Sunday was the hottest it has been so far this year. And even at 10:30 a.m., it was already Sweating Steph temperatures. After an 8 minute warm-up jog, we hovered in the shade as we waited, trying to stay cool. Then we walked down to the start line, all 65 of us. This race was both the smallest and the most difficult 5K I've ever done.
The race director fired the gun and we were off. We followed the park road down a slight grade and back up around a corner. It went a little down and then back up to a turn-around point. Following that same path back, we turned off at a corner where our friends who weren't running were cheering. It was fun to have a cheering section for a 5K!
The next part of the course followed a paved walking/biking trail. Up and down and up and down and up and down... it didn't stop. I couldn't believe the hills. My first mile was 8:48. I felt good. It was hard, but I thought I could maintain it for the other 2 miles, until this middle hill section. I was slowing down. I couldn't get myself up the hills very well. My breathing increased to a rate that didn't match the rhythm of my feet hitting the ground anymore. It was a little out of control, and I knew I had to slow down. I couldn't wait for the water stop.
The water was ice cold. I drank some and poured the rest on my head. It took my breath away when it hit my chest and back, but it was what I needed. There was a brief section of trail engulfed in a group of trees. Shade! It was over too soon though. I hoped for less hills, but they didn't stop. The entire time I could see Casey out in front of me. I watched the gap between us increase. I gave up on the idea of catching him and running sub 9's, and instead focused on staying OK in the heat and finishing.
Maybe around mile 2.75ish there was a long climb. It went on forever and all I could think about was how I wanted to be done. The sun beat down. I was shuffling, breathing at a ridiculous rate. I probably could have walked faster up this hill. Casey was making his way up the hill, then walked a little bit at the turn which put us back in the parking lot, repeating some of the course we had done earlier. I caught up with him on another hill and then we were running the last agonizing .2 together. Having someone to run with instantly increased my pace and everything fell back into a natural rhythm. The last .1 was slightly uphill, a cruel ending on this already cruel course. We pushed what we could (at least it was all I could push) and crossed the line in 30:06, averaging a 9:43 mile. Ug.
Though it was a far cry from my goals, I suppose it really isn't fair to judge myself too hard from this race outcome. This course didn't have a couple hills. It was only hills. I am still very curious how I will do this Saturday at the duathlon (Tri for Joe). I'm pretty nervous. I want to do well. I want to feel strong. Tonight I missed the group ride after work because I was still at work. So tomorrow will be my last ride before Saturday. I will have to make it a good one.