There are two distinct tactics to running a 5k. One is "just for fun" and the other is "running so fast that every fiber of your being is in pain at every moment". Most people chose to say they are doing number one and then end up running at some pace in between, just to run faster than they expected and to avoid pressure.
5 years ago, SR and I ran this YMCA's Heart Throb 5k together. It was the first race we had run together. I was still married, but was nonetheless in the predicament of being in love with this guy: SR, who won every single La Crosse YMCA 5k. It seemed so odd to me for a 30 something guy to get into running so much. Did he think he was still in high school or what? No, he was just Danish - or - just himself. And I was fascinated.
As today, the weather that day was in the single digits F. To be exact, it was 9 F (-14C) today with 18 mph wind from the northwest.
5 years ago, I had never attempted to run a 5k fast, but I figured I had better try to impress SR. So, I went out somewhat hard, though pretended I was just in it for fun (and actually, I was). I ran it in just over 23 minutes. I was really happy. That day it was good enough for second female overall.
Today, I ran the first mile in 5:52. I felt good. I was 5th woman at the time and about 13th overall. I thought I might have a shot at under 19 minutes. Between mile 1 and 2 my pace slowed a bit, but I passed 2 women and 2 men and was still on pace for a PR. And then the headwind struck and I felt absolutely terrible. I could not get my pace under 7 minutes per mile. I could not feel my legs. My entire body was experiencing an icecream headache. I wanted to just stop, but it was too cold to just walk after all. IT WAS TERRIBLE. I lurched across the finish line, just ahead of a 15 year old girl (the daughter of a physician I used to work with) in 20:27. I dry heaved for a while, felt so nauseated that I had to hobble to the bathroom to vomit.
SR won in 17:04. The wild part is 3rd for the women was good enough for 11th overall (193 total runners, 118 of them women, 75 men). It is interesting how in the US women seem to be nearly as fast as men. Is it just not cool for men to be in good shape here? SR explained on the way home- women here are stay at home moms and think running makes them beautiful. Men just don't really get into it. The truth is, I'm quite sure the young women who finished ahead of me weren't moms.
So what has changed in 5 years? Well, our location on earth is the same. I've taught myself to embrace suffering, I guess. But more importantly, I got the man of my dreams (somehow) and there are two new little boys in the world - who maybe one day will make the world a better place. Somehow a 2-3 minute improvement in 5k running time seems to be of very little consequence.
Tomorrow: half marathon in Rochester, MN. In the meantime, skiing with SR and The Lorax!