Kevin gave me The Little Red Book on Running for Christmas and during this race, I put to use a few of the tips I read. The ones I really focused on are below (in my words).
1. Let your goal be to finish faster, not a certain time.
2. Listen to your body and don't look at your watch so much.
3. Don't start out too fast.
I really felt like a popsicle at the beginning of the race. I had on three shirts, a headband over my ears and even pulled up my hood for most of the race. It was so cold that Kevin and the boys stayed in the car during the whole race.
For this race, my goal was to finish stronger than I did at my last 5K (20:50). I would've like to have PR'd and broken 20 minutes, but I decided to keep with the tips from my book and make a general goal to finish the race faster than my last race a few weeks ago.
Before the race, I ran two miles on the treadmill in my new shoes at about a 7:20 pace just to get my legs warmed up. Kevin and I had stayed up late the night before watching the Orange Bowl (go Tigers!) and on race day, we'd just been playing with the boys all day.
I wasn't sure how smart it was that I ran a few miles before the race, but I didn't go all out and felt good, and my book suggested a run longer than I usually run before races, so I thought I'd try it.
When the whistle blew, I held back. I'm normally in the front, but this time, I choose to stay in the front pack, but not be side-by-side with the 15 or 20 guys that started off beside me. I enjoyed my run and gradually picked up my pace. I made it to the mile 1 marker and wasn't breathing heavy at all. I decided not to look at my Garmin and kept gradually speeding up. By this point, I'd passed a few of the guys and I began to focus on running to the next guy. One of my earphones broke right before the race, so I didn't have any music which caused me to have to concentrate on not psyching myself out as I have a tendency to do.
By mile two, I had passed a few of the guys I set out to pass and didn't hear anyone behind me. I looked to the guy ahead and started counting the seconds between us as we would make turns. There were about 18 seconds between us at my first count. I know he's a sub-20 runner, so I felt good with where I was.
At 2.5 miles, I looked at my Garmin for the first time and the whole "you're going to PR" voices in my head started which also led to my pace slowing from somewhere in the 6:20s to 6:38. I don't know why racing well and fast has this effect on me. I need to work on my mental strength. I popped a piece of peppermint gum in my mouth at this point and kept churning.
When I got to where I could see the end, I was excited. I knew I was going to beat my last race time by 20 plus seconds and I knew that unless something crazy happened, I'd PR.
I crossed the finish line in 20:20 (6:34 pace). I was happy with a 5 second PR and my first race of the year. I was the first female and 9th overall.
After the race, I started thinking that I should have run my first two miles slightly faster because a six-second faster pace would have given me a sub-20 race, but I'm really happy with how it turned out.
The race was 80's themed and though I didn't dress up (it was too cold to think about anything but running, much less wearing a tutu, wig or anything else for this girl), I was excited about the cassette tape medal. The boys were really interested in how a tape worked. I may have to pull some old ones out for them!
Have you raced your first race of the year?
Have you done a themed race?