I have been one of the coaches for a training group that has been working toward a stronger, faster 5K called NOBO2. The goal race for the program, Jingle Bell Run, was held yesterday.
Let me just say this...I was a coach, but my group really kicked my fanny! I think I was pushed harder by coaching them than I would have been had I been a program participant.
Some of the people in my group had other races planned for their goal and some were injured. There were only a couple (from my group) who raced yesterday. Turtle (who was in my group) had gotten so fast I was afraid I wouldn't be able to pace her (she ran a sub-30 training run last week and was going for a faster time yesterday). So, I decided to pace two women who were going for 32 minutes (or so)--a 10:30 pace. We were joined by MV8r (who wrote the training program for Fleet Feet).
The weather was unseasonably warm yesterday. The high was something like 70! Strange to have a Christmas type race wearing a sleeveless top! It was a very festive race! They included jingle bells in the race packet to wear on your shoes! How cool is that? There were even several people dressed up in Christmas type outfits.
The training group met a little early to warm up. We ran a little bit and then did our usual warm up calisthenics (joint warm ups, high knees, butt kickers, high skips, striders...). Those things wear me out! But, I believe in the idea of warming up really good before a run/race, and the super fast coach who lead us in these drills every week kept saying to trust him. Funny...a member of the Fleet Feet racing team came by and said, "you guys are going to be worn out before the race even starts!"
As usual, I was very nervous. I just wasn't sure I could keep up a 10:30 pace for the full 3.1 miles. Not only was I panting from the warm ups, I didn't do so well in the last race (Running of the Bulls) at holding my pace. We've done a couple of tempo runs with a pace between 10:30 and 10:15, but they were only for 20 minutes with a 5 minute walk break followed by a second 20 minute run.
I kept hearing Daisy in my head telling me how sure she is that I am fully capable of running a sub-30 5K. Unfortunately I also kept hearing my own voice telling her I really don't believe I can. But, there weren't any slower runners for me to pace this time...so 10:30 it would have to be-like it or not.
Before I knew it the gun was fired and we were off.
My Garmin has been acting up lately, not giving an accurate pace, so I called it a liar when I saw 9:34. I was sure that was wrong, because it felt like I was running at about 10:45 or so. But when MV8r and the two gals we were running with started telling me we were going too fast, I suddenly appreciated the warm up drills for all their worth!! I slowed down. I kept waiting for my body to begin the revolt, but when we made it to mile one at 10:17 and I felt completely (COMPLETELY) fine, I knew it was going to be alright.
I was holding the pace between 10-10:30 when, some where between mile one and two, we passed by a guy I recognized from NOBO who had stopped running. Knowing the girls were in good hands with MV8r, I stopped to see what was going on with him. He was having an issue with his knee that I quickly realized I couldn't help with. I had to make a decision...either leave him behind and try to catch back up to my girls, or use him as an excuse to slow down.
I bid him adieu and set out to make up some ground. I passed by several people I knew, the whole time thinking they would be passing me soon when I couldn't breathe and was forced to walk, but I decided I had to try, knowing there was less than a mile and a half to go to the finish. I knew from my experience at the Huntsville Half that I could make a fairly aggressive sprint mid-run without it costing too much ((no you didn't miss the recap, I haven't written one)). I picked up the pace (according to my Garmin I was running between 7:30-9 for about a half mile!!). Before I knew it I had caught up with the girls!!
After going that fast (and feeling incredibly good despite some almost incoherent grumblings from my legs and ankles) I was just a little reluctant to slow back down, but I had to pace someone. (I had my race fee paid in exchange for being a pacer for someone in the group.) About that time I saw a girl up ahead from our group who didn't have a pacer with her. She was wearing the long sleeve training group shirt and was DIEING from the heat. She told me her goal was anything under 34. Looking at the time and where we were I told her she was going to have to pick up her pace just a little, but I KNEW she could (and WOULD) do it.
I reminded her to think about her form, and told her we were about to come to a slight down hill section (hoping to keep her mind off the slight up hill we were on). (I knew I was doing good when I could talk without gasping for air!**)
**Make no mistake, I'm NOT bragging here....I'm actually just extremely shocked that I was doing as well as I was. I mean it was not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I wasn't dead. I honestly think having someone to pour myself into helping, helped me not think about myself and gave me purpose and a reason to push harder.
As we got closer to the finish I told her she was going to have to speed up just a little more. She told me she might throw up (my thoughts exactly at that point)...I told her that was fine, she could do that, but she was GOING to make her goal one way or another!! She had been carrying a water bottle which I knew could be hard to sprint with so I took it from her. I told her as we neared the finish line that she needed to kick it up into high gear and RUN for all she had. I told her I was her person to beat and I took off. I have no idea who all I passed at the end but the last 25 or so feet I forgot about everything else and just let myself fly, in time to turn around and see the girl I was pacing fly over the mat in 33:16!!
I have to say, that was my best race yet. I felt exceptional the whole time. I don't know for sure if I could have actually cut 3:16 off the total time...but given the fact I stopped for what felt like a while to help the hurt guy, and the fact that I held myself back quite a bit almost the whole time, I honestly think I could have done it. Daisy has told me several times she has no doubt I can do it, but I know she's not in my body, and I do have doubts enough for the both of us!!
Turtle had a disappointing day, finishing in about 31. (Remember, last week she ran the same course in under 30.) The girls MV8r was pacing had a slower run this week compared with last week as well.
There was some discussion regarding why they all seemed to have slower times. The group's decision was that the warm up drills took something out of them...but I'm going to have to go with the heat instead, because I think the warm ups helped me get that first nasty mile out of the way. Now, for someone who is only used to running 3-3.5, maybe the warm ups did hinder rather than help, but I know I'll do them from now on before a (shorter-distance) race.
December 18th. Rudolf Run. I'm going to continue to train hard so I can have that sub-30 5K. (But my real goal is to beat Daisy in the race!!!....I can't say I believe that's even possible, but I'm going to hold on to hope anyway!)
Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!