bit of time to kill before then, so we headed back to the car to sit in the heat since it was a bit chilly in the low 50s this morning. Around 7:30, we headed back to the race start to use the porta-potty, meet up with our friends who were doing the race, C, J and D, and do a quick warm-up. I also had to finagle a method of attaching the timing chip to my shoe. Please understand, the timing chip was shaped like a small card with four holes punched out. It was perfect for attaching to shoelaces, if you were actually wearing shoelaces. I was not. I had my elastic speed laces in my shoes that had taken many runs to get adjusted exactly right. I don’t even know how many times it took me to try and find a way to attach that stupid timing chip without driving me crazy from it bouncing against my ankle or messing up my perfectly adjusted laces. I couldn’t even use safety pins because the holes were to far into the center of the chip for them to fit through! Finally, though I did get it attached and adjusted so that it didn’t drive me crazy.
At 8:00AM, we all lined up together, despite the fact that I knew that was a mistake for me! I do not like being lined up quite so close to the front of the pack and everyone else was aiming for faster paces than me (D’s goal was 7min/miles, Curtis was aiming for 8 something, J for 8:30, C for under 9 and me for 9:30). I just hate that initial rush when everyone surges past me at the beginning of a race. I’ve made that mistake before and gone out way too fast only to regret the move later. I’m also not used to all the chatting going on before running races. I much prefer the quiet or silent reflection of tris for mental prep before the race. Plus, I couldn’t hear any of the pre-race announcements, so I had no idea what was going on. Then, all of a sudden, everyone started moving forward (I think I might have heard someone yell, Go!), so I started my watch and took off.
As all my friends pulled ahead of me, I didn’t try to keep up as I knew they were all shooting for faster times than I was. When I reached the first mile marker, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked at my watch and saw 8:35. What?! I was either going out way too fast or the course was marked poorly. When I reached the second mile marker in 17 something, I realized that it must have been the former. By this time it was too late to make any changes and I had to just keep pushing. My heart rate was consistently in the 180s, but I was ok with that for such a short race (relatively). Soon after the 2 mile marker, I started seeing our friends run by on the way back to the finish- first D, then Curtis, J and I wasn’t too far behind C. Unfortunately, the turnaround also marked a change from a gently sloping downhill to a gently sloping uphill. While it wasn’t too bad and no worse than anything I train on, I had gone out much harder than normal and those hills really felt like work. Mile three came and went and I knew I had slowed down significantly. I tried to pick it up when I hit the 4 mile marker, but I just didn’t have a whole lot left to give. When I finally rounded the last corner to the straightaway to the finish, Curtis and D were there to cheer me in and I managed to “sprint” to the finish line, passing a few people in the process. My chip time was 46:49.9, which is about a 9:25 min/mile pace.
I should be ecstatic about my results. Though I’ve never raced this distance before, it’s definitely a PR for pace at any distance (including 5K!) and ahead of my goal pace at 9:30. Unfortunately, I’ve just had a bad attitude about this race and kind of disappointed that I haven’t managed to increase my speed more over the last year. I hated being the slowest of our group today and felt really terrible afterward. I don’t think I’ve ever had a race before when I haven’t felt good about finishing, today was the first and it was and is a horrible feeling. I wish I could just be happy about it.
Sorry for the downer post, just trying to be honest here.