Ever since finishing Leadville I've been itching to get back to training. Not for any specific race. Just to become a better, faster, Colorado runner. Days after the race I began to feel deflated. I had just finished a high profile 100. It was amazing. I couldn't believe it. But where would I go from there? It didn't take long to figure out I had tons to improve upon, which is actually quite exciting. Getting better is a huge part of what makes running fun for me. I don't know how I'll feel when I stop getting better, but I guess I'll deal with that as it comes.
So I've just been dying to race lately. I'm not quite ready for another ultra just yet. And I definitely don't have my eye on another 100 right now. So when my friend Luke said he was timing a 5k this past weekend and only 40 people were signed up, it sounded like a fun race to see what my legs could do. I'm really not a big fan of large races. I get anxious around huge crowds and annoying parking situations. Big races just aren't fun for me. Of course it also occurred to me that I could probably place well in a small race. So why not?
When I woke up in the middle of the night before the race and was hungover, I didn't think I'd be running, but by the time my alarm went off in the morning I felt fine. So I got ready, convinced Nick to come spectate and we were off to Denver. I wasn't feeling very peppy that morning so didn't know what to expect out of the race, especially knowing that it was a FOUR loop course.
There weren't many cars in the lot when we arrived at Arapahoe Community College. I registered, thought about refusing the tshirt since I just end up giving them all to Good Will, and put on my number and chip. Luke was setting up his timing gear and speculated that I would finish top 2. I wasn't so sure, though I hadn't seen any competition yet. Since it was such a short race I figured I should do some warmup laps. The laps felt long to me, considering we had to run 4.
At the race briefing, I looked around, and I don't mean to sound conceited, but I was confident that I was the fastest woman there. And there weren't many men I was worried about either. We walked to the start line, which was about a tenth of a mile north of the loop we'd be running. I lined up front and center. We started a minute or two early which was fine by me. At the word go, I took off fast, but my legs felt really weak like I might collapse at any moment. It was an odd feeling. So my lead didn't last long. I relaxed into a steady pace.
The first guy to pass me was a ridiculously tall 50-something. I could tell by his pace that trying to catch him would be a lost cause. Green shirt passed me a little later going a more reasonable speed. I let him go but kept my eye on him. I had noticed green shirt before the race and he looked strong, probably a trail runner, which doesn't necessarily make you a speed demon, but he was in way better shape than most of the other runners.
I was already worrying about my time and the length of the course after my first lap. I knew I couldn't just multiply by four because of the extra distance from the start line to loop, but I was still expecting faster than 6-something. I was putting a lot into it. My chest was burning like mad. I felt like barfing. The next few laps were challenging, because I was pushing as hard as I could and had to spend a lot of time winding side to side along the course because I was lapping big groups of walkers and runners.
It was clear that I wouldn't catch up with number one, but green shirt seemed to slow down on the third or fourth lap. But I held back not wanting to burn out before the finish. I felt kind of ridiculous the whole time, flying past so many people. Like I didn't get the memo that nobody was really here to race.
I ended up finishing in third place. I probably should have made a move on green shirt, but it wouldn't have made much of an improvement to my time. 23:55. I was SO irritated with my time. I keep telling myself that the course was long, but what irritated me more was thinking I might just have been slow. I didn't feel slow. My lungs were burning like I was running faster than a 7:42 pace. I felt like puking, which I didn't think was indicative of a 7:42 pace. I was kicking (see above). I probably won't let this rest until I drive back out there and run the course with my Garmin.
Ah well. If yesterday's race isn't an indication of any increased speed, at least today's run indicated that my hill training is progressing. I haven't been out to Meyer Ranch since before Leadville. It has a big climb. 880ft over 2ish miles. I wanted to run all the way up today. No stops for walking. Well I didn't quite make it, but I ended up running about 3/4 of the way up, which is still a major improvement from my other visits - walking most of the way up. So improvements ARE being made! And I did earn a $50 gift card for Boulder Running Company with yesterday's win. Life doesn't suck!