I haven’t done a whole lot of racing this year, which is a far cry from last year’s 100 miles of races! Without that race goal, I haven’t been as active about seeking out races and a couple of the runs I’ve enjoyed in years past fell on weekends where I was traveling this year so I couldn’t do those either. I ran a 5K on New Year’s Day and then didn’t do another until just a couple of weeks ago – 4 months without a race! I don’t think I’ve done that since my first 5K ages ago. 🙂
I’ve run two different 5K’s in the last couple of weeks and they were VERY different experiences. The first, the Run to Remember 5K in Omaha, came across my radar thanks to the Omaha Running Club’s Facebook feed. It was a weekend I was home and it had been ages since I’d done a 5K, so I signed up. I confess I was a little wary once I started getting bombarded with emails about the teams running the event – apparently, this was largely a team focused event, with families and groups who’d lost someone to car vs pedestrian accidents. I wasn’t sure how awkward it would be to run this as a solo runner, but it fit my training plan so I headed out and it ended up being not quite as bad as I thought. There were lots of families present, which I always enjoy, and a balloon release that was beautiful (if environmentally unfriendly) on a gorgeous spring morning.
There wasn’t really a starting line – we just all started going at some point. As we were in grass and I was stuck behind a bunch of walkers, strollers and dogs, it took a minute or two to find some space to run.
Once I was clear of the group, we were on sidewalks for an out and back course. There were a couple of little hills, but nothing too bad. I enjoyed running around families with children and through a park full of little soccer players. It was occasionally crowded, but not too bad and I was able to stick to my 2 minute run/30 second walk intervals for my tempo workout like I’d planned. After two miles, those intervals felt HARD! This was a much harder effort than I was anticipating and I’m not sure why.
We headed over a pretty little bridge and then turned back for the start. The race finished on the high school track, with a narrow finishing chute since this wasn’t chip timed and I confess: I kicked past someone at the end. I felt a little bad passing her, but my legs felt it and it wasn’t like I was SUPER close to her. I finished in around 36 minutes, with my last two miles sub-11:30 per the Garmin, which is on target for my tempo runs.
Sunday, I ran a totally different 5K, here at the research meeting I’m attending in Baltimore. I decided that I’d run this without a Garmin because it was cold and rainy, so I’d be worried about my footing more than my pace. I was going to take it easy and count it as my easy 4-5 miles for the day since it was a half mile walking over to the start.
I lined up toward the back of the pack and gratefully started running so I could warm up a bit. It was 50 degrees, windy and rainy so I was freezing while waiting at the start! This was a small race, so there were no water stations or mile markers and as I went along, I eventually realized “hey, I’ve been running for quite a while here!” I confess that part of my original motivation to run without a walk break was because there was a much older woman running in front of me. I was determined to run longer than her and figured once I got well past her, I’d walk. However, once I got past her, I realized I still had the ability to run in me so I kept it up. I was careful when the road changed under me (bricks and cobblestones and curbs to normal sidewalk and a slick boardwalk) but at no point did I stop to walk. It was a flat path for the most part, which helped, and the Hamilton soundtrack was keeping me company, so I kept going. Soon enough, the evil uphill finish was in sight and I finished.
I finished in 33:13, with a 10:41 pace (and frankly, since it was a gun start / chip finish and I was at the back of the starting pack, I was a few seconds faster than that). At no point during this race did I feel like I was pushing as hard as I did in the Run to Remember 5K that I ran with a eye on my pace and my effort, but still somehow slower. Isn’t it funny how that works about sometimes? The faster 5K was by far the easier effort run. Maybe it was the flatness or the weather or the peanut butter pie I’d had for dessert the night before – or maybe it was the fact that I was running naked, with no watch and no pressure. Side note: Others wearing a Garmin assured me it was the right length course. It’s definitely something to consider and definitely makes me wonder what kind of 5K I could run on a flat course if I really tried, but that’s a goal for another year.
Do you run faster without a GPS or specific goal? Or do you find that you need the “push” of constant data?