Monday, March 21, 2011

The Worcester Celtic Pride 5K. Ya, I focused on the big picture but it all got fuzzy.

I am still short the goal money I needed to raise for my Boston Marathon run for charity. I'd appreciate any and all contributions. No amount is too small. If you are so inclined/motivated to donate just hit the button at the top right of my blog and thank you in advance.
Yes I was in the middle of marathon training but if I go for more than a couple weeks without racing I go crazy. So, I figured why not squeeze in an easy 5k? Its not much race mileage, should be fun and I'd still be able to go out and do the 13 mile training run I had on the schedule. Now the Celtic 5k is one of a 3 part 5k racing series that takes place in MA and RI. I considered racing all 3 to see how I'd fair but decided to just go with race in Worcester since it's so close to my house. The race happened only a few hours before the Worcester St. Patty's Day parade so there was a TON of people out to offer support while they were setting up in their spots to watch the parade. And, since it was pretty much the only race going on in the area that weekend and it was a "series" race, there was a A LOT of people racing. Notice I didn't say running. Yes, when you go to any race the participants are broken down into 2 classes: people "running" and people "racing". And now a public service announcement from me: As an FYI, the "racers" are normally adorned in local running club attire or sporting their marathon of choice clothing. Being in Massachusetts means "racers" are normally wearing BAA or any of 3 or 4 high end running club's gear or Boston "qualifier" clothing. They normally look like little gazelles and are warming up and stretching frantically before the start. If you see these people, they are taking this race seriously and are hoping for a placing or top ten finish. And now back to the recap. All that contributed to a "mini-Boston" kind of feel that was kind of cool (although after running Boston it wasn't even 5% of what I would experience at the Mara).

There were quite a few things this race had going for it (at least for me): First off it was on a chilly morning. Yes, I consider myself a Southern boy but I don't run well in the heat anymore. The cooler, the better. Second, it was an out and back course. I LOVE out and back courses. Yes, the turn might suck a little but it helps me gauge pace going out and coming back and if I can see the finish it motivates me to stay fast throughout instead of living off mileage markers to know where I am in the race. Lastly, it was flat...I mean damn near pancake flat! The race had expected pace corrals also set up and asked people to self seed. So, even though I knew I wasn't supposed to go all out I figured I'd move my way toward the front and see how I'd fare. The race starts and I'm off. I went out a little too fast (see the trend here...). And by fast I mean fast! I hit the 1st mile in 5:55 without even realizing it (and I was only in the top 50 with that time). Part if me was excited (come on, who doesn't want to be speedy?!) and part of me got concerned. I did have a 13 mile run on the schedule today after all (that longer mileage after and all out race is gonna suck).

So, I laid off the gas... or so I thought. The turn was hairpin, so a little precarious, and we were back on our way to the finish. I hit the 2nd mile 12:30. So much for laying off the gas. I was surprised actually. I felt good, I wasn't winded, nor hanging off for dear life which is my usual race regimen. It struck me that I could grab a PR. That elusive animal all we runners chase. I set a 19:54 at the 5k distance a year earlier (yes I have run a 19:30 but I was 20 at the time so that does not count now at my advanced age, with a broken body and over a decade layoff from racing) and I realized that I could beat it. Talk about a devil and angel sitting on your shoulders! In the span of about 30 seconds I ran through every discussion in my head. Should I turn on the gas and try for the PR? Should I lay off the gas since the focus of the winter was training for Boston and just finish? Or...should I stay at my current pace and just see how I fare? In the end I settled with Boston being the ONLY thing I should be focusing on and laid off the gas...finishing in 19:54 which put me 63rd out of 1426. Are you f'ing kidding me?! 19:54 and I laid off the gas? Sonuva!!! Yes, I know that I wasn't supposed to be "racing" the 5k but like I ever show up for a race to run "just for training" or "just for fun" even.Yes I know that there was a bigger picture but I am me after all. I could've smashed a PR. You know as a runner, when yo get fast, bating a PR by even 15 seconds is a big deal. We're talking I could've cut a minute, even 90 seconds off my PR. Ugh!

Think I could just get over it and move on? Why no, what do you think I got to ponder the whole time during the aforementioned 13 mile training run? Yup...welcome to being me. Note to self: if you have a chance to set a PR you'd better do it no matter what. If will sit somewhere in that 90% of your brain you don't use and pop up at the most inopportune times...

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