Today stood for the proposition that sleep, good nutrition and perhaps a bit of rest during the week are helpful to running a race, but also that a healthy, positive internal dialog is probably THE most important aspect of good performance. Hardly news, indeed, but sometimes reminders are helpful.
I got a really good night sleep after an emotionally draining day of work – such a good night that I woke up a little too late to work my planned run to Worcester State to volunteer for the weekly race, and run back. I took my time, ate breakfast, took the dogs out, and then headed over. I even stopped at Starbucks on the way.
Since Clearwater last week, I hadn’t run at all, to my shame. My plans have been to do 28-miles a week, and to this point I’d been either on point or close and had missed only two days of running this year. I basically missed all this week and I was feeling guilty about it. Arriving early today, I took the opportunity to do a quick warm up run of a mile or so and was surprised by the pace I clocked myself doing: a 7:49 pace. Unusual in that I don’t usually push myself that hard warming up or really outside of a race – and oftentimes not even then.
Then there was the crowd today: a lot of fast looking people showed up. It’s an informal gathering, so people show up on a whim, and the people who felt the whim today “LOOKED” like the kind of people who run fast. I know, a total stereotype or so it would appear. More on that in a minute.
A few announcements and what seemed like a quick “GO” we were off. I ran the first mile at a ridiculous pace – a personal best for a mile. I knew I had gone off too fast, but I’m working on my internal dialog to keep myself on task, to keep my thoughts positive (“if we can keep this pace…”) instead of the negative (“You’re going to bonk out if you keep this up…”), so I kept reminding myself of the distance I’d come, and that a personal best awaits so just keep going. I was feeling reasonably strong, but the second mile was considerably slower. First Mile: 7:09. Second Mile: 7:57.
As soon as the second mile clicked off as completed on my Garmin, I had to slow down. I was zapped. Picked it back up and ran…and slowed to a walk again. I did that a few times, but ultimately sucked it up. I had lost focus on my inner dialog: it’s not that I was saying “I Can’t,” it’s that I wasn’t having one. As soon as I realized that absence, I was able to control my pace again. I picked up my pace and hit mile 3, finishing with a rather surprising 8:20 pace for the mile. When I was running I was running strong.
I finished the course in 24:24 or a 7:49 overall pace. The last 0.1 mile was 7:29 – I’m guessing the last 0.6 mile of the race was actually about that pace. It was tough carrying my carcass over the line, but it felt good when I did. My friend Mike had finished perhaps 90-seconds ahead of me and he was waiting at the finish to cheer me in…a fact to which I was apparently oblivious as I came across the line. It was a bit of a struggle bus ride, but I finished with a personal best for the course and my second fastest 5k.
Now, not to take the shine off my pace today, there may have been something in the air; the top finisher came seconds away from a course record with a time just under 15-minutes, and second came in about 45-seconds later at 15:36. Perhaps a good rest, decent nutrition and positive internal talk all influence race performance, but sometimes the day just carries itself.
Clockwise (last 5):
January 27, 2018: 24:24. 34 degrees, sunny. Just beautiful.
January 13, 2018: 25:14 53 degrees, cloudy, 22 mph wind, rainy
November 25, 2017: 24:55 Sunny and 28 degrees.
October 28, 2017: 24:53 Sunny and 56 degrees.
September 16, 2017: 25:56 Cloudy, humid, 60’s.