How does it really feel to run a 5K race as fast as you bloody can?
You stand at the starting line fidgeting because you’re full of anxious energy. Other people around you are laughing, giggling and making conversation, but not you. You’re biting your nails and fidgeting with your bib because unlike most of the other race goers present in just a few moments you’re going to be pushing you body far out of its comfort zone. Your mind is awake and energized, yet you’re unable to focus on any one thing. When will this just begin? Can we get started soon please. I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready. Let’s get a move on here!!! Anxiety at its finest.
A few minutes later the gun goes off. As you burst across the starting line you immediately experience a mixture of hopeful excitement and butterflies in your belly. This is “it”, not just the starting line for the 5k but more importantly the official beginning of your long-term half-marathon training!! HERE. WE. GO!!! Even though you feel phenomenal you know you’ve gone out far too fast so you pull back and begrudgingly allow yourself to get passed by others. Even though your heart wants to run a sub 6 minute pace, the legs and the lungs are nowhere near ready for that pain. At the first mile mark hope turns into determination: you are going to do this!! I am going to CRUSH this race and it’s going to feel SOOOO good!! Yes! No turning back now.
Somewhere during the second mile your body begins to register that is is working harder that it is used to and harder than it wants to! An awful feeling slowly moves from your legs to your lungs and your once legs start begin to feel heavier and harder to turn over, all while your breath turns into a nasty wheezing sound that you feel like you could go down for the count at any moment. I can’t breathe. I think my heart is going to explode. No, maybe I’ll suffocate first. Speaking of your heart rate, what is it? Actually you know better than to look at your heart rate because it isn’t going to tell you anything you don’t already know: you are pushing your body as fast as it humanely can go given (1) your training thus far and (2) the dreadful, humid weather conditions.
You push onward through the pain because you know that you can, you simply have to find the strength. You won’t cross the finish line knowing that you didn’t give your absolute all today. You push your body past what feels normal and any assemblence of comfortable. I can’t breathe. I’m pretty sure I’m wheezing louder than the runners around me. and I think they’re looking at me funny. Is this normal? Nope, probably not (haha). Apparently I’ve mentally repressed past 5ks because is it really supposed to hurt this bad!?! Less than a mile to go- I can run a mile. One single, small, itty-bitty mile. Sad but true, you are now starting to become desperate. You try to inhale, yet it feels like you’re sucking air through a straw. There is no relief- yet. Not until the finish line which is just over a half mile away. Five tenths of a mile. Pain is temporary. I can run a half mile in the blink of an eye. Two laps around the track. I can do this, I have to. Pain is temporary. Give it your all. Go all in!! DON’T SLOW DOWN. DON’T GIVE UP. NEVER STOP RUNNING!
You turn the corner and can see the finish line!! A few more steps and then, only then I’ll be able to breathe!! The announcer calls your name- you are so incredibly close! Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot! GO, GO, GO! YOU ARE DONE! Time to find best fans in the crowd- the hubs and the little lady 🙂
Your face feels like it’s on fire, you’re panting heavily as you try to catch your breath, you’re legs are like cinder blocks as you carry them around to stretch and you’re one hot sweaty mess- BUT you did it! You are done! Maybe you PR’ed or maybe not, but it doesn’t really matter because you went all in today and THAT is something to be insanely proud of. 🙂
Interpreting race results: The Hollis School 5k as a starting point
Today I ran my first post-Boston marathon race, the Hollis School 5k. It was a super small, local race where most of the participants were families and school children. Even though I felt a little silly “racing” this event it was an awesome experience to start the race with so many hopeful, happy and energized children. They kept me calm (or rather calmer) at the race start!
After Boston I took 2 full weeks off from running and have spent the past 4 weeks developing a solid base mileage at base pace with ZERO speed work involved. Today’s race time represents a starting point for my training. With no speedwork, low mileage under my belt and nasty humidity I was able to pull 6:42 average pace for today’s 5k (my PR is 20:00 at the Frozen 5k in Jan. 2015) What does this mean? It means that I am at the beginning of a training cycle and I have a lot of work (and a lot of potential for improvement) ahead of me! As my coach Beth keeps reminding me, The goal isn’t to be fast now, the goal is to be fast in October (I have my eyes set on racing the Baystate Half Marathon in Lowell, MA in October). So lets get you there injury free and full of speed!
This race commences the next phase of my training: hill repeats, long interval tempo runs and the speed work sessions! Yes!! Yes!! Yes!! I am so excited!! Bring on the hurt! Wahoo!