I ran 15:49 on Saturday morning at the Shelby Bottoms Boogie 5k. It was a breakthrough race in a couple of ways. Those who have been following my blog know that I've had a sub-16 5k on my mind for the last month or so. I'd taken several shots, but the closest I'd come was pretty far off. The progression went like this:
16:50, Howl at the Moon, 8/14
16:39, Run for Recovery, 8/22
16:29, Great Prostate Challenge, 9/5
15:49! Shelby Bottoms, 9/25
In 5 weeks, I dropped 71 seconds off my 5k and ran a lifetime road PR. Pretty snazzy. It's sort of hard to know what to say. Since I've been focused lately on the experience of running, and since the experience of running a PR--what it felt like during the race--is still fairly fresh in my mind, I thought I'd try to get it down in words.
Elly Foster got a couple of great shots of me coming through the last 200 meters toward the finish--they are posted down below. I am surprised to see just how intense I am. Or, rather, it is strange to see what that intensity looks like from the outside. I remember it, quite vividly, from the inside.
When the gun went off, I felt a strong surge of adrenaline and I was clear of the field in my first three strides. I had been hoping to find a group to roll with today, as it's a flat fast course and a fairly big Nashville race. But I was not distressed to be alone. I felt the same power in my legs that I had been feeling during the prior week of rest. I knew then, 15 seconds into the race, that the body was ready to race.
The goal for the first mile was 5:05. Just let the pace come to me and settle into a steady rhythm. Not too hard. But hard. Turn off the brain and run. The mile marker wheeled into view. I feel so good--what if it's 5:20? A glance at the watch: 4:59. Okay, I thought, here we go.
The second mile included a slick bridge (did I mention it was DUMPING rain?), and the lead biker went down on it. I dodged him and slowed down across it, then was right back in the race. I plowed through a few deep puddles and must have been hammering pretty good as I was down the road a half a mile before the biker got back on his bike and was back in front.
The last half of the second mile included a couple of hills. I was conservative on these, thinking stay on the line, don't press. The second mile split came up and I was still feeling strong. 10:03. I knew I had it.
The last mile, I tried to enjoy it. I concentrated on staying strong, and running hard, and I never felt fatigued. There was no one around. Just me, the lead biker way out front, and second place nowhere in sight. It was rain, effort, pace, body, legs--consciousness an afterthought. I looked for it, but couldn't find any pain. Three miles: 15:18.
The clock came into view, and it read fifteen twenty something. I charged for the finish, through the line and kept on going like a wild animal. I think I almost knocked a few people down in the chute. I don't think they minded. A sound hollered out of me--joy.
The difference between this race and the ones before? This one didn't hurt. The good ones never do.