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Marathon of the Palm Beaches 5k

December 7, 2008
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A year ago, this was my very first road race. My first goal was to simply finish. My secret goal was to finish in under 30 minutes. I was a complete noob: I didn’t know what to do with my bib. I didn’t warm up. I drank so much water that I had to visit the porta-potties twice pre-race. I took water at both water stations–in a 5k. I went out way too fast, and ended up walking by the 1.5-mile mark, and again at 2.5.

In spite of all this, I finished in a time I never would have considered possible: 26:18, or an 8:28 pace. The field was so weak that it was good for 2nd in my age group, and I have a nice little plate to remind me of it. I was hooked on running, and was training for my first half marathon a few weeks later (which I completed without walking!)

Coming off my new half marathon PR a few weeks ago, I really wanted to do well at this course, fifty-two weeks later. It’s a fast course, and the weather was much cooler than a year ago. No excuses about being a rookie this time around, either–though I don’t live in a great running town, I have a few races under my belt now.

I ran a two warm-up miles, one easy, one with a few striders. I felt comfortable about the distance, but I’d set a high goal for myself: breaking 24 minutes. Every predictor said I could do it–barely. So I knew I would need a really good day.

My strategy: go out with an eight-minute mile and do each mile progressively faster.

Nailed the first mile perfectly. The second mile might have been a little too fast: 7:25. I was passing runners the entire time. A male runner in a red shirt decided not to let me pass. I didn’t mind; it gave me someone to pace off of. I got passed by the leaders just before the turnaround; my time was about 12:50.

I was still picking up the pace. At the second water stop I saw people taking water that hadn’t at stop 1; I remembered that stopping at this point would steal time and not hydrate me anyway and remembered Glover’s advice that it would be mentally uplifting to dump the water over your head instead; decided to try it since at this point I needed the lift–I was really pushing. At some points in mile 3 I was doing sub-7 and really hurting. My “pacer” dropped out at about mile 2.5, saying he couldn’t hold pace anymore.

I think this was the first 5k I really raced painfully, and I liked that feeling of going all out.

Mile 3 came in at 7:05. My chip time was 23:28.

Again, the field was weak, though we had Uta Pippig on hand to speak at the Marathon breakfast, and she raced the 5k “comfortably” in 20:44. In spite of her presence, my time was good enough for a sixth overall female finish and second in my age group again.

And I did it–I broke 24 minutes.

Next Saturday, an 18 miler.
The following week, a 10k, with the goal of getting as close as possible to 50 minutes.

*Oh, and here’s an interesting one. The triathlete kid who sold me my very first pair of “real” running shoes was volunteering at this race–first at water stop 1, then across the street, at water stop 2. As I passed him at that second stop, he said, “I told you those shoes would work for you.” He actually remembered me. Little weird, huh?

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