Last Saturday I completed the Dam to Dam 5K and I had a great time. Finally the weather was cooperating with my races and we had no rain or cold! It was perfect running weather! I knew quite a few people either running in the 20K or the 5K but wasn't planning on running with anyone. I prepped for this race like most of my others, trying to get plenty of sleep getting up early to eat breakfast at my normal time etc. I am a mildly superstitious person and up until last Saturday's race I had worn the same socks and shoes in every race. (this is crazy I realize, however it was working, I was getting better times in each race and it somehow felt like a vital part of my race prep) However during this last month I had really felt like I was having a mental block preventing me from training wells on my runs. It was frustrating- even though I was running several times a week a felt like I was having zero improvement. I was mentally giving up and walking at distances I knew I could run. Finally the Wednesday before I had a good run, everything fell into place and I was running (say in forest gump voice). So Saturday I decided to wear exactly what had worked for me on Wednesday, down to the socks.
I got downtown with time to spare, I was little concerned about the parking situation because it was such a nice day I figured people would be downtown for the farmers market, and there was extra traffic to the Principal Golf Classic. When I got the the start area I immediately head for the porta potties, I was doing a great job of hydrating fyi. After a quick stop in the porta potties I flashed my ID to get my alcohol wrist band for after the race (clearly I had my priorities for post race refueling). I walked over to the finish line and was amazed to see a pretty steady stream of 20K runners finishing. They were killing it with times just over an hour I was also jealous because they were already grabbing a beer and kicking back. Before lining up I saw an old college friend who was racing alone, we chatted until line up and it definately helped me kill time and not get nervous pre race.
I lined up between the 10 min mile pacer sign and the 11 minute mile pacer. This race had 3000 runners so it was pretty crowded. I keep telling myself that I didn't need to get a PR (personal record), if I just finished it without walking it would be 100% fine. It is harder to improve your times in big crowds typically because there are so many people that you either need to weave between to pass or if they are so many that you can't pass they often control your pace for you. It was really difficult to hear the announcer but finally they started the National Anthem and soon we were off. One advantage of a bigger race is that timing chips are more accurate. I have run 5 races this year that were officially timed, however only 3 of those 5 had a mat you needed to cross to start your timing chip. In big races this can be critical, if you are in the middle of the pack like me you didn't even cross the start line until 1 minute after the race started. Some races just have your beginning time as the gun time, meaning everyone's timer starts at the same time regardless of when you cross the start line.
The first mile was pretty easy, the sun was high enough that I didn't have to squint and people seemed to be moving pretty quickly. Around 1/2 mile in I started to have to dodge people people that were stopping to walk. The course was actually pretty similar to the route Laura and I completed in the Red Flannel run so it was kind of nice to run by everything again but be warm this time. Once we make the turn in the east village I knew what was coming- a hill. Hills are not my friends, and based on the people I could see starting to walk it wasn't everyone else's either. But a managed to make it up the hill and turn in front of the capitol for the 1st water station, this was another mess, everyone stopping for water. I just keep going past the first couple of groups, a volunteer handed me my water and I kept right on running. The next 1/2 mile was awesome. It was downhill and I felt like I was really trucking. I hadn't really been looking at my watch to see my pace, because like I explained above I didn't think I had much of a shot getting a PR and didn't want to sike myself out by watching my pace to much.
Once I crossed the river again, I could start to really feel the wind, up until then I hadn't noticed any wind at all. I was starting to feel tired before the 2 mile mark but I just kept pushing. That is when people were lining the streets to cheer the runners on the where the 20K course and the 5K course met up. There was another water station and I felt good enough to make sure I thanked the volunteers who were cheering us on and giving us water. Things were going pretty well and I no longer had to dodge as many people, most of the walk/runners I had already passed and really the only people in front of me were runners. This is where I finally glanced at my watch and I was doing a pretty decent pace. Once I could see the 400 meter sign I knew I was doing well. Between the 400 meter sign and the 200 meter sign I saw a woman next to me stop to walk. I really wanted to say- honey you are so close to the end just keep going, but I didn't feel it was my place. I keep trucking, once I could see the race clock I really tried to kick it into gear I was close to having a personal record and really wanted to get it. I finished pretty strong and stopped my watch- according to my watch my finish time was 33:21 for just over 3.16 miles. I grabbed my water, powerade, bbq sandwich, banana, chocolate milk and beer. No for real these are just an assortment of things I picked up on my way to the beer. When I finally got to the beer the line was long and by the time I got it, it wasn't really what I wanted. I forced myself to drink most of a cup but it really wasn't sitting well so I ditched the rest. All that work and I didn't even finish my beer!
It took most of the day for the official race results to be posted, but it was worth it. I finished with an official chip time of 33:08 (which is a 10:40 a mile pace) and a new PR!!!! Comparison to 5 years ago when I completed this same race I finished with a time of 42:01 (which was a 13:31 mile pace).
I also finished 703 out of 1678 of the women and 127 out of 303 in my age division. Pretty please with these stats!