Since the Shamrock Shuffle, I set my sights on gaining more fitness and feeling better in general. That doesn't necessarily mean I ran more weekly miles, it means that I hit the gym more and dialed in my diet by eating less carbs and more fat. In the month since I undertook this endeavor I can really feel the difference. Lifting a little more and substituting the cookies for bacon, helped me feel stronger and to drop those three pesky pounds which were keeping me from my "racing weight". Getting just slightly more fit, brought along a lot of side benefits like sleeping better, having more energy and more confidence that I did all I could (besides running more) to be ready for a race. It always makes me wonder, why can't I don't I do this year-round? Is the cookie habit really worth it?!
By the end of last week it was time for my annual neighborhood race, the Ravenswood Run 5k. How would I fare? McMillan said that I was in 18:54 (6:05/mile) shape. So, the negative splitter that I am, planned to run 6:05, 6:00, 5:55, 5:55. I wanted to beat 18:54. For that to happen - my kick would have to squeak me under 18:54.
After accidentally waking up at 4:15 a.m.(!), I did a 3.25 mile shakeout run to the Ravenswood Run course and back. It was about 38 degrees, and there was still snow on the ground from the freak late-April storm from the day before. I found out that the wind would be bad heading northbound, but that would mean a nice finishing southbound tailwind. I also gauged if it was warm enough to only wear shorts and a singlet by taking off my jacket for the final mile. It wasn't so bad, but I realized that in addition to the shorts and singlet, a hat and gloves would make things more comfortable.
|Early morning shakeout run to the race|
Mile 1: Since this was a CARA Circuit race, and there were tons of speedier runners present, I started about 10 rows back. As soon as the gun sounded, just past the start line, I once again saw a kid stumble, but he was propped up immediately by a good Samaritan behind him. What's up with kids tripping while racing? Are their shoes too big?! I was running by feel, and I felt astonishingly good, the wind out of the north certainly helped speed me up faster than goal. My arms were a little chilly, so I shook them out to warm them up. 6:00/mile.
Mile 2: At the start of mile two I knew I had started out perfectly and knew I could hold pace for the remaining 2.1. I spotted a guy who I knew was in my AG and who seemingly always starts out to fast (I passed him mid-race in the Shuffle as well). As I passed him once again, I could tell by his labored breathing that he was in for a positive split. I wonder why experienced runners continue to do this? We headed northbound into the wind, so I tucked behind whoever I could before passing them. 6:01/mile.
Mile 3: Right after passing the two mile marker, we ran into the quaint shopping area of Lincoln Square and I once again said my goodbye to the still shuttered Chicago Brauhaus. I was looking forward to the southbound tailwind once we made the turn onto Damen and soon enough we were there and the photographer was waiting for the spectacular photo opp under the Brown line! 6:01/mile.
Mile 3.13: I knew I was close to a sub-19:00 and used that as motivation as I sped up. Nothing like an arbitrary number to push you a little harder at the end of a race. I was running all alone as the finish line neared. The announcer called my name once I hit the first mat.
|Under the Damen Brown line Station near mile 3 (src).|
|About to hit the first timing mat (src)|
|Gotta stop my watch! (src)|
I stepped on the second (and final) mat and stopped my Garmin. I was finished!. 5:25/mile.
Official Finish Time: 18:51
Official Pace: 6:04/mile
Garmin Pace: 5:59/mile
Place Overall: 57th out of 2,094
Place Age Group: 1st out of 115
AG is usually tough since this was a CARA circuit run, but maybe the weather the day before kept some guys at home because I scored my first ever 1st place AG in a CARA race! I ran the race in over 19 minutes last year, and I beat the 18:54 prediction, so I was pretty happy. My splits were pretty much pristine - 6:00, 6:01, 6:01 and that was running by feel.
I ran backwards through the course (using the sidewalk) and found my dad and ran with him a bit, then I left him and ran further back to run with my brother and sister to the finish. After collecting our things, we drove home. AG medals will be mailed apparently.
I'm not going to race for another month until the Run For the Animals 10k. I don't anticipate ramping up the mileage between now and then. I like where I'm at fitness-wise, so I want to keep the positive vibes going. I think a month of consistent yet moderate training will get me to where I want to be for the 10k - (i.e. in just a tiny little bit better shape)!
Run for the Animals in June!
Run for the Animals in June!