Back in the Fall I saw that She.Is.Beautiful was opening registration for their Santa Cruz 5k/10k for a very low fee. I had never run the race but had heard of it. It’s along the ocean, based around women empowering women, and I didn’t have any races scheduled for March 23rd, and so when my best running friend said she was gonna sign up, I knew that meant I had to too!
Some logistics about the race that I flushed out were that I knew I would have to rent a hotel room since the race was two hours from me, and so my gal pals and I rented a room and the shenanigans began from there…
So what was my race plan? Approximately four weeks before the race Coach Patrick texted me and told me he wanted me to consider running the 10k for time to see where I was at as a baseline for Eugene Marathon, half, which is five weeks after the 10k. I of course agreed and then went into a world of panic because I had no idea how to handle that.
After I had one of my many meltdowns to Coach Patrick I confessed I had no idea how to even pace myself at the 10k. I’ve been running nothing but halfs and marathons for the last year that I had literally no idea what to even aim for on race day for a 10k goal. After all, that is 20 miles less than a marathon! Coach Patrick told me to go out on a day I felt like it and warm up and then run a mile for time and he would give me a target race pace based on that. So about two weeks before the race on a Thursday afternoon I did just that. I came out with an 11:18 mile. He told me to aim for a 13:00 min/mile pace for the race. That time seemed too fast for me. My long runs have not been that fast, though my long runs are often much, much longer than 6.2 miles. But I kept 13:00 min/mile in my head every day and debated how to tackle the race regularly. Daily I thought about it. And daily I freaked out inside. And daily I never made any plan except to show up and give it my all.
Friday, March 22
I wasn’t going to take a full day off of work the day before, Friday, but the previous week I had had a boatload of meetings and my brain was still like jello, so I was grateful when I sheepishly asked my coworkers and boss it was okay if I took 8 hours off instead of 6 and they said yes of course. That gave me some head space to prepare for the race.
I slept in, and woke up and did my two mile shakeout run. It was raining but I was glad it was raining the day before the race and not race day!
Then I drove down to meet my friend Melissa halfway to Santa Cruz so we could carpool to the race! We made it to Santa Cruz and met our other friend at the hotel. We laid out our clothes and planned race logistics for the next day.
Then we headed out to dinner for sushi goodness!
And after dinner and shenanigans, we played a bunch of games of jenga til our eyes were crossed and got ready for bed. Luckily race day didn’t have to start too early. We didn’t have to wake up until 6! For reference, when I do CIM I wake up at 3:50! It was awesome knowing I could sleep in!
Saturday, March 23
Alarm went off at 6, and we all got ready, ate our pre race meals and headed out to the parking lot to take the shuttles!
The pre race event was fun and filled with a women empowering women rally. The event was huge. There were people everywhere. Finally, at 8:35 we started. That’s a late start for a race for me so it was already warm but I felt okay. I was going to run with NO run walk alerts on my Garmin and go by feel. I was glad I made that choice. Coach Patrick texted me before the race (which I so needed and appreciated because I was a little bit anxious), and told me to maintain my pace early in the race and then let loose in the last mile.
I had this reminder on my arm:
Meaning leave nothing out there. Finish the race knowing you gave it your all.
Mile one: I weaved through a lot of people. (Friendly reminder, if you’re walking a race, please start at the back of the pack so as to open up space for runners. It’s hard to weave in and out of large groups of runners). I felt really good. Like, REALLY good. So when my watch read mile split: 12:05 I went into a full fledged panic. I was one mile in and already one minute faster than my target pace. I knew I needed to dial it back so I didn’t burn out fast. I had 5.2 miles to go after all.
Mile two: okay. I was done weaving in and out of people and told myself to pull it back. I felt good. I felt solid. I heard my watch beep… mile split: 12:16. Um ok I guess I pulled it back a little but not what I had in mind. I told myself, pull it back, you’re going for 13:00 average. DO NOT burn out.
Mile 3: I reminded myself DO NOT GO OUT TOO HARD. Pull it BACK. My watch beeped. Mile split: 12:43, and while I was glad I finally pulled myself back a little so I didn’t burn out, I began to think, “maybe there’s something in me that’s got more than a 13:00. I need to trust my body.”
Mile 4: Part way into mile 4 I know I lost time because I told myself at the 5k marker to take my gu in. I don’t normally use gu, but I like that gu hits me faster than chews and with it being a short distance, I needed that instant available fuel. Then my watch beeped, mile split: 13:06. I was glad I banked some time early to have available during this mile where I lost some time.
Mile 5: There were some climbs in this mile and I allowed myself to save energy during those to save for the last mile. Mile split: 13:06. Isn’t it weird my mile splits for 4&5 were the same??
Mile 6: with one mile left I knew I needed to let it go and release all energy I had in my tank. At the final half mile there was a Hoka One One Arch and a sign saying you were a half mile from the finish. I kicked it into gear and then as I drew close to the finish and saw it, I released EVERYTHING I had left. Absolutely everything. I was panting. My chest was burning. My legs were turning over at an unbelievable speed. One thought popped into my head, “she believed she could so she did”, and I raised my arm for the reminder “Empty the tank”. There was no reason to play it safe now. I recalled a few years ago at a 5k I raced and I was going hard and suddenly stopped just moments from the finish and walked. I couldn’t let myself get uncomfortable. I couldn’t go there. This wasn’t going to be that. So I ran harder. I leaned in more, I trusted my body more. I pushed.
My watch said mile 6 split: mile split: 12:05 and then suddenly I was under the race arch and I was done.
When I crossed the finish line I stopped my Garmin. I honestly thought I might barf. I raised my hands over my head, tried to breathe and then when I could finally stop to see how I did, I was pleasantly surprised.
Race finish: 1:16:28. 12:30 pace. 4 minutes under goal.
Racing a short distance is so different than anything I have experienced with half or marathons. Half and marathons for me are about pacing yourself and endurance. 5k and 10ks are quite the opposite. It’s short. I push. I get uncomfortable. I breathe hard. I let the sweat drip because I’m going all out. It is a different place to go to mentally, and one today I realized I am not 100% in tune with, but an area of myself I would like to explore more.
Today was not a PR. In fact it’s far from my 10k PR of 1:06. However, today was really important for me. I’ve failed so many times at multiple attempts of things. But all those failures filled my tool belt to be successful now.
This race was a huge win for me. I celebrated with frozen yogurt and an Epsom salt bath. I’m very excited for what will be in store at Eugene Marathon in just 5 weeks now. I got this.
Cheers to winning!