In the interim period between my extreme mile racing high on July 25 and last Sunday, my enthusiasm waned. I always knew that the race fell at the end of my first week of marathon training, but I didn't really think of the implications of this initially. When I realized that I would have to cut my long run short, I was hesitant, but decided I should still commit to the race.
I then proceeded to do a number of things the week before the race that might not be considered ideal for a PR performance. Normally I prefer to take the day off before a race or head to the pool for some pool running. I ran 10 miles on Saturday instead because I didn't want to skip my long run the first week of marathon training. And while it wasn't the normal progression long run, it also wasn't done at a super easy pace. For some reason I never considered doing my long run after the mile. Sunday is typically a non-running, cross training day for me, and usually it is a swim day. Somehow I failed to really consider the implications of the race being on Sunday and it became my sixth day of running for the week. While many people run six or seven days without a problem, I am consistently a five day a week runner. And, not only was it an abnormal sixth day of running, it was also my fourth hard workout of the week since I had already completed a track workout, tempo, and long run. Perfect planning on my part, right?
I felt pretty good when I got to the track on Sunday morning and did a nice easy two miles around the neighborhood with Jess and Cris. We then stood around chatting for a bit with other CAR teammates and watched the conclusion of the 3k race walk. I then attempted to do a bit of stretching, some drills, and a little more jogging around the track, with one stride thrown in for good measure. Probably could stand to improve the warm up routine.
There were enough people to split the race into a couple of heats, with the divisions coming at 5:30 and 6:30. We watched our CAR teammates run well in the first (fast) heat and then Jess and I lined up to go. My main goal for this race was to start slower than the previous race. In that case I was just under 3:00 at halfway and ran the second half in 3:14-15. I was hoping that a slightly slower start would allow me to have that kick in the last lap that I most definitely lacked the first time around. I had 1:35 in mind for the first 400 and then something around that for the second 400 as well.
I felt okay, not great, in the first 400, and was happy to see 1:33 on the clock at 400. About five seconds slower than the first race and right where I wanted to be. I already felt a little tired, but told myself that all I needed to do for the second lap was maintain the pace. I had been running right behind Jess and I believe it was sometime in the second lap that I went past her. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I think I was at 800 at around 5:07 or 5:08. Still right on target.
However, when I tried to pick up the pace heading down the first straightaway of lap three I just felt really flat. That extra energy that I hoped I would have wasn't there in the tank. George yelled at me to pick it up for the last 600 when I went past him and also to fix my horrific form. (I know how it felt, I can only imagine how bad it looked). I have no real idea what my time was at 1200, but I'm guessing it was somewhere in the low 5:40s because I remember thinking that I could still PR if I ran a really good last lap. I made another attempt to speed up, but my legs just weren't having it. It was somewhere around here that Jess went back past me. I tried to use her as motivation to pick up the pace, but only managed to stay with her for 50 meters or so. I then just tried to keep pushing and finish the race. This included another pass by George and him yelling at me to "run tall" and "stand up". You can see why:
I could see the clock for the last 20 meters or so and new it wasn't going to be a PR day, but I did my best to get to the finish line as quickly as possible. My time guess based on what I saw was 6:25 and my official time ended up being 6:24.96.
I was definitely frustrated with the time initially, but by Sunday afternoon I realized this was stupid. I can hardly expect to PR in every race and give all the things I did "wrong" the week before the race, adding 10 seconds is not much time at all. Plus, I succeeded in my main goal for the day, which was to start at a more moderate pace. Sure, I didn't have the kick that I had hoped for at the end, but I still executed the race strategy that I wanted. I'll figure out how to put it all together eventually.
And now I will I put aside my mile PR dreams until sometime next summer. There's another PVTC meet Labor Day weekend, but I prefer to fully switch my focus to the marathon and get in a good long run instead.