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Dreher Park Dash 5k

July 27, 2008

I had this race on my calendar at the beginning of the summer, but hadn’t thought about it in a long time, since I had to miss an earlier 5k due to the patellar tendinitis issue. It had slipped under my radar. Earlier in the week, a friend called to ask if I was running it and wanted to carpool. Why not?

Arrived with plenty of time to register, but planned things badly and ended up spending too much time in line for the bathrooms and not enough time warming up. It’s okay. Temps were probably in the high 80s, this being July in South Florida, and I trotted around the park for a while and felt really disgustingly sweaty and hot. I’m not sure how much I ran–the Garmin was already beeping at me that batteries were low I didn’t even turn it on for my warm up.

Immediately after my truncated warm-up people were lining up for the start. Standing there, bunched up, I could feel the sweat dripping down my back. I had thought about taking off my hat, but even with the 7pm start time the sun was blazing and I knew I’d be thankful for any additional shade and sweat absorption.

Final race instructions were delivered and we were off. It was hard to gauge where the start line was because, though the race was chip-timed, there was no start mat, so immediately after the pack began to spread out, I got into what I felt was my 5k pace–about an 8:30 pace. It made me huff and puff from the get go and I cursed myself for not doing more speedwork lately. Why, oh why, have I been ignoring my intervals and tempos? Too late to worry about it during race time–must keep huffing along. I didn’t worry too much about it; I thought that I could probably keep the pace for three miles and just die at the finish line.

I remembered an article in Running Times magazine about mental strategies to use during racing, and I thought of one that I’ve actually used before. I picked out a runner in front of me and visualized her pulling me along. Many times, the distance between us gradually got shorter, and eventually I passed her. I got to work lots on my pass strategy during this race.

I did have one weird experience, and I actually didn’t realize what was going on until it happened a half-dozen times: I had another runner cut me off to prevent me from passing. It was a strange experience because most runners are competitive, but not to that degree, and will let you by when, in a given moment in a race, you are going faster than them. But this woman would not give me any room. The race was run on a very narrow trail, with many turns, so it was difficult to pass when she insisted on cutting me off on every turn.

I missed setting a PR by eight seconds. It’s a little frustrating, especially considering I may have lost those eight seconds trying to get by a selfish runner. However, I’m encouraged. I think I strategized this race well, finally realizing that the way to run a 5k is to really run at a pace that feels a little uncomfortable for the entire time. I ran hard, but I didn’t throw up, and though my end kick was available for the last quarter-mile, I was spent at the end. Though my middle mile was a little slower, I think that was due to water stops and turns, and that I would otherwise have run negative splits. This was also a curvy, packed-dirt course, and an evening race, characteristics not well-suited to setting a PR.

My time, 26:26, was good for 169 of 412 runners, 47 of 192 women, and 4 of 14 in my age group.

My six-word race report: Evening race, tight turns, no PR.

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