I was pretty psyched to get back to racing this weekend.
A planned 5K in late August was postponed into October thanks to Hurricane Irene, so by the time the Canal Diggers 5K rolled around it had been about 6 weeks since I raced.
One nice benefit of all this 10K training is I no longer sweat 5Ks. Although, I had one tiny worry on Saturday.
Because of the past week's biblical rains, my regular Tuesday & Thursday runs had to move to the treadmill, meaning I hadn't run outside in six days. I used to hate to run outside, but now I'm gun shy if I don't. Go figure.
Anyway, race day dawned and by the 11 am start it was very sunny and pretty darn hot. I took my usual position in the rear near the semi-elite elderly runners and soon we were off. After the first mile I knew I had made one mistake: I didn't drink enough water beforehand and I was very thirsty.
I never know exactly how much to put away before a race: Too little and you're dehydrated. Too much and your stomach is upset or cramping or your kidneys are begging for mercy. Regardless, I apparently drank too little and was super thirsty from the get-go.
Regardless, by the time we hit the 1-mile mark I couldn't believe my eyes. The clock gave me a gun time of 11 minutes and change. Since gun time isn't when I crossed the start, I checked my watch: I was running a 10-minute mile and change. That is very fast for me, but I felt OK, so I kept it up.
At 1.6 miles the (sadly for me) only water stop of the race was upon us. I did something I never do: I grabbed two cups, walked off to the side out of the way of the other runners and stopped to drink. I usually do that grab-and-run-and-drink thing, and while it looks cool, I'm not very effective in getting the water in my mouth while I'm running. This time I needed every drop, so I stopped and drank.
Feeling better, I took off and soon saw the 2-mile marker and clock. The gun time was 23-something and I realized, I could PR this. After my last race, I knew my next running goal (other than, you know, finishing without injury) was to run a sub-35-minute 5K. I could do that today, I thought. I knew the rest of the course was flat and I only had 1 mile to go.
For the next mile I tried to run quickly and efficiently, without blowing out too much energy and fading completely. Given it was only getting hotter, there was no shade in the blazing sun and I was once again really thirsty and not feeling peak, this was kinda tricky.
Soon, there in the distance, was the 3-mile marker and clock. It read 32-something. I knew I had it in the bag, but I decided to sprint the last tenth anyway, knowing sweet relief and lots of water were just up ahead.
As I crossed the finish the clock read 35 and change, but I knew my chip time would be under 35. I came in at 34:22, my fastest 5K yet. My previous PR was 37:33, but that was run in a monsoon.
I quickly swooped around the finish and headed into the staging area, grabbing three 20-oz waters and wearing my first finisher's medal. Seriously, how cool is that? It is an Irish-themed race, after all...