I came into this race with mixed expectations. Sometimes I would think that I was capable of rocking a 16:59 PR. Other times I figured I would be happy just to beat last year's disappointing result (17:35). What I didn't do was taper. Somehow, after the previous Sunday's indoor mile race, I did workouts on Tuesday (3 x mile @ 5K pace indoors), Wednesday (trail 10K tempo), and Thursday (4 x outdoor mile @ T pace). My legs didn't feel bad on race day, but certainly this wasn't optimal. This wasn't even my plan for the week, but I got carried away. The other issue was that I was extremely anxious the night before and morning of the race. This was beyond pre-race jitters, and dipping close to anxiety attack zone. I'm not sure what was the trigger, but it was not fun.
I got my act together and drove over to Narragansett. I was hoping seeing my teammates and running would be the distraction I needed. This proved to be the case. I was ready to turn this anxiety into an awesome race performance. So many familiar faces at registration. I made sure to get out early enough for a warm up so that I had some time before the race. I've felt rushed the last two races coming back late from warming up. If it meant I needed to go solo, then so be it. Luckily, Justin and Mike were able to join me. I wanted to run nearby trails, but Mike convinced us otherwise. I'm sure it was a Daniels thing. We ran the course to check out the conditions. Yup, I still hate it. It is picturesque, but the hill at the end of mile 1 is tough in a 5K, I hate cone turnarounds, and it is always going to be windy along the water. Okay, I just don't like roads too. Anyway, it was going to be a headwind on the way out, tailwind on the way back. Mike kept hammering home the idea of staying on pace through the turnaround. It was downhill or flat the rest of the way with a tailwind. Got it.
I had a little over 10 minutes to spare for the start. I fiddled with my wardrobe options: shorts and windbriefs or just shorts?; no hat, winter hat, or brimmed hat?; gloves or no gloves? It was hard to pick since it was sunny and warm (mid 40's). After figuring that out, I went back outside and did some strides. We were told to line up and I parked myself behind Mike and next to many of my teammates. After a longish wait, the gun went off.
The start. Photo by Jana Walker
What I do love about this race, besides the team competition, is that there is more competition for my level of running than in most local races. I knew to not go out too fast and not be up front. I kept my pace under control, and without looking at my watch, I knew I was in a good spot based on who was around me.
I see me. Do you see me? Photo by Jana Walker
Now I had the wind at my back. I could see many more WTAC jerseys heading in the opposite direction and many people called out my name. I couldn't talk, I would just give a thumbs up. Dan was still right with me and I was now nervous that my teammate Nate was getting closer. At the mile 2 marker (watch check - 11:27 - 5:52 2nd mile - really?) Dan surged ahead of me. We were descending the hill. I didn't let him get away. I knew I could at least have a strong finish. We then reached the long straightaway along the seawall. I was working hard a second or two behind Dan with Justin another 10 seconds or so ahead of him. I checked the distance on my watch, wondering when I should try to make a move. There was about 1/3 of a mile left. I threw down a sprint and passed by Dan. I think he made a groan that let me know he was probably done. I was still scared, since he ran a 4:37 mile the weekend before, and what about Nate?
Last strides to the finish. Dan behind me. Photo by Jana Walker
I was able to put on a final sprint rounding the last turn to the line. 17:29 finish time (5:28 mile 3, 4:50's pace final .1). My effort seemed like it should have been 20 seconds faster. I'm hoping it was the hard week of training that was the cause, and not that 17:29 is the shape I'm currently in.
It was fun chatting with everyone about their races and doing a large group cooldown. It was then time to head back inside for food and awards.
Men's and Women's team winners! Photo by Jana Walker