This week I was feeling great in my Marathon training, running faster than ever and recovering well! So I decided to jump in on a little 5k racing action to get a snapshot of where my training is. This is useful to my coach for setting target paces for my speed sessions as well as to gauge my progress in training. The 5k distance is shorter than I usually race – we joke about the value equation of entering a 5k verses a longer race – but I realized that this distance is really not one that I am used to racing so I decided to jump in and get some practice.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it is not really JUST the 5k distance that I am not comfortable with racing….it is ANY distance. As a distance runner, when we run a half marathon or marathon distance, it is more of an endurance game – did you conserve enough energy to keep your pace up at mile 13 or 26?, we do not have to push ourselves to the “I can’t breath” and then a little faster, it is a different kind of discomfort. When we run a marathon with a bunch of other people we are not generally concentrating on where we placed within the entire field or even within your age group, but your overall time. It is easier to focus on PR’s than beating people, but the bottom line is that everyone runs faster during a race than in training because of that competitive spirit so why are we so tentative to admit that competitive streak? Personally I think it is a fear of failure, if I put myself out there and admit that I am trying my hardest, pushing to run my fastest I risk disappointment. I risk failure, crashing and burning in a public setting. Plus the idea of competition, trying to beat someone else is kind of ugly!
So I made a decision to put all those risks aside. To quietly work my way up towards the front of this small race, to go all out from the start line and embrace that “I can’t breath” effort. To know that the second half of the race into the 15 mph head wind by the Detroit river would be harder than the first but not to use that as an excuse to hold back over this short distance.
I laid it all out there and I will be pleased with that. I will not say that I could have run faster, pushed harder, or wonder what if there hadn’t been that headwind. That is part of the racing, which is in turn part of training to race.
As I said, I don’t typically race 5k’s but I looked back at some previous times and I ran 1:30 faster than my PR from 2007 and 3 minutes faster than a race in February last year.
After I had finished I put another layer and ran the course backwards for a little warm down and to get some extra miles in – trying to encourage others as they finished, thanking the volunteers who stood outside on such a windy morning and helping to pick up a few of the cones on the Dequindre cut (a little cross training there!)
This was the inaugural Auto Show Shuffle, supported by the Parade Company who also put on the Turkey Trot. It was a great course showcasing everything that I love about the Detroit Riverwalk and the Dequindre cut. The volunteers were awesome and it got a lot of people out and moving on a Saturday morning in January, in Michigan. Here are the official results.
I followed the advice of my coach and treated myself to a skinny Chai Latte for recovery – protein, carbs and a little caffeine!
Do you race? Do you feel safer competing over longer distances? Do you ever have trouble pushing yourself to lay it all on the line?