My goal going in was to break 21 minutes. I ran the Oktoberfest 5k in 21:31 a few weeks ago, but I ran with reserve. Plus, it was a hot evening race, so I assumed I would do better at an 8:30 am November race. The course has lots of turns, but like all of NOLA, it's flat, so as long as we had good weather I guessed that I could knock 30+ seconds off my last time.
I woke up Saturday and just had coffee, although the late race start time had me wondering if I'd start feeling hungry during the race. I left the house to overcast, damp weather in the high 50's, but by the time I drove to City Park, the sun was showing occasionally and temps were up in the 60's. The threatening storm never materialized, despite fitful gusts.
I arrived early and parked far away, building a warm-up in, and did a last-minute check of the race website for starting location, T-shirt pick-up, and other details. I clicked through and realized that qualifying times for the 10k seeded corrals were 17:30 for A corral, 20:00 for B corral, and 22:00 for C corral.
I just ran 21:30 and now was shooting for 21:00. I mean, who cares about that improvement? Either way, it's a "C" time. To move up a corral, I'd need a sub-20:00.
I jogged to the start, picked up my shirt, jogged back to put it in my car, then hit the bathroom line. The whole time I was tossing pace ideas around in my head. I got in close to 3 miles warm-up, then did three 100m strides in the grass near the start. I squeezed about ten rows back as the national anthem started, and finally made up my mind - I'd go for 20. The worst that could happen is that I'd blow up, slow down, and run close to 22:00 - still a "C" corral qualifying time!
The gun went off and I surged with the pack. I had my Garmin screen showing lap pace and average pace, but it was having trouble generating data (for some reason, always a problem in crowded race starts) and the numbers were bouncing or just blank for much of the first half-mile. Up ahead I saw my friend Melissa, and tried to just keep her in view. I felt like I was running about the right pace, doing quick math, and resolved to keep the average pace at 6:24. I was too fast at the start: mile 1 was 6:19.
|I did not see any pictures of myself on the website, so instead you can look at this fast food. Har, har, fast food, get it? They passed me in mile 2. Nothing like getting passed by a taco mid-race.|
Yet at the start of mile three, I wasn't dying. I actually felt kind of good. I was scared to speed up, but in retrospect I don't think it would have killed me. What DID kill me was my usual finish-line nausea, this silly stomach issue I get as I near the end. We turned to finish on the track, and I was so nauseated that I couldn't pick it up for the last quarter mile. In fact, I slowed. I hit mile 3 in 6:27 and realized that I might not make 20! But I could NOT sprint without barfing, and crossed the line in - seriously - 19:59 chip time.