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2010 Rooney’s 5k

April 19, 2010

2010 Rooney’s 5k
Bib Number: 696
Overall Placement: 198 / 691 (28.7%)
Age Group Placement: 7 / 42 (16.7%)
Gender Placement: 82 / 373 (22%)
Garmin Time: 25:06

Forgive the delayed posting. This race was over a week ago, on Saturday, April 10th. Though the race has been run for a few years, this is the first time I’ve entered it. I don’t know where I was in 2008, but last year, I was running the 7-mile race around the Lake Okeechobee dike. This year, though, none of my running friends could make the Lake Okeechobee race, and it seemed too long a drive for me to make out on my own, especially for my current level of conditioning. Instead, I settled on running this 5k, which is just around the corner from my house, and at only 3 miles, easier to run hard.

I wasn’t entirely committed to running the race that week, and so I ran intervals the Tuesday before, something I probably would have foregone if I’d been planning to run the race well. I did 5 x ½-mile, going sub-8 on a couple of those repeats but having to work pretty hard to get there. It was frustrating at the time because my 5k PR is 7:33, and it was obvious from my workout that I’m far from being able to run anything close to that pace for 3 miles.

So it was that, on the week of the race, I ran 7 easy miles on Monday, 6 miles of intervals on Tuesday, 7½ on Wednesday, and 5½ on Thursday. I planned to take off Friday, as I usually do, but then my bestest running pal Little G asked if I wanted to run and so I threw in an unplanned easy 3 the day before the race.

On race day, I considered my options. The race was so close to my house it seemed foolish to drive there, especially with all the race closures and traffic confusion as runners drove into the neighborhood. Instead, I decided to run there, using the run as my warm-up. I took my phone so the Boss and I could coordinate at the end of the race and so I could have music while I warmed up and returned home.

The warm-up ended up being nice–two miles at about 10-minute pace. I tried to throw some faster running into the second mile but found myself unmotivated and decided to save it for the race.

Milled around for a bit, talked to some people I know from my long runs, and lined up. The course was easy–up the central boulevard to the turnaround, and then back. There was no question of hard corners at all–literally up the straight street and back.

As soon as we set out I was boundingly passed by two women in my age group whom I usually compete against. I let them go. I knew full well my own conditioning and knew that pushing hard in the first mile would only hurt me later. Instead, I found a pace I found comfortably difficult and settled in. I was happy, again, to find my pace hard, but not ragged, and focused on staying in that zone of difficult but not red-line effort. That first mile came in at 8:07. I grabbed water at the first mile, taking a sip before pouring it over my head–early April but already pretty hot in our southern climes.

The second mile was tougher. I was trying to keep my pace up above 8-minute miles, knowing anything else put me at risk for an early deficit of energy and leg strength. There was a bunny running in the race (I’m still not sure what the prize was for coming in ahead of her), a cute young runner wearing a rabbit-ear headband and cotton tail attached to her tempo shorts. She seemed to be running easy and relaxed, and I made a point of chasing her down in the same fashion–while running easy and relaxed instead of surging past her. I caught her just past the turnaround and focused on sailing south.

Got water again at the two-mile mark and then resumed racing. Now, only one mile to go, I told myself I could push as hard as I wanted and die at the finish line. So I did, and pathetically, pushing as hard as I wanted netted me exactly an 8-minute mile. So no sub-8 miles in this race, let alone a 7:33 average.

But I’m satisfied with my result. I raced hard, strategized well, and ran the best race I had in me that day. It’s the first race of the season, and faster times will come.

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