Well, you've gotta start somewhere...and today was the day for me. Forgive me competition gods, its been MONTHS since my last race.
Over the last 12-18 months my training and specifically my racing has waned partly due to my health issues, partly due to my listening to everyone tell me I train too much/too hard and partly because my thought that if I'm not going to do well...why pay money to go do a race at all. But the only way you get back on the proverbial horse is to climb your butt back up there.
Today's Guinness Celtic 5k, a race I've loved and ran for years seemed like just the event to break my cherry. Its a relatively flat out and back course (they shut down a 6 line highway so you get 3 lanes worth down and 3 lanes worth back) with a slight downhill to the turn. I've turned a sub 19:30 5k on this course so I figured I could maybe harness some mojo. At the very least I know the course really well and that would help with being anxious. This race normally has way over a thousand entrants so I tried to pt myself in about the first quarter of the field. The thought was it would make me slower and my normal jack rabbit take off would be in check and I wouldn't get burned out before the first mile. Hmmm.
The gun goes off and I spend the first mile just weaving in and out of people trying to find clean pavement to run and hit the first mile marker at 7;28. Not fast by any means but at least I wasn't gassed out already. Now it was all about trying to find a decent rhythm/turnover/pace for the rest of the race. Did I mention its been months since I raced? So I get to the turn and and start the slight uphill back. I hit the second mile marker on a 7:43. I was hoping I'd stay closer to a 7:30 but could already feel my legs and knew there was a "just bear down and get through it moment"coming...and it came a few hundred meters into mile three. There's a little kicker rise and then it flattens out to the finish. All I cold think was "if I'm not about the throw up, I'm not working hard enough".
I crossed the finish line in 24 minutes flat (7:44 pace) officially. That was way off my PR on the course (19:45) but hopefully I'll just keep getting faster now that I'm cleared by the docs to get back to heavy training and racing again. Its certainly eye opening to feel what you think is max effort...only to see that pace is no where near what you max effort used to be. Well, back to the track and speed workouts for me...