Sunday, May 17, 2015

2015 Spring Into Summer 5K (Middletown, NJ)

This post should really be titled "That Time I Came Within 5 Seconds of a PR in the Pouring Rain."

All week long, I was stressing about this race. Not just the race itself (the usual nerves), but the weather as well. I was incredibly lucky and had sunshine for all of my previous races. Granted, some had another less than ideal element thrown in (either heat or wind), but at least the sun was out. There was rain in the forecast on Saturday morning, but I kept hoping it would hold out until after I crossed the finish line.

As you can see from my outfit, I was NOT planning for rain at all. I mean, how was I supposed to sparkle in the rain? Priorities, people! ;-)

I woke up to sun on Saturday morning. Some clouds, but there was sun! My hopes were high for a clear race!

I got to the race site a little later than last year, but nerves were still high. Again, partially due to the weather, partially the usual race stuff.

This year seemed to go a little faster than last before the 5K start. The one mile race was first, and that's always one of the awesome parts of this event. Lots of kids running and they are always so cute to watch! 

In between the mile and 5K, I had to get a picture of how my outfit came together! I LOVE how it came out, even more than last year's!

It was a big hit with so many of the other runners! The skirt and the wings got the most compliments (Thank you, Team Sparkle!), although the tape and sleeves were close. Hey, I figured "Go big or go home," right? ;-)

Anyway, after pictures, it was time to line up at the start. This race is awesome in that there's a mat at the start, which means that your "official" 5K time doesn't start until you cross that mat. This is meant to avoid the chaos of scrambling for spots in the front, and for a mid-pack runner like me, this is HUGE! This is one of the main reasons I love this race and keep coming back!


The rainbow flag on the right is where the start mat is. I was quite a ways back, but again, I was fine with that due to the mat in the first place.

Moments later, the whistle was blown, and we were off! #10 was underway!

I felt like it took me less time to cross the start mat than in the past, and I later found out that it did. It only took me about 25 seconds, and I was walking up to it. Uh, okay? 

One I crossed the mat, I started running, and actually ran for about three minutes! Not at a crazy pace, but enough to build my confidence. Maybe this would be my day after all. There was the usual weaving due to crowds, but I kept my rhythm going, and knew that as the faster runners broke away, the crowds would thin.

After the first few minutes, I realized my app and my watch were not in sync, and at that point, decided to shut off my phone's picture but kept my music going. I had my Polar going, so that would give me a general idea of my time as I crossed the mile markers.

About 10 minutes into the race, when I was around 0.9 of a mile in, the rain came. It came fast and hard. It felt good, but at the same time, it was so annoying! I decided that I would keep my 1:1 running/walking ratio going as long as I could, and still hope that I could PR.

I hit the first mile just short of 11:00, which was PERFECT! I have a tendency to go out WAY too fast and hit my first mile closer to 10:20-10:30, so those extra few seconds made a huge difference! I was feeling good and kept my pace going despite the rain.

Every year, the second mile is always the most mentally challenging, and this year was no exception. In fact, it might have been WORSE because of Mother Nature.

Despite the rain, the crowds were as great as they were in previous years! In fact, there was one guy crazy enough to stand in the rain wearing a Rangers jersey and cap (they won, and I was crazy enough to yell "Go Rangers!" as I ran past him. Did I look like an idiot? Probably. Then again, what are the chances of me seeing him again anyway?

After that point, I had found a strong groove, and finally hit the second mile at about 22:00. I was at 11:00 miles and was feeling awesome! I was still believing that I could PR, but this third mile would make or break it.

I was doing awesome throughout the third mile, and was strong heading into the final half mile on the high school track, despite being soaked from head to toe.

Then I hit the track and started to feel slipping, so this was where I decided that the PR was not worth it at this point. I walked a little bit, then had a full out sprint and jump across the finish line! #10 was done!

I didn't pay much attention to my EXACT clock time, but I knew it was around 35:00. At this point, I thought I had a PR, but couldn't tell since I had no exact idea of my pace at all.

After crossing the finish, stopping my app and music, and walking a bit to recover, I grabbed a water and a half banana while I waited for the official results. At that point, that was about all I could stomach. This race has a BBQ after, and to this day, the thought of hamburgers and hot dogs at 9:00 in the morning after running a 5K still makes me queasy. 

I walked around some more, both to loosen up and dry out. I was soaked, and forgot to bring a spare set of clothes. Live and learn, I guess?

After a few minutes, the official results were in. My clock time was 35:05.9, with a chip time of 34:40.8, five seconds off of a PR. So close, yet so far. At first, I had the "Really?!" reaction, but then realized that conditions played a big part into it, especially with having to slow down at the end. Still, I was super happy with that time! I felt super consistent with my pace, which has NEVER happened before! Also, I proved to myself that I had it in me to do it again! 

I told myself that if I was this strong in the rain, imagine what I could do if it was clear out! I let myself have that moment, then moved on. There is no way of knowing, and I just had to live with the race that happened.

There is a reason runners train in just about anything, and yesterday was proof that it is a must. You never know what race day will bring, and need to be prepared. For me, this includes bringing spare clothes and a towel for after the race.

Overall, this is one of my favorite races, and you can bet I WILL be back in 2016!

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