The overall goal for 2017 is to stay healthy. After four years, I finally reached my goal of qualifying for Boston, but since I can’t run it until 2018, I planned on concentrating on the shorter distances for most of the year. I finally came up with some goals, and my racing season was finally going to be underway with a local race — my first race since my BQ marathon last November 12!
Victory for Victims 5K – April 22nd
I had a few goals for this race:
- Shake off the cobwebs and get acclimated to racing again – five months is a long time!
- See where I was in training and basically find out if I was within spitting distance of my [24:40] goal for reaching USATF All-American standard next month. It’s one thing to see encouraging numbers in training; it’s a whole other thing to see where you are under race conditions.
- PR darnit! Lol. Even though this wasn’t my goal race, I had hoped to break my 20 – yes, 20 – year PR at this distance. It was so long ago that I can’t even find any digital record of it, but I do have a plaque evidencing my third place in my age group, as well as a number (24:50).
So what I didn’t take into account was that not only was I not in race condition, I wasn’t even in pre-race condition. Sheesh. I am usually pretty dialed-in during race week, and having done over 30 races, I have a schedule down. Early in the week, I look at all the logistics (schedule, parking, bib pick-up, etc.), then I start extra fueling to aid recovery, I roll and stretch, and I make sure I hydrate a couple days before my race since I don’t like to drink too much on race day. So yeah, this time I did a same-day registration. I also did not roll and stretch much, but luckily I got a massage and cupping work done two nights before. Lastly, I made perhaps the worst pre-race dinner decision ever: Indian food! I love Indian food…like for post-race or any other time that’s not before a race. Oh, friends, not a good call. Talk about a first and last. Hashtag never again.
So it was with this mindset and physical condition that I showed up to my inaugural race for 2017. My pre-race mile jog did not help things as my legs felt logy. The 8:15 AM late start did not help matters as it was already a little toasty (it would end up being 89 degrees that day). However, despite the upset tummy, apathetic legs, and heat, I still had high hopes for a PR since I know the course well – it is my regular running route. And I secretly hoped to blast through to that All-American standard, even though it would not be official since it wasn’t a USATF-certified course.
The race is well-organized, plenty of bathrooms and easy access to bag drop-off. Anthem for 10K, watch 10K runners take off, anthem for 5K, and then line up near the front. The horn went off, and I saw a young girl who looked to be in junior high school take off with the guys…didn’t see her again until she picked up her trophy for first female.
Well, there’s not much to recap in a 5K! Ha. In fact, I think every 5K race recap can be summed up with these seven words: It sucked! It hurt! Gah my lungs!
I got off to the start I wanted to, but I could tell early on it would not be my day. Around the two mile mark, I started fading fast, and I was passed by a young woman. Shortly thereafter, I experienced a first…I missed a course turn! I noticed no one was running with me, glanced back, and saw the turn was a ways back. Argh! I wouldn’t have caught the woman in second; however, I did miss my PR by 3 seconds. 3 seconds, y’all! And I missed the All-American standard by 10 seconds. Womp womp womp.
Anyway, despite this frustrating and humbling moment (really, Mary???), I did manage a few very cool other firsts:
1. My first time winning my age group (and 3rd female overall);
2. My first time meeting an Olympic gold medalist .Rafer Johnson presented me with my first place medal!
3. I also met a really awesome person, which is very rare. I usually am in and out of races, but since I was hanging out for the awards ceremony, I ended up chatting with a fellow vegan runner and made a cool little connection! Yay.
Although I didn’t reach either of my goals, I had some unexpected cool results and was able to evaluate where my fitness was. A confidence booster for sure.
Official Time: 24:53
Age Group (45-49): 1/57
The Tommy Scott Memorial 5K
So this was it – the one for all the marbles — my goal 5K race. My final 2017 attempt at PRing and obtaining the All-American standard for this distance.
Unlike the Victory for Victims race a few weeks earlier, I prepared fairly decently the week of the race. More stretching and rolling, hydrating, and a much better pre-race meal choice. My only concern was the course elevation. The website did not show it, but I knew that area could be hilly (it’s by LAX), so I emailed the race director and received this response “There is a gradual, slight incline that is part of the 5K course. It’s more rolling hills than any steep incline. Hope that helps!.” Um, no.
So I am warming up before the race and ask someone if they know the course, and if it’s hilly. Lucky me – I found someone that actually ran this route regularly, and he told me not to worry about it, to just run my race. Wow, super uplifting…However, as we parted, he said “It’s hilly.” Gah.
I lined up near the front with two other ladies around my age. Our gazes could not avoid the obvious hill that faced us right from the beginning. We locked eyes and said “Not a PR course.”
Well, my warm-up mile had gone well. I felt pretty good, and I was just determined this day. My training times told me I could do it, so I just went for it. Like the previous 5K, it hurt, it sucked, I wanted to die. At mile 2, there is a long – long – gradual hill. I had to keep my eyes staring down or risk feeling defeated by the distance. I knew I had banked some good time on mile 1, so I just kept the pressure up as much as I could.
Well, you guys…FINALLY. I did it. I broke my 20-year 5K PR. My final time was 24:07, so almost 45 seconds. I also obtained my goal of reaching the USATF All-American standard for my age group (24:43). Coolest of all is that I am now faster at 49 than I was at 29. I mean, how awesome is that?
So it was another awards ceremony for me. It was another first place in my age group. Yawn haha. I NEVER won my age group before, and even though these aren’t the biggest races, it is still competitive and pretty cool.
I am so excited that I am getting faster at this age. And I was inspired to keep thinking it can continue to happen for at least a bit. The first overall female for the 5K is in the photo below, and it’s not the young woman next to me. She is on the far right…and she is 55 years young! How awesome is that?
I am thrilled to have reached my goals, but I am even more happy about having to never having another 5K again. Ha. Those are awful! Only for charity, friends.
Official Time: 24:07:06
Age Group (45-49): 1/63
Anyway, the Westlake 10K is up next in less than a couple weeks. More pain, just elongated, awaits. Yay.
Good luck to all those racing this weekend!