(Results) I cannot say enough good things about this race. It was great! It was super! At various times today after the race, people asked me, "so, how was the race?" and I could not help but say, "it was awesome! It was so great!" because truly, it was.
I prepared for this race. I made a plan, and I visualized the race for an entire 18 minutes beforehand, imagining all the turns and the vistas and the times and the thoughts.
My goal was to break 18:00. Last fall, my goal was to break 19:00, and I did, with an 18:58 at the Downtown 5k in September. I improved it to 18:26 in October, and all winter I tried to break 18:00. I even gave up ice cream for about six weeks preceding the USATF-NE indoor track championships, where I finished in a disappointing 18:29. In March I ran 18:24 at St. Pats, chipping two seconds from my PR. In April I ran 18:21 at the Scott Carlson 5k, chipping off another three seconds. Such tiny improvements were frustrating. This summer I ran a lot, and at the end of the summer my comfortable training pace suddenly dropped from 7:45 to 7:15. This told me that I was probably ready for a big improvement in the fall racing season, so I set my goal for this race at sub-18.
Race plan: Run with Katie. Run on her shoulder, and don't let her get away. If she gets away, reel her back in. Stick like glue to Katie as long as possible.
Time plan: Aim for 5:40 for the first mile and under 11:30 for two miles. Try to get to three miles before 17:30, because 30 seconds for the last 0.11 is really quite fast. The first mile has a downhill and the second and third miles both have slight uphills.
The course is quite nice. Basically, you leave the JCC, go to Blackstone Boulevard and run a ways down it, turn around close to the end (at Lloyd Street), and come about a mile up it, and then come back all the way on Elmgrove.
I lined up on the starting line. Steph and Katie were both there, so I expected to get third. Someone sang the national anthem and then I thought we would start, but after the national anthem someone sang what sounded like a Hebrew song of some kind. Mayor Cicilline blew the air horn and we were off. My reaction time was a little faster than most other people's, because I was looking directly at the Mayor instead of listening for the horn. Steph took off in the lead pack with the guys and I stayed at a reasonable pace with Katie. I glanced at my watch at the 3-mile line and saw that it was 33 seconds from there to the start/finish line, so I would have to get there in about 17:26 or faster. We turned a corner at 1/4 mile and Dave S. was right with us. Before the 1/2 mile turn onto Blackstone, we passed him. I have never beaten Dave before, so I confess I was a little excited to be ahead of him in a race.
The first stretch of Blackstone was perfectly straight. Katie and I tucked in behind three guys. I had a sense that she wanted to get around them, but it was impossible because we were running in the bike lane and there were moving cars on the left and parked cars on the right, so we couldn't go anywhere. It was a good thing we didn't, too, because as it was we passed the mile in 5:32. Alan had said to go through the mile no faster than 5:40, but I was sticking to Katie no matter what happened.
Soon we got to the turnaround point. This broke up our little group and we were able to get past two of the guys. Just before we did, a spectator shouted something like, "that's right, get those guys!" and then a few seconds later when we passed them (two of them seemed to be younger, and friends) one of the guys groaned, "oh no..." because he was passed by a female. Actually, two females. (He probably didn't see Steph way up ahead.)
Now we had to run up the gradual hill of Blackstone Boulevard. Katie got a little ahead of me, and I surged for a few strides to catch up again. Then she got a little ahead of me again, and I surged to catch her again. This probably happened five times. I was happy to see that it wasn't too hard to catch back up each time; the hard part was just to stay even and not fall behind.
At this point, there was a guy with long hair (not tied back, just loose) running with us. Every time I surged to catch back up to Katie, he appeared to take it personally, as he put in a big effort to get back in front of me. I tried to ignore his antics, but it was very distracting. After the third time I was getting fed up. I surged to get away from him, but again he got right back in front of me. I was not interested in playing games; I had a race to run! "I'm not racing you," I said. "That's fine," he shouted back. The next time I surged ahead, I was able to leave him behind.
By this time Katie had gotten a bit ahead of me, and we were coming up to the two-mile mark. I passed two miles in 11:11, for a 5:39 second mile. Wow! I was only hoping for 11:30, and here I was 19 seconds under my goal. Pretty exciting! I kept keying off of Katie for the third mile, as we made a sharp turn onto Elmgrove back towards the finish line. I could easily see her ahead of me, and I tried to keep the distance between us constant. I focused on increasing my turnover and speeding up whenever I felt that I was faltering.
Finally I saw cones and flashing lights up ahead. Was it really so soon? I glanced at my watch at the line marked 400/800 (for the children's races) and it said 16:11. With a quarter of a mile to go, I was almost certain to break 18:00!
I kicked hard from there. At the 3-mile mark, where I had hoped to sneak in under 17:30, I was thrilled to see a 17:09. Wow, I was really going to do it! This was a great race! I kicked kicked kicked and watched the clock tick 17:38, 17:39, and then as I crossed the line, the announcer said my name and "17:40." Perfect!
What does 17:40 mean to me?
1. As I said above, it is super! awesome! great!
2. It starts with "17:" which is quite amazing and wonderful.
3. It is the highest performance index I have ever run:
4. I broke 18:00, so I can try to join New Balance Boston!
Also, we had a Brown Running Club team, which was the second team overall and the first all-women's team. The prize is that we get our team name engraved on a plaque in the JCC. Cool! I will have to go there and look at it after it is engraved. So, thanks to Carmen and Emily for being a great team.
Also, there was a raffle afterwards. I nearly always win a prize in post-race raffles. I had three race numbers -- my teammates had to leave early -- and yet, when one of the numbers was called, it was mine. I won a case of beer and a yoga mat. Not bad!
Oh, and ALSO, I was expecting that since I was third, I would receive $50 (the prizes went $150-$100-$50) but it turns out Steph is in another age category, so I got $100 instead of $50! That was very nice. So, a good day all around.
Once Per Day
2 days ago