Even though my most recent race was on Saturday, it still feels like it was just yesterday. Maybe that’s because I just wrote the race report last night? Possible. At any rate, if nothing else, I think we can all agree that it hasn’t been very long since the last race so it’s a little crazy to me that I just got home after racing a 5k, and tomorrow I’ll be running a 3.5 mile race as part of the Chase Corporate Challenge. There is no rest for the weary ’round these parts, and man, am I ever weary.
But back to the racing. This evening I was part of yet another historic race–the first-ever NYCRUNS Lousy T-shirt Race. This is a new race series taking place in Riverside Park (right down the street from my apartment, yay!) every other Wednesday night at 7 pm. The field is limited to 250 runners, so it’s a nice, intimate experience. The entry fee was inexpensive ($10, and an additional $10 for the t-shirt), and there were plenty of bottles of water and Fla-vor-ices to enjoy after the race.
I’d say there were probably about 100 runners at this race, which was a nice change from a NYRR race where the runners number in the thousands and it can be so dense that you feel like your speed is limited by the people in front of you (this is particularly the case in shorter races like 5ks). This small group included my friend Karla, who was also racing, and my other friend Amy, who was volunteering (and just swam the Chesapeake Bay). It was great to see them both, and neat that because the race was so intimate, we just happened to meet up and didn’t have to make plans to do so beforehand. Before the race, I’d been worried that because the field was so small, I might be the last one to finish. But the group was a really diverse one, and there were people of all speeds and abilities in attendance. It was a cool thing to be a part of.
I finished the 5k with a time of 26:16, a mere five seconds off my PR! How frustrating, right?! Fortunately, like all races, this one turned out to be a learning experience, so there was something to be gained even though it wasn’t a new time to beat. In this case, I was able to recognize how important it is not to underestimate the power of a short distance. I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that because a 5k is so short, it will be easy. Of course, it’s anything but! A 3.1 mile race requires an intensity that can be hard to sustain, and I’ve found myself unable to do so in every one I’ve run recently.
I felt good after my first mile (that included a pretty big hill that always throws me off), and good after my second (even after stopping for water at a fountain along the course), but totally lost it in the final 1.1 miles. I was dehydrated and that caught up with me, I was tired from my race on Saturday, and I probably went out faster than I should have given the circumstances. I found that I had to walk a bit, and once I finished five seconds away from my fastest official 5k time, I couldn’t help but think about how the race would have been different if I’d run the whole thing instead of walked, or if I hadn’t stopped for water…totally a case of ‘woulda, shoulda, coulda’, but hard not to think about nonetheless!
The upshot of all this, though, is that it shows concrete improvement–if I was able to finish with a time that close to my PR after stopping for water and having to walk a bit, it means that I have a faster 5k in me somewhere, and it’s really a question of running a smarter race instead of a harder one. Recognizing that doesn’t erase all the frustration, but it definitely helps quite a bit.
I’m curious to see how tomorrow’s 3.5-miler will go. There will be 14,999 other runners joining me for this one, so I expect a completely different experience from this evening’s!