I make poor decisions. I sign up for obstacle course races, even though I have no athletic ability or upper body strength. I sign up for marathons, even though I shuffle along at a grandmother's pace. And when it's 100 degrees outside, I sign up at the last minute for an evening 5K and run my face off, rather than doing the smart thing and sticking to the treadmill.
On Monday morning, Trea suggested we run the Heritage War Eagle 5K in Rogers. At 7:30 p.m. that same day. Even though the asphalt was melting outside and meteorologists were screeching words like "historic" and "record breaking" in reference to the temperature. I needed to do about 3 miles of speed work that day anyway, so I figured, why not. I made a quick trip home over lunch to grab some clothes so we could change at the office and head straight to the race. When I left work, temperatures in the area ranged from 100-107 with heat indexes (indices?) from 105-111. Awesome.
The race was chip timed, but there wasn't a chip start. We got burned by this at the Gold Rush 5K because we were too far back in the pack. So this time we got very close to the starting line, but on the edge of the road so the fast runners could easily go around us. The event was for the Rogers cross country track team, so we were surrounded by lean, athletic teenagers. As soon as the race started, everyone sprinted ahead. As I said before, I make poor decisions, so I tried to keep up with the pack. I looked down at my Garmin and saw I was running a 7:20 pace. SEVEN. TWENTY. I'm a slow runner. Pretty sure my Garmin didn't even know that first number could be a seven. I pumped the brakes and tried to shoot for 9:30. About 100 people passed me, but I know my limits, and I did not feel like testing the emergency response plan at this little race.
Mile 1 = 9:27
As soon as I took my first step, even though I had been chugging water all day, my mouth immediately felt like cotton. I could barely swallow, and I was so annoyed that I would have to lose time at a water stop on a 3 mile run. I blew by the first one hoping I could tough it out. But I had started too fast, and the heat and pace were getting to me, so I stopped at the second water station and just walked a couple of steps to get one drink down without spilling before picking up the pace again. I don't think it cost me that much time, and it was about the best drink of water I've ever had in my entire life.
Mile 2 = 10:14
After the two mile mark, I was seriously struggling. The sun was going down, so there was a little relief from that, but the heat was so intense that I could barely breathe. There was a breeze, but it just felt like opening the oven door. I wanted to walk. The course looped around a neighborhood a couple of times, and even though the loops were different, we kept running by where we started and finished. For some reason, mentally, that was really hard for me. I felt like, "We're here! Why in the world am I still running?" I wanted to quit. But then I stopped that train of thought and really made myself assess the situation. Did I feel nauseated? No. Did I feel faint? Not yet. Still sweating? That's a good sign. Is my heart rate OK? I think so. I gave myself a mental head-to-toe check up and realized that even though it was hot and the pace was hard for me and I was tired, there was no reason that I couldn't finish and finish well. Runners always talk about mantras, and at this point, mine became: "It's supposed to hurt."
Mile 3 = 10:02
The end of the race finished with a lap around the track, and even though I was exhausted, tracks just make me run faster. That final 0.1 was a 9:21 average pace, and I finished in 30:25! A new PR! I took about a minute and a half off my previous 5K time. Considering the temperature and my lack of speed training, I'm really proud of this. I know I ran as hard as I could, and next time I'll be able to run even harder and break 30 minutes.
Trea also set a PR and broke 30 minutes for the first time. He finished in 28:30!
This was a really tough race because of the heat, but I'm glad I did it. The not so great news is that now my marathon training plan has to change. My plan is based on meeting specific paces for each run based on my 5K pace. And since my 5K got faster, my training paces just got about 30 seconds faster too! Eek! My 16-week plan starts August 14. It's gonna be an interesting next four months...