Friday was my second 6k ever! And it went really well.
(First 6k ever– a year ago)
I woke up early, like always, and laid in bed until it was time to shake out at 7:30 am. It was 35 degrees outside- definitely a change from back home!- but it felt really nice. After the shakeout, we rope stretched and ate breakfast before packing up and heading to the course around 9:45. Pre-race breakfast: plain nonfat Fage, oatmeal with a banana and Justin’s almond butter, and a bit of coffee. I also had half of another banana and lemon-lime Nuun closer to race time.
We got to the course, which is on a picturesque golf course, and we rope stretched, warmed up, and did drills and strides. At this point, the temperatures had reached the mid-40s, which actually felt pretty good!
After a team huddle and stride back, we took off the last of our outer layers and got ready to roll. Honestly, I had a feeling this would be a good day. We had previewed the course multiple times, and while pretty much the entire last mile was uphill, we knew we could do it. After my last race, I had no expectations, and I was feeling a little nervous but also ready to “just run to your fitness level”, as my coach put it.
The gun went off, and I settled in pretty much right away. The plan was to go out relatively conservatively (compared to everyone else) because we knew that it would naturally be fast and we wanted to be able to rally in the second half. The first straightaway was kind of overwhelming, though, with hundreds of women stampeding down the golf course incline into a tight pass. On the first turn, we went from a sprint to almost a dead stop! I kept reminding myself to relax, relax, relax.
The first mile flew by, and it was so downhill that my 5:30something split felt like a 5:50 effort. Even going out in 5:30, I was still in like 150th place. I bunched up with two of my teammates during the second mile, and we came through two miles right over 11:30. Really started trying to pass people as the real hills began.
From 2.5 miles to the finish (6k, or 3.75 miles), there were three pretty intense hills. I dug deep and powered up the first one and told myself I’d be able to recover on the upcoming downhill. That didn’t work too well because I still felt very lactic when I hit the next hill, which was significantly longer, albeit less steep, than the previous one.
The last hill was half a mile long, and it hurt. A lot. Finally made it to the top and rounded the final turn, and we had a quarter mile to go. I kicked with what I had left, and with about 25 meters to go, my teammate (who has a notoriously lethal kick) flew by me. I went with her as much as I could, and we ended up passing a couple other girls before the finish. We finished together in 22:16, which was a 36-second PR for me, a minute PR for her, 5:58 average pace, and converts to an 18:21 5k!
Afterwards, we cooled down for about 3 miles, did 4 strides, and cheered on our men’s team, who had a 19-second spread between runners 1-5 over the 5.2 mile race! I downed a vanilla Siggi’s yogurt, rope stretched for a bit, took some pictures, and finally we headed to get food. Stopped at Wegmans for the third time in two days 😉 I treated myself to a pretty amazing post-race meal of a chicken pot pie, sautéed garlic kale, mac and cheese, a cranberry Kombucha, and a Wegmans pumpkin muffin. On point.
Overall, this race was a giant step in the right direction. It was the biggest cross country race I’ve ever participated in (I finished 136th). I’m happy with a PR and know that there’s more in the tank. I’m also thrilled that my teammate and I, who were the two slowest walk-ons entering our freshman year, finished as the seventh and eighth runners for our team!! I think my coach’s philosophy of “we don’t need anyone to run out of their minds. Just run what you are physically capable of” really helped me stay calm and focus on race day.
Now for the not so good news- ended a relationship on Friday night, and the past 1.5 days have been pretty rough. A veritable rollercoaster of emotion. Doesn’t help that I’m 100% sleep-deprived.