Less mileage this week as we head into a somewhat intense race season. This Saturday was the Anthem 5k, which kicks off a three-race series in Louisville, each distance two weeks apart and increasing in length.

1C040AF5-BF67-4FBD-BE27-69D41DEFF596Monday was an easy 6, early and easy in the dark. Coach had scheduled 6-8 but I didn’t have time for anything more even though I felt fine. We had our monthly board meeting that night, so I did get in a 1.5-mile walk during a break in the meeting.

Tuesday was a speed day, mixed intervals and steady-state. So after the warmup, I had 90 seconds hard with equal rest, then 75 seconds, 60 seconds, 45 seconds, 30 seconds, 15 seconds (each with equal rest). Then an easy 5 minutes or so before 3 miles at half-marathon pace or 85% max HR. Everything was going great until about 1.25 miles in to the HMP when I had to make an emergency run into Walgreens to hit the bathroom. As they say, “Sh*t happens.” After that, the rest of the run was fine.

Wednesdays are usually terrible recovery days where I feel like Tin Man, but this one wasn’t too bad, at least running-wise. It was a long day at work, and being able to get to the gym was a big lift to an exhausting day. For a recovery day, I had a good pace — about 8:04 — considering the low average heart rate (132). I ran on the treadmill because it was gross outside and because I wanted to catch up on Just Jillian. After that I taught Pilates — it was a good class and I feel like I’m getting better every time I teach.

It was more of the same at work Thursday, but moving out of crisis mode and into recovery mode. And I was back on the treadmill because I thought it was going to be snowing/raining in the afternoon and I didn’t pack warm enough stuff for outside. Unfortunately, I’m not sure where my headphones are. So it was 7 miles on the treadmill with no music or television sound. Good times. I had some striders in there, which is tricky on the treadmill, and then also added some longer gradual pickups — things like increasing from easy pace to 6:30 pace, just hitting the speed increase button every couple of hundredths. (Like at 6.24 miles I’m at 7.2 pace, 6.26 7.3, 6.28 7.4, and so on.) I taught again Thursday night, Pilates Strength, which is a fun class that goes by really quickly. It was a small class but we had fun.

Seeded bib!

Friday I worked offsite in the morning and took a personal day in the afternoon. Sweet, sweet quiet. I picked up my packet for Saturday’s race and then ran with my friend Eileen. I also had a massage, which isn’t ideal on the day before a race but you work with what you’ve got.

Race Recap: Anthem 5k

At one point, Anthem was my least favorite of the Triple Crown series. You can run a 5k pretty much any weekend March to October around here, but not many other distances. But … as a seeded runner, I take that back. Now it’s one of my favorites because it’s the only race in the city where you’ll have so many people going that fast who can help tow you along to a great time. The current course is super fast with minimal turns. The long straightaway back to the finish is a little discouraging since you can see the finish for so long, but that’s also nice in a way. You can count the blocks down on your way back in, so there’s no surprise where the finish is.

I got up at 6 a.m. on race morning. I had thrown some clothing options in a pile … I needed a race outfit, warmup/cool down clothes, clothes to teach Pilates in … so many clothes. And, I was undecided on footwear, so I left with trainers (Boracay), lightweight trainers (Pace) and racing flats (1600).

Brand-new shorts

I foam rolled and started eating a Hammer Bar (chocolate chip, the best!) and hydrating. I eventually settled on an outfit that included wearing brand-new shorts, but threw some other shorts in my bag just in case I determined that to be a bad idea after the warm up or even after the race. I left my house around 6:45 a.m. for an 8 a.m. race. With no plans to meet anyone beforehand, it was pretty stress-free. I headed to the same parking spot I’ve used for a couple of years now, about .67 of a mile from the start and near a coffee shop. (Look, that’s all I’m saying because I don’t want anyone else to steal my idea.) It’s a little farther away than most of the recreational folks want to be, but I was planning a 3 mile warm up and up to 6 miles of cool down, so it was fine by me.

