Finally! It has taken nearly 4 years but I finally beat my 5K PR (Personal Record). In all honesty I haven't done a lot of 5K races but the last couple I did were disappointing to say the least. The PR that stood this long was the Astros Race for the Pennant I did with Ken and Brendan May 2009. Back then I didn't wear a watch, had no idea what pace I was doing or what I was supposed to do I just ran for the fun of it.
The first 5K I have a record of is May 2, 2009, Cinco de Mayo, a race I had no plans to do until a fellow BTer and local triathlete talked me into it the night before. I was mortified at my 37:12 time. Just a few weeks later I did the Astros race and was happy with 33:06. After shaving 4 minutes off my 5K time in just a few weeks my expectations were high. Silly girl. A year later on a warm June day I attempted to PR my 5K and came up way short with a time of 35:26. This was very discouraging but who in their right mind goes for a PR in June?
My next attempt was another spur of the moment local 5K on a dark, rainy morning March 2012. I had been doing speed work and thought, maybe this time. When my good friend arrived to run with me I threw my watch at her asking her to pace me. Due to a miscommunication on my part she was unsure of my goal pace and I missed my PR by 9 seconds. SECONDS.
Those of us who race know to get a PR the stars have to align, the training has to be solid, mind right, body strong and the weather Gods have to be on your side. Perfect 5K temps for most of us living in the south is overcast and 50-60 degrees. Yankees, in general, prefer 30-40 degrees but that would require most Houstonians to don parkas and it's difficult to get up to pace dressed as the Michelin man. We don't get those PR conditions very often.
This race has been on my calendar for months. I was really sick and tired of seeing my 5K PR date of May 2009 to the right of my screen every time I logged a workout on BT. February seemed like the perfect time. The weather looked good but on my way to the race I noticed the temperature at 7:00am was 76 degrees. No bueno. I also neglected to check out the course which, as it turns out, is not an easy/flat straightaway but a hilly out and back. I'm glad I didn't know that part ahead of time as I know it would have given me doubts.
After telling my run coach I was going for my PR she signed up for the race to pace me. This turned out perfect since Ken had a Duathlon the same day. It was nice to have somebody there just for me. Adrienne has been my coach for a few months now and I can't say enough about her. I can be hard on people whose job it is to tell me what to do. I chose Adrienne because of her sports psychology background. I know there is no physical reason I am not going faster, it is what's between my ears that is holding me back. We can only do what we believe we are capable of.
To be honest I think Adrienne was more nervous before the race than I was. I knew she wanted this for me just as much as I wanted this. I was my usual chatty self at the start line but once we started I was focused. The mantra that immediately came to me was 'I can do this, this is my pace' repeated over and over in my head. Knowing we were going to start at my targeted pace of 10:35 scared me but I trusted Adrienne. I put my race in her hands. I wore my Garmin 910XT so I would have my heart rate data but I didn't want to check my pace at any time. At one point I did look at my watch and realized it was still set to bike mode which is probably best. I had my HR information but no idea what my pace was.
The middle was the worst, we were going uphill and the doubts and those damn demons popped in my head 'you have a half marathon in a month' 'what makes you think you can do an Ironman?' I was surprised how dark it could get in such a short race. When I got back to my mantra the anxiety and fear went away.
As we ran Adrienne fed me cues. She told me where my line of vision should be, told me we were right on pace, I looked good and even at one point when we came upon a very overdressed guy wearing huge old school headphones told me "You're going to beat him." The best cue she gave me was when we were approaching a hill, she got right in front of me and told me to focus on her back. I felt my heartrate scream and wanted to walk so bad but I just kept focusing on her back and before I knew it we were cresting the hill. This is a trick I will definitely use in the future. I remember her saying ".3 to go" and then "2 more minutes" there was another cue after that I don't remember but I pushed with what I had left and was happy with my 32:19 time. The goal I had given Adrienne was 10:35 and I ran 10:23.
We walked and talked after the race. I told her when the fear creeps in it's like those dark 'bad' ghost demons from the movie Ghost who come to take the bad guys. It is dark, they know your secrets and your fears and are just waiting for you to be vulnerable and eat you up. At times I feel like I have to actually swat them away. They are the voices of the people who told me I couldn't, who preyed on me when I was vulnerable who stole my innocence and a piece of my sole.
I've spent my adult life filling that hole, parenting myself and loving that little girl back to whole.
She will be with me when I cross that line. She will be an Ironman.