I finally feel in a position where what I have to say could benefit others in the pursuit of health, fitness and faster times. I've become very aware of my strengths and weaknesses as a runner and how to design my training to bring up my weaknesses and utilize my strengths to my advantage.
And I am nothing short of amazed at the results I have achieved.
Going into Thursday's Turkey Trot I knew I was capable of a sub-19 5k but I'm not sure I truly believed I would do it. I had run a 19:05 5k 2 weeks earlier (4 loops on part track, part grass course nonetheless) and a solid 6x800 workout of 2:48/2:48/2:50/2:50/2:53/2:53 3 days before, which both gave me confidence to do it. And yet I could not wrap my head around running an 18:XX 5k. I had butterflies and anxiety (although a weird sort of good, excited anxiety- adrenaline maybe?) for days leading up to the race.
And it played out almost exactly the way my Sub-19 had:
Nov. 13th- 20:07
Nov. 24th- 19:45
Nov. 11th- 19:05
Nov. 22nd . . .
I'm still in shock.
I won a turkey :)
I felt strong and in control the whole race, I went through the first mile in 5:46 and I knew then and there I was going to do it. Garmin splits- 5:46/ 6:08/ 6:03. My average pace according to my finishing time was 6:01.
Most of my time improvement has come from lowering my 2nd and especially 3rd mile. I've been running my 1st mile in sub-6 (but sometimes finishing with a high 6:30-6:40 3rd mile) for a while now and even though some would say it is better to slow down that 1st mile and run even splits, I didn't want to slow down I wanted to bring my other miles closer to my 1st mile pace. So I've worked hard at improving my endurance at that pace and it has paid off :)
To add to my already exciting Thanksgiving weekend, I hopped in another 5k yesterday morning. There was money awards to top 3 and I reasoned that I stood a chance depending on who showed up (there are a few local girls who can run 17s and even at least one who can run 16:xx). There was a pretty strong wind (20 mph) so my goal was just to go sub 19 again but I put no pressure on myself to PR (especially on unrested legs).
Within the first mile I was in first for the women and knew, as long as I didn't blow up in the 2nd half of the race, I could win it and run in the 18's again. 1st half was against the wind, 2nd half with it- so I knew I just had to push through that 1st half and then I could really use the wind to my advantage for a fast finish.
Final time-18:51 Splits- 5:59/6:20/5:58- You can see the wind really took its toll in the 2nd mile, plus my 1st mile was about 10 sec slower than usual, but I think that's the 1st time I've ever been sub-6 in my last mile.
To top off an amazing race weekend I won $200 for 1st female AND my fiance (who has been running 5ks with me since September and has dropped his time from Mid 25s to 22:38(!) on Thanksgiving) won his age group and a GC to our local running shop (Sayville Running Company). We stopped by there since it was Small Business Saturday and picked him up some sweet light weight sneaks :D
Where do I go from here?
Last year after my fall racing season and breaking 20 for the first time ever I actually stopped running completely for the month of January to focus on building muscle. I'm not doing that again. I will of course continue to lift (I actually spend more time every week lifting than I do running), but I want to see how low I can take this. I don't feel like I've reached my limit yet, and sub 18 had crossed my mind, but I know that is going to take some very serious training if I'm going to get anywhere near that and even then can I do it?
Right now I have at least 2 more 5ks in my season and I'd love to PR in one or both of them, 18:30 possibly? And then I have a 10 miler at the end of January, my ambitious goal is 1:05 or 6:30 mile pace. At the least the training mileage will be good for my spring season base building.
I'm throwing around the idea of a spring half but my main focus will continue to be improving my 5k time. There is something exhilarating to me about going all out for 3 miles, whereas the longer races are more about pacing which I just don't enjoy as much. But the urge to see if I can go sub 1:30 is there so I'll see how the 10 miler goes and then make a more definitive decision on my spring races.
Next 5k is this coming Sunday and I'm already pumped!