Friday, June 10, 2011

5 mile tempo

3.5 miles 

3.1 miles warmup in 24:00
China Grove 5k Race in 17:21 (5:35, 5:39, 5:33, :33)
2 miles cool down for 8.2 miles total

So I was supposed to do a 5 mile tempo but wanted to carpool to a race with my friends, so I ran a 5k instead.  There was also the incentive of cash for the top three overall winners, so that was a no brainer.  I spent a little too much money on my mini vacation with Garrett earlier this week so I could use the cash to help cover those expenses!  

John, Matt, Boriana, Alice, Lat, Lauren, Jay and I all met at the Dowd YMCA to split up into two different cars to make the 45 minute drive up to China Grove, NC.  The race start was at 9pm, and for the first time in my life I did race day registration.  I had considered running the mile but I ate a little too much of the Trader Joe's Frosted Wheats to prevent that from actually happening.

After seeing the familiar Charlotte faces of Pete Kaplan, Leonard, Theoden, Allen, and Christina, the Dowd group took off on an entirely social warm up.  It was great to be around Alice's never-ending exuberance and energy.  She puts a pep into anyone's day, that's for sure.  

Soon, we all surrounded Jay's car to put on our flats.  John commented to me that his legs felt really flat.  I agreed with him about my own.  After the standard set of drills and strides, we made our way to the start line. The race was packed with lots of talented runners, especially on the men's side as the mountain folk came down!  

After a really long prayer, we were finally off at 9:00PM. My start couldn't have been more perfect.  I wanted to go out really relaxed and to run as even as possible.   I glanced at my garmin and saw that my overall pace about 600m into the race was around 5:25.   I was happy with that because I knew that I would settle into a nice rhythm.  I glanced around and noticed a girl that I did not know out in the lead.  Lat even pointed her out to me.  I told him that she would come back to me.    Indeed, I did pass the woman pretty soon after I said I would get her.

I passed Leonard somewhere around the half mile mark and told him some words of encouragement.  There was a nice pack of boys at this point so I situated myself on the left to get the shortest tangent possible.  After the mile mark, I had already passed the majority of the boys and was left to pick off guys every 10-20 meters.  I went through the mile in a perfect pace:  5:35.  Admittedly, I did have a sliver of doubt of whether or not I could maintain this pace.  My stomach felt bloated and I felt like it was sticking out a ton.  Not a great feeling.

As I neared the turnaround, I saw John and screamed that "he could break those guys."  I also shouted for Jay and Marchinko as I saw them make their way back to the finish line.  Once I finally reached the turn around, I attempted to practice a technique Garrett taught me for making u-turns.  He instructed me to swing out wide before the turn and to cut in real quick as you round back in.  While I was successful in swinging out wide, I was cut off by another guy cutting the turn way too wide, and had to jump out of his way.  I surged after the u-turn because I knew that I had lost some seconds there.  Shortly thereafter, I heard Alice scream out for me and I couldn't help notice that she was a bit closer to me than I deemed comfortable.  I know that Alice has it in her to fly past me some day, but I didn't want it to be tonight.  

Over the last half of the race, I let go of my doubts, forgot about my bloated stomach and felt an overall calm and sense of peace come about me.  This hasn't really ever happened to me before and I'm going to have to credit the darkness for having a certain effect on me.  I knew that I was running better than I had expected and I really focused on just driving forward and having fun.  I passed through the second mile in 5:39 and was pleased I was able to main a pace in the 530s with the u-turn.  

After that, I kept picking off all of these guys until I came up one particular man who apparently did not like the idea of having a woman fly past him.  He stuck with me and we worked together for the final mile.  He did yell out the f-word at one point, which greatly confused me, but I chose to ignore his random outburst over nothing.  Soon I could feel him begin to drop off and I told him "Let's go" and he pulled back up alongside me.  He kept looking over his shoulder looking for who was behind us and muttering random curse words under his breath.  I was tired of his negative and somewhat angry energy so I decided to start kicking it in around 800m to drop him.  

With just under 400m to go, Ben Hovis told me to catch David Duggan, my former Wake Forest assistant coach, and I couldn't help but smile because I could see him fading back to me in a way that would make it possible for me to catch him.  I had probably passed over 20 people over the course of the entire race, but in the final 100m three different guys BLEW past me as they had a lot more speed in them down that final stretch.  I did lower the gap between David and I from 15 seconds to 1 second at the finish line, so I felt like I had accomplished something!

I finished the race in a solid 17:21, which is one of the best summer 5k openers I have ever posted.  I'm hoping to break 17 at the Beat the Heat 5k in Winston-Salem, so this gives me confidence that such a feat is possible for me this summer.  After taking two down weeks in the last half of May, I haven't even posted that many weeks of high, quality mileage so I know there is lots of room for improvement.

I'm also extremely proud of all of the Charlotte Running Club members who came out.  We really showed some great sportsmanship out there and cheered for lots of different people.  Even for those of us who came away feeling a little blue about the race, the food and celebration after the party wiped away any disappointed faces as we all mingled together over watermelon, cantaloupe, cookies, pizza and Cheerwine.  We also cheered on everyone who received an award from Charlotte and Alice Rogers definitely gets the best cheerleader award.

Enjoy the pictures of the group below.  
Jay and I putting on Body Glide 
The Charlotte Running Club at China Grove


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