For once I had my iPod Shuffle with me and loaded with decent music, so I threw my headphones in for the warm up. In addition to a great parking space, I also discovered a conveniently-located construction port-o-john along my path. No lines. I jogged past the start area, around the finish area, and got back to my car around mile 2. I foam rolled, ditched the warm ups, realized I only had one arm warmer, changed shoes. In lieu of the arm warmers, I threw on the long sleeved race shirt to stay warm a little longer. I jogged back to the start feeling pretty good.

My goal for this race was to a) run a well-executed race and b) break 19 minutes. Coach had given me some perceived effort cues to check in on myself at different points, but hadn’t given me anything super-specific in regards to pacing. He agreed shooting for around 19 was on-track. So I wanted to not go out too fast, be relaxed until mile 2 and then hold the pace through the finish. I was targeting around 6:05 pace but focusing more on feel than time. I was also wearing my heart rate monitor but not checking it during the race.

I did my final strides, chatted with tons of friends running, and then we were off.

For the second race in recent history, I didn’t start my watch. I thought I did, but apparently didn’t press the button hard enough. I had on gloves and it was so noisy I couldn’t hear if it beeped. I figured it out quickly, so maybe lost 5 seconds or so. The race starts with a really wide straightaway, at least four lanes for several blocks, so plenty of space to get sorted out. I was trailing two friends, both former collegiate runners, and feeling comfortable. It’s so easy to get sucked in to going out way too fast in races like this where there’s so much talent at the front. This race also attracts a lot of youngsters, who inevitably fly through the first half mile then start to fall apart. I went through the first mile in about 6 minutes flat, a little fast but not bad. My second mile is usually the weakest so I’ve been trying to improve there — staying mentally focused and continuing to push.

I had passed one of my two friends already, and eased on to the shoulder of the other at 1.25. We had a brief exchange in which she told me she wanted to see me get under 19. Sure enough, I went through mile 2 right around 6 minute pace, too. I was a little behind the clock time (4 seconds, as it turns out) but I knew I was still under goal pace and feeling good. I felt loose and in control. From about 1.4 to 2.25 is the windy section of the course, so you have to hit the turns right and not relax as you go through them.

At 2.25 you make that final turn back on to Main Street, which means you’ve got 1200 meters and a “smidge.” to go. I continued to press, finding a good spot in the middle of the road. There’s a tiny tiny hill on this part — the only elevation of the course — but you can see it. But then you get the little bit back down to throw you at the finish. There was one girl ahead of me that I couldn’t get to, but I wasn’t getting passed by many men or women, either. I didn’t see my last split, but it was a 5:54. Even with the first bit I missed, my watch had 3.09 with the last .09 at 5:12 pace, so no complaints there.

I finished in 18:36, a 25-second personal best and good for 9th female overall. (Note: last year I was 10th in 19:01 — it was a very solid field this year and very fast!)

The race was executed exactly how I wanted and yielded better results than I could’ve imagined. I was just hoping for anything under 19 — I wasn’t going to be picky about it! Even coach was a little surprised. He said he would’ve guessed 18:50 but would’ve said 18:40 wasn’t out of the question. Surprise!

Mid-cool down.

I jogged back to my car and switched shoes and threw warm clothes back on, then got in a 6-mile cool down. I ran with some other friends for several miles of it, which helped a lot. Cool downs are so boring.

Then I taught Pilates … then went for a 3-mile walk … then went bowling. Lots of exercise!

Sunday’s run was a nice change of pace, especially since I knew my legs wouldn’t feel good. I headed out to The Parklands and ran 3 solo then met up with two friends who are new moms (with a 5-month-old and 3-month-old), so while they’re both very accomplished runners, they’re just getting back into it. We ran 4 more, including several miles on muddy trails. The weather was absolutely gorgeous — sunny and 60, but windy.

In total, 53.37 miles, plus three Pilates sessions.

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