It must be Christmas because this morning, Bill gave me the coolest present anyone could have given me, a 1 minute 41 second PR at the Fired up 5K. Bill volunteered this morning for pacing duties as I set out to see if any of the training I've been doing has paid off.
I've been chasing my 5K PR now for almost 3 years, since the Houston Press 5K, January 2005. About 32 months, major ankle reconstruction, a lot of yo-yo dieting, 30 or 40 lbs. lost, 30 or 40 gained and lost again, and few hundred miles lie between then and now. How sweet it is to finally feel like I'm making just a little bit of progress. I ran the Fired up 5K last year, just about as hard as I did today, and brought it home in 40:51. Today's race was 5 minutes and 47 seconds better than that. What a difference a year makes, huh? I couldn't be more thrilled for myself and for all the other Striders who PR'd.
The conditions this morning were suboptimal to say the least. The sun was behind the clouds but that's the only thing positive I can say. No breeze at all. None!!! The flags at the fire station were limp. Bill and I did a warmup and I was dripping sweat after just a mile. The good part was I warmed up quickly. After a few pickups we got our spot. I was casually waiting of the national anthem, a prayer, or something and bent over to tie my shoes and I heard, "Runners to your mark. Get set. POW!!! So much for patriotism, I guess.
Bill's original plan was to take us out just under 11 minutes. If 34 and change was possible at all, we'd have to hand around just under 11. Things were clicking along pretty well through mile 1. Bill's job was to pace and my job was to keep up. Bill did a perfect job. It would have been nice to have a little more in the bank after mile 1 but 11:14 was right on pace for a sub-35.
Mile 2, I was still steady and felt like crap but in a good way. I logged an 11:22 for mile 2. At the turnaround, I got a cup of water and splashed it on my head. That felt gooooooood!!! "Now, back to the barn," I thought. I didn't realize it but I had picked it up a little bit and according to Bill, dropped it down to 10:30 or so. Well, that didn't last as I slipped into a bad, bad place and had to take a 5 or 6 second walk break. It was just that, 5 or 6 seconds, a chance to catch just a little of my breath. Then off I went.
I settled right back in to that 11:20 pace. I couldn't (or wouldn't) seem to push past that. When I did, I just felt like I was gonna die. I tried to change my stride a bit, maybe bend my knees, lengthen it out a bit but I nothing seemed to help. This was my highest gear. Of course, you think it's your highest gear until the last few hundred yards. Then you realize you had another gear. After an 11:21 mile 3, I finished up the last bit at 9:20 pace for a 35:04!!!
I'll take it!!! If I had any energy left, I'd have done some cartwheels. Just 5 seconds off of sub-35 and in not too favorable conditions.
Lots of Striders took home hardware and all the Striders took home free socks. :)
Bill, this was one for the memory books. You taught me a lot out there about mental toughness. I'll not soon forget the stuff you were telling me about the 5K being less about your legs and more about your mind. Way to go out there today, buddy. I owe you big time. And great to see E, A, and P, too!!! That made the morning even that much more special.
Bring on Run with the Saints!!!