The Monument Downhill 5K was a race in which I'd participated two years prior, but with oldest daughter, so today was my first real time racing the course. It runs from just below the gate to the CO National Monument, down toward town and finishing between a local restaurant and gym. Even at an easy pace two years ago, I decided that this race is not quite as easy feeling as one would think for a downhill, being out there with the sun beating down on you, though it's definitely fast.
On one hand, I really wanted to blow away my 5K PR, but I also woke up with a severe lack of motivation and just didn't have that chomping at the bit feeling as we rode our buses up to the start. I'd been out with the husband for dinner last night, at my favorite local restaurant, Il Bistro Italiano, where we had all kinds of yummy stuff including mango panna cotta for dessert, which was one of the most incredible deserts I'd ever had in my life, but probably not exactly on the "what should I eat if I want to PR tomorrow?" meal plan. I'm pretty sure the Pear Tree martinis (and I don't drink martinis...these things were like candy, I tell ya) were not on the meal plan either, especially when temperatures were forecasted to hit around 100 today.
Turnout for this race looked to be right around 75-100 participants. A number of running friends, acquaintances and other regulars seemed to be there today, including both ladies who finished first and second overall at the race two weeks ago where I was third overall, and really got out of my comfort zone to try to race for that second place slot.
I was glad to see them...they were total competitors on the course and totally friendly off, so I think that got my competitive juices going, knowing that we were going to have a chance to duke it out again. Fellow blogger Rebecca posted recently about some younger female racers who don't have much interest in building any comaraderie between fellow competitors, so I have to say I appreciate that we have a decent contingent of 30, 40 and 50+ year old women who fight like dogs on the course and say "hey, nice finishing kick/you looked strong today" after.
It was getting VERY hot even before 8 a.m., and I was getting antsy to start as the temperature continued to rise, with the occasional hot breeze/no shade from the sun combo. Finally, we were off and I went again with last week's strategy of going on the offensive immediately, chasing after the front group of men.
Of course, we were not even half a mile in when the other two ladies came charging up and slid right past me. I knew how fast we were going this early and that it was well ahead of PR pace for me, so I didn't try to push any more because I do think I would've totally blown up with any more-I had that vaguely sick feeling where you're on that ledge between a great race and disaster. I held my pace, which kept me a little back from them, but not by much, and they were not lengthening the lead.
Mile 1: 6:17
Things kind of flatten out in mile two, and oh man, did I mention the hot wind to our faces? Yuck. I can't breathe and cannot get in a good breath. I try to loosen up and calm down a little without losing pace. I'm getting to the point where I'd love some honest feedback here with regard to whether that's just normal for a race where you go 110%, or if that sounds like a possible touch of exercise-induced asthma. I've experienced episodes like that in extreme heat and cold, though not chronically, and I'm not sure if I ought to visit the doctor for that or just consider it to be par for the course. But, I digress...
Ladies #1 and #2 were still in my sight. All of a sudden, #2 stops for a shoe issue and although it's just ten seconds tops, I try to pound ahead with energy. She's tough, though, and steams on past again but doesn't make it back up to #1. I got a little burst of speed and really gave it all I had, and a few more tenths of a mile up I slid past two guys and the #2 lady, determined to fight to hold onto that position and set a PR.
Mile 2: 6:52
Okay, I am really feeling it now. I did not check my pace on my watch until I knew I was well over the 2.5 mile mark. That stretch of the first half in the third mile is usually pretty mentally tough for me so I thought I'd just disconnect from my Garmin, disconnect from the pain and race hard. First place seemed to be about 15-20 seconds ahead and I didn't want to spend any energy worrying about anyone behind me. I pushed on despite that increasingly more noticeable feeling of wanting to puke. I gave the Garmin a look finally and it was at about 2.6 miles-a great mental place for me when I could say "almost there, put on a good finishing kick, go get that PR."
Approaching the mile 3 mark, we finally get a little bit of shade here and there. It's enough to make a difference for me and I don't feel ready to stop now.
Mile 3: 7:12
I turn the corner for home and can see the finishers chute and don't know if I am close to getting clipped at the finish. I pounded it in hard, and just gave it all I had.
Last .1 (Garmin measured it exactly, too)-:37.74 (6:07 pace), Garmin time 20:58, official race time 20:57, second overall female and first in age group. That's a new PR by 43 seconds, and despite the downhill factor indeed giving us a chance to feel what it would be like to race at sea level, as the RD told us, I'm very happy with that time given that the heat, sun beating down, and stiff hot breeze to the face off and on out there did not make this an easy walk in the park to get that PR.
I thought that only overall open and Masters were getting prizes today, but they had money for second place, too, so I won $25 that I am going to turn around and give to Girls on the Run (I'm running with SoleMates, the former Team Tiara fundraising program for GOTR. If anyone's interested in checking it out, visit my page here).
I also won a door prize, bumper boat tickets for the local fun park, which my kids will love! Only odd thing is that they re-named me the 30-39 winner-even though it was just a ribbon I think they should have bumped me out, and acknowledged the third overall girl as our age group winner. She ran one heckuva race and I was glad we got to push each other out there like that. I believe she was about 25 seconds back from me but don't quote me on that-she had one great finishing kick two weeks ago so I am willing to bet that we were running a lot closer for most of the second half.
So, thus ends my three 5K's in three weeks tour. I have to say that as much as this distance hurts from start to finish, it's been a great way to slide in speed work before I really get started with marathon training. Two weeks from now, I will get to slow the pace down a bit at the Pteranodon Ptrot, where I will run their 10K race. They do have an accompanying 5K, but I've had more than enough of these all-out 5K efforts as of late. I recently ordered a new tech shirt from fellow runner/blogger/shirt designer Flo, and think I will don it for that event, because I really do promise myself a favorite microbrew to sit back and sip on in the evening following races. If anything, maybe I can illicit a few giggles from course volunteers while I am out there.