Sometimes things just work out they way you want them to. Or at least pretty close.
Short story: Yesterday I ran the Chilly Chase 15K in Langley, BC. My time was 1:15:19, for a pace of 5:01/km. Just a hair over my goal of a sub 1:15 finish, but I am still very happy.
The start of the race was not great. Or should I say non-start: some organizational problems delayed the 9:00 start by about 20 minutes. I was not prepared to stand out in the weather for that long, and by the time we actually were able to go, my legs body was freezing and my legs were shaking. When the gun finally did go off, I managed to get moving pretty quickly (although had probably lost all the benefit of my short warm-up by then). My goal was to hold as close as possible to a 5:00/km pace for a sub-1:15 finish time. I thought my friend Rob would be running about the same pace, but he he got a better start than I did and I just let him go.
I hit the first three kilometre splits in just over 5:00/km, but I knew I had time to make up the deficit. There was a bit of a hill at kilometres 2-3 which also slowed us a bit. For kilometres 4-6 I actually sped up to under 5:00/km, hitting close to 4:45 on a couple of them. I worried that this was too fast, but the pace felt good-- and later I realized that I was helped by the downhill and a bit of a tail wind. Although the pace felt good, I have to say it felt pretty hard the whole time. I never really felt like I got into a smooth groove, but I somehow was able to hold on. Around the 6th or 7th kilometre I saw Rob up ahead by about a minute. I was glad I was not catching up to him, though, because I was afraid that I would try to keep his pace and run too fast. Oddly enough on this course I did not pass that many people and was not passed by many either. But it was a pretty small race and we covered most of the first 10K with the 10K racers; it was hard to tell exactly who I was running against.
By the time I hit half-way I already felt like I was fatigued; it was so hard to hold on. But my heart rate wasn't too high, and my body could do it-- I just had to convince my brain. I kept a pretty steady pace although was worried that I would slow down- and I did just a bit after kilometre 10. So maybe I did start too fast, and I almost let my race go at that point. My mind was playing tricks on me: “You're not going to get under 1:15, but anything under 1:17 would be respectable...” Then I thought-- NO! Just keep going as fast as you can, don't slow down on purpose. Hold on, this pace is hard, but it is doable. Just like the end of a hard tempo.
I actually had something in the tank left as I turned the last corner and saw the finish line. I am not sure where that extra kick comes from, but it was there. I crossed the line at about 1:15:30 on the clock, which would be a 1:15:19 chip time. That was good enough for 5th out of about 20 in my F40-49 age group.
I am very happy with this race, especially because it shows I can push hard even when things start to become really rough. I might have had a slightly better time if I could have managed a negative split, but it was still a very strong effort for the day. So I did not run my best race, but it was definitely a good race-- and a great first race of the year. Thanks for reading, and thanks for all of the supportive comments yesterday.
Here are the splits from my Garmin for the numbers junkies; more data can also be found on my itsmyrun entry (Laps and Elevation):
1 5:07 (cold start!)
2 5:12 (bit of a hill)
4 4:49 (downhill, and tail wind)
11 5:15 (bit back uphill, and headwind! and fatigue)
(the course actually measured a bit short, 14.95K, but I'll take it. :) The splits above are by pace.)