Cloudy, mid-40sF. Little wind and dry. Not a nice day for strolling around outside, but actually perfect running weather. And that was the plan for Sunday, 1 December. What better way to ring in a new month than with a road race?
Unfortunately, J — whom I often count on in races to set a great pace — had a bad cold and didn’t end up running. I decided to attach myself instead to CW, who often does long Sunday runs with J and me. She’d beaten me in a couple of recent cross country races, so my rough goal was to keep her in my sights.
I’d never run a 5 mile (8.05km — yeah it’s sort of awkward in kilometers) race before so was looking forward to a new distance: not as cutthroat short as a 5k and not as painfully long as a 10k, as CJ pointed out during our Thursday workout. I’d also heard that the Perivale course was flat and fast — indeed it was, a good course for a PR/PB (though as this was my first 5 mile race, anything would be a PB). Initially, I told myself I’d be happy with something around 37 minutes. That was before J texted me saying she was sad to miss the race, good luck, and “36mins something.” That put the pressure on! So with two goals now in mind — keep CW in view and run somewhere in the 36-minute range — I shrugged and decided to go for it.
The course was two not-quite-identical laps, with the finish being almost a full lap of a track. I knew if I could be under 20 minutes at halfway, I’d be in good shape for a decent time.
After the somewhat congested start, CW and I found ourselves running together for most of the race. Every time she surged a little, I thought, Just stay with her! You can keep up. Only __ miles to go. We ran a brisk, 7-minute first mile, then kept a pretty consistent pace — 7:10-15/mile — for the middle miles. It was really helpful to run alongside CW; she definitely kept me from fading in the middle of the race (though mile four still felt really long). My plan was to try and pick up the pace a little with one mile to go — or at least remain steady and try to have a bit of a kick around the track.
That plan seemed to work, because I slowly picked off a few people in front of me as we made our way through the last mile to the finish. One guy out-kicked me, but I finished in 35:44 (average pace: 7:08/mile) — under my goal and (in a friendly competitive way) just ahead of CW. I’m sure she’ll be back with a vengeance in the next Met League cross country race…I certainly wouldn’t have run this race as well without her excellent pacing — thanks, CW! Overall I’m very pleased with the race and quite enjoyed the 5 mile distance. I was also the third Heathside woman, though way behind the first two, who finished 2nd and 3rd of the 100 or so ladies running. We were the second-place women’s team — I threw that result off with my 18th place finish. Working on it!
Next up on the racing calendar: Met League #3 at Ally Pally, 21 December.