Well, I sure wasn’t expecting the result I got yesterday at the Stafford Runway Runaway 5K. I signed up for this race a few months ago, thinking it would be 5 weeks after the Myrtle Beach Marathon so I might be recovered enough to really race it. This course is pancake flat and takes place on the runway of the Stafford Airport, so I was originally going to go for a PR. But then everything happened at Myrtle Beach and I decided to try another marathon a few weeks later. After that I changed my mindset toward this race from PRing to just having fun, because I didn’t think I’d be able to do much “racing” only 2 weeks after a marathon. I told myself I’d run at a comfortably hard pace and just see how I felt.
We got to the race around 7:20 and found my friend Amanda, who was running it too. It was pretty cold that morning so after picking up our timing chips we headed inside the small airport building to keep warm before the 8 a.m. start.
This was the first year for this race and it had a surprisingly good turnout! There were about 400 runners there ready to race on the runway. Shortly before 8:00 Amanda and I left the warmth and went to the start line. We weren’t planning to run together because she was using this race to get a 5K baseline time, and I was just curious to see what I could do. We wished each other good luck and then we were off!
The course started off with us going around a few bends, then a long out and back segment, followed by a shorter out and back segment to the finish line.
I was feeling great right away, and running a sub-7 minute pace almost effortlessly. I knew that I would never be able to maintain that pace though. I think I have positive splitted every single 5K I’ve ever run because I ALWAYS go out too fast. This time I didn’t want to do that, so I made myself slow down a bit once I got onto the long out and back segment. It wasn’t hard to do this because we were running into a pretty strong wind.
- Mile 1 – 7:23
When I saw my first mile split I thought about what I should do next. I knew that my 5K PR was 22:29, which was a 7:14 pace. I wasn’t sure if I could run the next two miles fast enough to get my pace down to where it needed to be to PR. I did a quick check to see how my body was feeling, and decided to go for it since I was feeling really strong. I hit the first turn-around point at around mile 1.5 and started running with the wind at my back, which felt so much better. I picked up the pace and was ready to RACE.
It felt awesome to be running on an empty runway. I didn’t know how I’d feel about the course because there’s not much to see and it’s super flat, but I ended up really enjoying it. About halfway down the runway I saw Amanda which gave me a little extra boost of energy. I also hit mile 2, and realized that in order to PR I’d have to run the last 1.1 miles at a 7:14 pace or faster. I was feeling the fast miles in my not-quite-recovered-yet legs and I wasn’t sure if I could.
- Mile 2 – 7:06
At the 2.5 mile mark we rounded the big bend to do the smaller out and back portion. I ran past Kevin and the baby who were cheering for me like always. He looked surprised when he noticed what time was on the clock and how fast I was running.
Even though this out-and-back portion was shorter it felt really long, and we were back to running into the wind. I thought I would never get to the turn around point! I tried to hang onto my pace and watched the time on my Garmin tick by. I knew it was going to be really close. I finally did the final turn around and headed toward the finish line. When I hit mile 3 I knew I had it.
- Mile 3 – 7:03
I used up every last ounce of energy in my body to sprint the final .1 miles, and crossed the finish line with a HUGE smile on my face when I saw the clock.
- The last .1 – 0:35 (6:39 pace)
Kevin ran up to me screaming and asking, “How did you do that?!” I was in disbelief and said I honestly don’t know. I was as surprised as he was!
- Finish time – 22:07. 7:07 average pace. A new PR by 22 seconds!
After I finished we went over to the finish line to wait for Amanda.
She came through a couple minutes later, finishing in 28:13- only 5 seconds from her PR. I thought that was awesome because she hasn’t raced since we did the OBX Marathon and it’s been a long, tough winter for running!
When results were posted I found out I had won first in my age group and was SUPER excited! After we got some water and bananas, we went back inside to rest for a bit and wait for awards.
We hung out for a little bit then went back outside for awards and to meet two women from a local Moms Run This Town running club that I had been talking to on Facebook. They were super nice and our conversation got me excited to do some group runs with them in the future
For getting first place in the Women’s 20-29 age group I won a gift certificate to our local running store- which is awesome because I need to get some new things for the spring training season!
I was so happy after this race. Clearly, I race VERY well when I put no pressure on myself! This has definitely been a trend recently. In races where I don’t wear a watch or go in with no real expectations, I have either PRed or had an amazing race experience (Exhibits A, B, and C– and those are just examples from the last 5 months!) For maybe the first time ever, I actually raced a 5K in a smart way and had negative splits. I felt strong the entire time, both physically and mentally. I can’t believe I ran a marathon PR AND a 5K PR within 2 weeks! Who am I?
If that is what I can do on tired, marathon-recovering legs, I wonder what I can do with some more training!!! I saw this quote the other day and I really do think it’s true- not just for running but everything in life. I am learning this more and more each day.
Another PR is in the books 🙂