This morning was my first ever 8k race and I must say I really enjoyed it. An 8k comes out to approximately 4.97 miles, so I figured I would take a few wide turns and end the race at an even 5 miles which I did :)
Going into today's race I REALLY wanted to finish the race in under 45 minutes, but with a bit of head cold and not much pace training the last few weeks, I was nervous if I would be able to make that so I set out this morning to have fun and get in another race. I was on my own this morning, John and Peachie headed to Lawtey early since I had to pretty much race and then leave immediately to go to to work. I woke up with plenty of time to spare, it was nice to relax a bit on race morning and allowed me to clean out my head of all the snot before I had to leave.
I got to the race site early, picked up my chip and took some time to warm up, and of course take self portaits. I opted to wear my hat this morning since I had a sneaking suspicion the majority of the race would be along the water and in the sun...I was right!
I probably ran about a mile pretty leisurely to get warm and my blood flowing. I knew if I had intentions of beating my 45 minute goal that I needed to be warm and ready to take off at goal pace from the beginning. The race had a lot more people than I expected, and even had estimated pace corrals set up which made me happy. I squeezed in between the 8 and 9 minute mile pace markers and my plan was to get somewhere between the 2 and hold on for dear life.
As we waited for the gun to go off, I decided my goal was about an 8:55 pace- I knew I would have the most luck if I tried to be consistent rather then starting slow or fast and then pacing each mile differently. The start gun made a really strange siren noise and we were off.
I was suprised with so many people that there was no bottle necking and we started off quickly and easily, sure there is always a person or 2 that you weave around or pass, but no different then at any other point in the race, I was pleased. I started off pretty quick- probably a tad too quick, hovering at about an 8:30 pace for most of the 1st mile and I knew I needed to slow down and try and be consistent- well the 1st suprise came and helped me with that no problem.
Last night I was a tad frustrated that there was no course map or elevation posted anywhere on the race website, but I figured when I saw the map before the start that it was flat since the entire thing ran along the river- well if you can't see where this is going I will enlighten you- there were some hills. Now not crazy hills but several good sized rolling hills back to back, so as I approached the first few at about .8miles I shortened my stride, slowed down a tad and powered through them. The hill was honestly exactly what I needed to drop me down to a reasonable pace...Mile 1- 8:50.
The course was great, almost entirely along the St. Johns River with a few turns to keep you on your toes and provide some shade, we passed several nice houses, and were never on a long never-ending road, I thought this was a great course and kept me intruiged the whole time, some shade coming into mile 2 was nice as it was getting quite hot running in the beating sun along the water. Mile 2- 8:58.
Once I hit the water station at mile 2.5 and checked my pace I knew I needed to make sure each mile was under 9 minutes, I was perfectly on pace and had enough energy to beat my goal, so I set out on a mission. I flipped the display on Garmie to show just current lap stats. Lap Pace, Time elapsed in current lap and Lap distance. This let me focus only on the mile at hand rather than pace at that second and total time and distance. Umm, why have I not used that screen sooner!!!!! It was great, when I would get about .2 miles from the end of the lap (each lap is set to 1 mile) I would speed up or keep pace to make sure I would hit that mile in under 9 minutes. Mile 3- 8:58! Consistent!!!!
After mile 3, some people started to fade and I still felt good, until a side cramp came up. I just breathed through and it passed pretty quickly. We then passed the turn for the finish and I saw all the elites making their final turn while we headed straight to finish the last loop, this gave me some extra energy and the fact that I was still on pace! Mile 4- 8:58...BOOM! Not sure how I pulled it off 3 times in a row, but I credit Garmie and the beautiful Lap display screen!
Once I made the turn at the mile 4 sign I knew I was golden, I had enough in me to hold pace for a 1/2 mile and then pick it up for the last 1/2 mile. Right at mile 4.5 we made our last turn onto the final part of the course, and I picked it up trying to catch a midget that was kicking it about 100 yards in front of me. I went ahead and switched my screen back to the main display so I could see my instantaneous speed and total distance at that point, and was going at about an 8:25 pace. I turned into the parking lot for the finish and with about .2 to go I just picked it up as much as I could. I passed 5 people between there and the finish line, including a 12 year old girl who I am pretty sure I made cry...oops! I was doing abotu 7:20 pace for the last minute or so, and was SO happy to see the clock at the finish line still reading under 43 minutes! Mile 5- 8:27! Done and Done!!!!!
5 Miles- 44:11, avg HR 181
Mile 1- 8:50
Mile 2- 8:58
Mile 3- 8:58
Mile 4- 8:58
Mile 5- 8:27 (best pace this lap 6:54- YaY!!)
After I turned in my chip I grabbed a Vanilla Myoplex and a banana and hopped in the car. The Myoplex like any other vanilla protien shake tastes like chalk- yuck! To all race directors- Please start having strawberry, Thanks. Love, Stephanie!
I am still on cloud 9 from my times today, it feels great knowing that I did everything right today and it payed off! I am anxiously awaiting the official results to see how I placed, but at this point I don't even care that much, I am happy, and an age group top 3 would just be icing on the cake.
Well I am off to change into normal clothes now since I have been sitting at work in sweaty race clothes for almost 2 hours, and think about how I will spend the rest of this glorious day!