I love the set up of the course, the fact that they run the men's and women's races separately, and the fact that a mile is over quickly, so signing up for a third consecutive year a few months ago was a given. However, as race day approached, I seriously considered bailing. I've been doing a reasonable amount of volume in preparation for my upcoming 70.3, but have really been struggling with tempo runs and speed work. Basically, I have just felt tired, on the verge of overtraining, and slow... none of which bode well for running a fast mile. But a number of my friends/teammates were running, there was promise of beer afterward, and the consensus on my facebook poll was that I should run anyway, so off to Raleigh I went.
My strategy for the race was to try to keep Caren and Ellen in sight. Chasing Caren worked out pretty well for me last year, and despite starting off a bit too slowly I was able to run a PR of 5:52. My goals for the day were (1) sub-6, (2) PR, (3) sub 5:50. To meet my top goal, I knew I would have to run each quarter in about 87 seconds, which would put me at 5:48. Last year I started too slowly in fear of going out too fast, so this time I was sure to push myself right from the start, and I came through the first quarter in 84 seconds. The second and third quarters include the turns around the Capitol, and ticked off in 88 and 91 respectively. Somewhere in that third quarter Ellen passed me and I should have tried to go with her, but I worried about dying on that last stretch to the finish. I also lost focus a bit when it started to feel pretty tough. I guess those are both just mental things that I'll have to work on, and hopefully not fade so much in that stretch next year. As we made the turn toward the finish, I finally talked myself into speeding up again and finished up with an 85. Definitely not the consistent 87's I was shooting for, but I finished in 5:48, so I guess it's all the same in the end! Despite a huge amount of self-doubt before the race and a bit of a lapse in the middle, I managed to run my goal time and was fairly pleased with the race. My goal for next year will be to maintain focus the entire time and not feel like I saved too much for the finish, but for now, it's a PR and I'll take it. To really put the icing on the cake, my friends all had great races, many ran PRs, Allie set a new state record for masters, the Bull City Track Club women won the team title, and we all wrapped up the afternoon with celebratory drinks at the Flying Saucer. All in all, a really good day, and I am definitely glad my friends did not let me talk myself out of even trying!