So I had a race on Sat. March 16th. I had intended this to be my opening salvo for the shorter stuff I have planned for the next few weeks. I know that I was in very good shape and and was sure I would bag my first (official) sub 18 of the year. But then I got sick.
I started feeling it a little bit on thursday which was my first off day in 41. Friday, I only had an easy 4 which I labored through. We had some unusually warm weather that day, so I wasn’t sure. The rest of Friday zapped any confidence I could muster. I was breathing heavy going up the stairs. I felt tired and knew I was beginning to battle my cold. (I had a flu shot this year and I’ve had the flu before; thankfully this wasn’t the flu).
I’ll admit I was hoping for something special race day. It was very happy to see this race started at 10am. I got my rest and didn’t feel too bad but lurking in the back of my mind was a feeling that today wasn’t the day. My wife was also running the event (and was also feeling under the weather). My warm-up was typical and the gloves were on. However, I wasn’t in control. I would not be imposing my will on the race, I would run the first mile and see how I felt.
With a “go!” we were off. Immediately I was up in front. I felt okay and tired not to burn out. I didn’t feel like I was running all out but a good albeit detached effort. I was pleasantly surprised to see 5:42 for the first mile. I work a little downhill segment and tried to maintain. I passed one runner who appeared to be around my age. Effort-wise, I was but I could feel myself slowing. I promised myself that if I held pace and was near 11:30 for the 2 miles, I would throw caution to the wind and go for it. However, I was at 11:42. A 6 min mile that felt like a 5:40. At this point, I wanted to hang on. I still desired an honest effort and literally ran as fast as my body allowed me to go. Mile 3 was 17:38 (a hair faster). I thought I still might be in line for a decent time but as I pulled up to the finish I could see the 18:20s (on further reflection, I think the mile 3 marker was in the wrong location. I was slowing but not so much I ran a 46 sec.-1 mile ~ 7:40 pace). I finished 4th overall, 3rd male and 1st Master. The overall 5k winner was a woman who blistered the field. Unlike some guys, I find no shame in losing to a woman who ran that fast (17:05). I wasn’t spent and didn’t feel all that tired. I doubled back to cheer my wife on. Once she finished, we collected ourselves and headed home. We both agreed that we were so happy this was only a 5k and not a longer race.
I can’t say I’m disappointed. I didn’t run to my fullest but I know exactly the reason why. In fact, given that I still feel like crud 3 days later, I’m kind of amazed at the time I did run. I’ve had a streak of phenomenal races going back to 2011. I was bound for a down race and am lucky this was really a goal race.