A few weeks ago, I was asked by a friend/coaching client to run the Manassas Runway 5K with her and hopefully pace her to a new PR. I have been really loving my “downtime” from marathon training, because it gives me more opportunities to run with others and help them with their goals. Kevin had the kids that morning so I decided to take advantage and have some fun with my friends in my local Moms Run This Town group.
This race is unique because it takes place entirely on the runway of a small local airport. This means it’s super fast, flat and a great PR-maker! It was perfect conditions that morning as well – nice and cool and not humid at all. I was cold in my tank top and shorts at first, but luckily we were able to wait inside the warm airport. I knew it would feel amazing once we started running.
Shortly before the start the girls and I went out to do a little warm-up run. We ran a little less than a mile before we headed over to the start. I gave Dina (my friend who I was running with) a little pep talk about how hard she’s worked and how strong she is, and then we were off!
Dina’s goal was to come in under 25 minutes, or an 8 minute pace, to get her a new PR. She’s been working hard on her speed and has gotten huge PRs in the half marathon distance lately, but as we all know, the 5K distance is a whole other kind of beast. It’s short, fast, and it hurts! Unfortunately, our bodies had cooled down a bit after our warm-up because we had to wait longer than expected to start. I wanted to make sure we didn’t go out too fast because of that, and also because Dina has been working on her fast finishes. Starting slower and finishing faster is the key to success. Why did it take me so long to learn that? LOL.
We settled into around an 8:00 pace, which felt like a slightly uncomfortable tempo run for her at first. It was amazing to be running on flat ground since we’re so used to running hills around where we live. I noticed her tensing up in her upper body and looking at her watch a lot, so I tried to tell her to relax and not stress about pace. When I ran the Myrtle Beach Marathon, one of the best parts for me was running with a pace group. It took all the work out of thinking about maintaining a certain pace, and helped me save so much energy. Pacing someone to help them meet a big goal is a stressful job and I take it very seriously. I told her to trust me and she did 🙂
- Mile 1 – 7:59
We came in right on target for mile 1, which I was super happy about and so was she. We ran along, passing people who started too fast which was a confidence booster. We even passed her teenage son, which was awesome. I don’t like to talk much during the shorter, faster races but I noticed her breathing was sounding a little shallow. She has asthma and tends to be a chest breather. We’ve been working on getting her air from deeper in her belly and taking fuller breaths. I reminded her of this and it seemed to help her get her breathing under better control.
- Mile 2 – 7:58
We hit mile 2 right on target as well, coming in just under an 8 minute mile. Yeah! Dina was doing an awesome job and looking strong. At this point, I was really happy with my choice of clothing because it was getting warm and the sun was out. However, during the third mile, Dina slowed down some and told me she was getting a side stitch. I felt terrible for her because I know how hard it is to push through those, especially at the end of a race that already hurts like a 5K. Even despite the side stitch, she maintained a good pace and didn’t lose much off her overall time.
- Mile 3 – 8:05
After we passed mile 3 we rounded a corner and it was a straight shot to the finish line. I told Dina that this is what she’s been practicing in her long runs and some easy runs… her strong and fast finishes! She amazed me by picking up the pace and sprinting ahead of me all the way to the finish line. I was so proud of her!
- Final .1 – 6:51 pace!
- Finish Time – 24:48 / 8:00 average pace
She came in exactly where she wanted, just under 25 minutes with an average pace of 8:00 per mile. After we crossed we got some water and reunited with our friends, and waited for some others to cross afterwards. Once they posted results we realized that many of our group members won age group awards (and one even won first overall for Women’s Masters!). I was happy and surprised to see that I also won first in my age group. This was one of my goals before turning 30- place in my age group before I enter a new one in a few months- so I was excited.
We waited around a while for the awards ceremony. There were some timing issues so it was delayed a bit. Luckily by now the weather was beautiful. Nice and sunny and warm. I loved being out in the sunshine.
After a tough couple of months, it felt really good to be out with some of the women who have been supporting me, and helping a great friend of mine reach her goal. It also made me want to run my own 5K soon! Off to do some research 🙂