I ran my first 5K of 2016 at the Wando Heart & Soles 5K in February. Last year I PR'd on this course and - spoiler alert - last year's time is still my current 5K PR (womp, womp). I can't say that I was particularly motivated on race day this year (unlike last year), as has been my usual MO lately.
One of my favorite things about this race is that it's only a few minutes from my house, which means I don't have to rush around too much. But I think I poked around a little too long this year and we ended up getting to the race with only a few minutes to spare before the start. Oops.
Once I got lined up at the start, the horn went off and we started running. Except it was a false start and they were just testing the horn. Soooo we all had to get back in line for the real race start. After the real start, I took off and immediately my legs felt heavy. My legs haven't felt rested and fresh for months now. So I just ran at a kind of hard pace, but definitely not an all-out race pace. As usual. No racing mojo right now.
The course is an out and back course and somehow in the short timeframe of the 5K, the wind managed to change directions and there was a headwind in both directions. Wonderful.
Most of this race was pretty uneventful for me since I was just locked into my pace and held it for the duration of the race. I did have some energy left in the tank to sprint the last .1 miles at a 5:45ish pace. Where was this energy for the rest of the race? Sigh. I need to get it together.
I came in at 23:57, a rather meh time for me, but good enough for 1st place in my age group and a top 50 finish, so I got a chocolate coin and a pint glass (and I also got a nice Under Armour sweatshirt as race swag, which all runners got). I've said it before, but it's still true: age group wins only make me happy when I feel like I've earned them by racing hard and PRing. I did neither of those things at this race, so it was just luck that I won. If I don't PR, I really don't care about age group wins. I was not even tired or sweating at the end of this race and that is not how I should feel at the end of a 5K.
In addition to not having any race motivation, my 5K racing strategy (if you can even call it that at this point) has been really, really off for the past, oh...year. My prior 5K strategy was to go out hard and hold on as long as I could, which usually meant the first mile was the fastest, the second mile was the slowest because I was certain death was imminent, the third mile was a bit closer in pace to the first mile since I knew the end was in sight, and I had a kick at the end. This strategy was not broken, but apparently I felt the need to fix it.
So now I've been trying to go out a bit easier and pick up speed along the way for negative splits, and what ends up happening is I just lock into that easier pace and just don't pick up speed at all. It's as if in my head, no matter how fast or slow that first mile is, that sets the stage for my overall race pace. And now my 5K racing strategy is broken.
Once I find my motivation again, I plan to go back to the way I raced 5Ks before. There's so little room for error in 5K races and there's not time to make up lost time, so going out hard and holding on is where it's at for me. The good news is, this broken strategy has me running mostly at the same speeds, if not slightly faster in general than my go hard, hold on strategy before (with the exception of last year's PR), so once I get a grip on how to actually race a 5K again (and get rid some of my stress), I think PRs will come. At least, I hope they will.
For now, I'm laying low on the racing scene and trying to get my running wits about me again. And I'm trying to get rid of some of the cumulative fatigue I've been feeling in my legs, so when I hit the start line of a goal race, I'm actually ready to race.