Unexpected, this, to place in my age group after a year of basically running longer-longer-longer and pretending that things like speedwork and track time didn’t exist. Of course, it helps when the race gives medals ten places deep in each age group, which is practically unheard of, but still. After no speed training for more than a year, and minimal running for the past six weeks on a bruised knee and with a bum shoulder, I logically should have been midpack at best. Guess the legs remembered a little of what they used to do.
Not much to talk about with a 5K; it’s over too fast for a lengthy report. The sun shone, it was chilly but not cold, and everybody was…5K-ish. I told a friend who was there that I think I prefer the low-key “non-energy” before an ultra; no point warming up or doing striders and skipping if you’re going to be running all day. The corral was crowded, full of folks who were Super Serious and those who looked like first-timers. Nobody seemed to have any inclination toward lining up according to how fast you expect to run; I saw plenty of folks near the front who were obviously not interested in trying to hold the pace the people near them were going to be doing. (Quickly scootched out from behind the pack of girls I initially took to be fast, but who began making giggly plans to run holding hands and jumping together. Yeah.)
Within thirty seconds of starting to run, I took an elbow to my sore shoulder from the very tall man running beside me. Ow.
But once I got out of the traditional 5K mosh pit, it was pretty much smooth sailing until the end. Honestly, I could have pushed harder, but, well, I’ve spend a long time now learning to push my endurance and not really having to visit the particular Pain Cave involved with running fast. That’s a different sort of willpower, and I’m out of practice.
Finished in 25:38, which is nowhere near my PR, but which is pretty good compared to what I’ve been running lately. It was even good enough, as I said, for tenth place in my age group. What it mostly is, though, is a benchmark. That Pain Cave I mentioned a paragraph ago? I’m going to be going there in 2012. This will be the year I regain my speed (relative though it is), with plenty of shorter races and such to test myself. I hope to round out the year with a very nice half-marathon. It’s not a “vacation year”; it’s a year of changing the focus. Long is good, but you can be lazy while going long. Sometimes, I hope, it pays to rev the motor a bit, even if you’re more of a long-range trucker than a sports car.
So. Here’s to the end of 2011, which had plenty of ups and downs for my running. Lots of injuries, but lots of milestones, too. I gave up my toenails, and I gained insight into gratitude for the miles. I got to learn about pool running when I was hurt, but I also learned to love swimming as a cross-training tool. I ran 5Ks and ultras, and they both taught me things I needed to know.
Tomorrow? I’m going for a run with my running club. Hope you’ll be out there, too.