I arrived around 5:00 AM with my two boys and their friends. After a decent warm up, I went to the front of the start line and pretended I was going to win. Minutes before the gun went off, Olympian Jared Ward (who I didn’t recognize at the time) stepped just in front of me and greeted his acquaintances around him, then turned to me confused about what to do but gave a courtesy nod anyway.
At 6:05 the gun went off and the race began! I made a goal before to not watch my pace during the race and to go off of feel. I decided to run as hard as I thought I could for 35 mins and go from there. That seemed like a much more attainable goal since I wasn't sure how fast I could go or how long I could keep it. At the one mile mark my watch buzzed and I gave into the urge to see the pace to validate how I felt. To my surprise it showed 5:59. Feeling relatively good, I decided to maintain this pace. At the 5k mark I crossed over a timing mat and looked down at my split at 18:49. I was happy for once to see my watch also showed the same distance because I can’t tell you the mind boggling struggle I've had over the past weeks reviewing my training while it was accidentally put into an ultra-distance battery-saver mode. But alas it was fixed!
Around mile 4, the course began to flatten out, presenting a new challenge for me. As I struggled to maintain my speed, I shifted my focus to keeping a fast cadence. My lungs were tired, and my body felt on the verge of panic. It was evident that my body wasn't accustomed to this pace, but I was determined to find my current ceiling. Calculating the remaining distance and my fatigue, I realized that finishing under 40 minutes would be challenging. However, I decided to use a different approach and focused on passing one runner at a time. The contrast between their leisure breathing and mine was striking. I sounded like a zombie approaching from behind, occasionally interrupted by fits of coughing from choking on my spit. Despite feeling physically exhausted around mile 4.5, I was determined to see how fast I could run in the last 12 minutes. The mental battle intensified during the last ¾ of a mile. The temptation to forfeit what I had achieved over the past 5 miles and ease up on the pace was strong. However, I convinced myself to push to the end of the block, at which point I would renegotiate the pace. With just half a mile remaining, I was very tempted to ease up on the pace until I glanced at my watch and realized that with an extra push, I could finish in the 38-minute range. Determined, I lowered my head and pushed myself towards the finish line, completing the race in 38:56. I secured the first-place position in the masters division and ranked 17th overall in females. Above all, I’m pleased I was able to stay mentally focused throughout the race, which was my A goal. I look forward to returning next year in hopes of improvement!