Every year, the race ends up being hot. Usually it's unseasonably hot and I'm not acclimated to the heat yet so my times are never fantastic. So my goal for the past few years has been to set a course PR. This year, I had to beat 49:50, which I thought was very manageable, given my recent PRs and speed workouts. I was going to target a 7:45-7:50 pace and hopefully end up at 48:xx.
My husband was unable to run the race due to a work obligation, so I carpooled with my friend Chad. I picked him up at 6:00, which should have given us plenty of time to park, pick up our bibs, warmup, and be ready for the 7:30am start. But despite my planning, we still ended up cutting it close on time. We had to take a detour because 66 East was closed due to construction. Luckily I knew a way around it, but the traffic leading up the closure added about 10 minutes onto our trip.
We arrived at the race, parked and went to get our bibs. As expected, I got a medium shirt. That makes 7 medium Lawyers Have Heart shirts, despite the fact that every year I register for a small. And it's not like I'm picking it up at the last minute either. I typically arrive 45-60 minutes before race start, which is a perfectly reasonable time to show up. I just don't understand why they don't order more smalls since they run out every single year. Furthermore, how hard is it to only give people the shirt size they registered for instead of just letting them pick whatever they want once they see that the shirts run big. Oh well, they make good sleep shirts.
After I got my packet, I went over to where Chad was registering on-site, and he told me that they changed the race to the 5K. Really!? The person who gave me my bib didn't tell me this, and it was pretty critical information. We didn't know why, but after the race, I ran into my favorite race director, Kathy Dalby, who said that the city officials told them that morning that they were only allowed to do a 5K because of the weather. It was a combination of heat, humidity and smog that made city officials fear that runners would have difficulty breathing.
I was thankful that Chad told me about the switch because otherwise I might not have known. After the race, we overheard some runners saying that they had no idea they were actually running a 5K. The announcer made his best effort to communicate this, but there were many people who weren't paying attention. Before the race, I also overheard some people getting angry that they paid $45 for a 5K. Relax-- it's for a good cause and the change was made for your safety!
Chad and I went back to my car, put our bibs on and warmed up. We only had time for a 0.6 mile warmup, but I was okay with that given that I wanted to stay "cool" and not warmed! I had mixed feelings about the change, but I didn't really have time to think about it too much. I had to focus on running a strong 5K and think about what my goals would be. I decided that I wanted a "hot weather" PR, which would be sub 23:21. I also had a stretch goal of sub-23, but given the weather, I didn't think that was likely.
The start line was extremely crowded, and there were quite a few people in the front that clearly didn't belong there (yes-- you wearing the race t-shirt and pinning your bib number to the back of that shirt). I lined up in the area marked 7:00-8:00 pace, but I don't think most people were paying attention to the signs.
Mile 1 - 7:20
When we took off, I started at what felt like 5K pace. I didn't really have a strategy. I was just going to do what felt like 5K pace and see how long I could hold onto it. I had been planning on wearing a heart rate monitor for the 10K, but once it got changed to the 5K, I decided to ditch it because the purpose of the monitor had been to make sure my HR didn't get too high too soon. But I knew it would during a 5K and didn't want the numbers to scare me.
Speaking of Garmin data, whenever I looked down at my Garmin, I saw this "approaching turn" message that I had never seen before. Somehow, without fail, my Garmin knows when I am racing and decides to act up in ways that it never does when I am training. I have been wearing this Garmin for two years and I have never seen the "approaching turn" message. It was annoying because I couldn't see any data under it, so I just stopped looking at the Garmin.
Mile 2 - 7:27
We got the ice cold sponges at the beginning of this mile and I loved it. That's my favorite part about the race! I put mine on the back of my neck, my forehead and my wrist and finally I tossed it aside. I had also carried a small bottle of water for the first mile which I ditched in order to get a cold sponge. It was so nice to be turning around so early in the race. During this mile, I was really thankful that it was a 5K. It was just so hot with no shade and the sun beating down on me.
Mile 3 - 7:22
The idea that I was only running half of what I expected really fueled me to keep pushing. I remembered how many times I had struggled through the last mile of this 10K and told myself that I only had two miles behind me, not five, so I should be able to be strong. I told myself I could still meet my goal if I kept the pace under 8:00. I was fairly certain that it would be a huge struggle, but my pace really surprised me. In nearly every past LHH, my last mile was always the slowest. This time, it was different! It started out on the slower side, but once I realized that I was less than half a mile to the finish line, I really picked up the pace and just flew down that final hill, passing quite a few people.
Last 0.1: - 5:59 pace
Okay, I don't really believe that this was my pace. That last 0.1 is under a bridge so I am pretty sure my Garmin was affected by that. I also recall the first 0.1 reading in the 9:00's, so this was compensating for that. And based on my finish time and average pace, my first mile had to have been closer to 7:15. Anyway, I did have a very strong sprint to the finish line and I was super excited to see that the clock was under 23 minutes!
Finish time: 22:43, with an average pace of 7:19.
I placed 18 out of 391 women ages 30-34 (top 4.6 percent)
I placed 111 out of 1633 total women (top 6.8 percent)
After recovering from that final kick, I met up with Chad who had run exactly two minutes faster-- a 20:43. Congrats, Chad!
I am very, very happy with my race performance. I set a new "hot weather" 5K PR by 38 seconds, I met my stretch goal of sub-23, and I didn't bonk. This might be the first LHH where my last mile was strong. I contribute my success to:
- Drinking plenty of water on Thursday and Friday
- Being more acclimated to the heat because summer came really early this year
- Having the confidence from the half marathon that hot races don't have to be disastrous, if you have the appropriate expectations
- Knowing what 5K pace "feels" like when uncertain what pace to target
- Just getting faster overall :-)
The day ended on a down note when I got pulled over for using my cell phone while driving on M. Street. Greg had just called and of course I wanted to tell him about the race, and since they are legal in Virginia, I hadn't even thought about it. Apparently all I have to do to get the fee waived is go buy a hands-free device and send the receipt to the DMV. There are no instructions anywhere online as to how I need to do this, so if anyone has experience, please let me know. I'll probably just end up calling them and being put on hold for 3 hours.
But screw the ticket- I had a good race in spite of the weather!!!!!