So yesterday I stepped out of my comfort zone and ran in a real track meet...I ran unattached in a 3000m indoor race! My friend Kim ran track and XC at Illinois College, and they invited the alumni to come back to this particular meet and race unattached...so she hooked me up and I got to run too! 3000m was the longest event, (1.86 miles ish?) still too short and fast for me, but I figured it would be an amazingly hard speed workout...
Kim ran the mile and was pleasantly surprised at the speed she has maintained since she ran at IC! She looks awesome when she runs- strong, fast, like she could bust out any second. Courtney (another friend) ran the 55m dash out of nowhere- she never did a block start before, never ran track, and ended up 2nd of the 3 girls in her heat! hahahaha.
Robyn and DAAAAAAN were there too as our support and cheering crew! Robyn was the official photographer and Dan was the official block-holder (for Courtney) and coach/timer (for me).
So...I decided to go all out and wear a skirt for this track meet! Keep in mind this wasn't just the alumni and friends, this was an actual inter-collegiate track meet! Like, real teams and stuff. This is why I was really nervous- there were 3 other girls entered in the 3000m, all who were decked out in their track uniforms...while I proudly wore a black Nike top and my red snowflake gymgirl TRIKS skirt! Gotta represent the triathletes in the house! Haha...
Well I warmed up real good, I took it easy this week...TOO easy since I tried to get a lot of homework done before my special visitor showed up this weekend...so I figured my legs were "well rested"....but oh my gosh was I nervous- like a 6 out of 10. I knew there weren't going to be any consequences if I did bad, I didn't even know anyone except for my people, but I was hoping I wouldn't make an ass out of myself.
My friends and Dan all told me the same thing- you gotta stay with them from the get-go or you don't have a chance! "This isn't an Ironman, you don't pace yourself like you usually do, this is balls out!" I didn't like the sound of it...I know at previous 5Ks I've gone out way too hard, heart rate skyrocketed and I died by mile 1....how the hell would I do this?? I seeded myself at a 13:30 (a little over 7minute miles?) and the three other girls were seeded at a 11:30, 11:50, and 13:50...so I thought maybe I had a chance at beating one? I really wasn't too concerned about that since there was no way I could win it if the seed times were accurate, but I would be disappointed if I ran slower than 7:05 min/miles (my 5K pace...)
Balls out....so at the staging area, after peeing like 3 times...I took off my warmup gear and unveiled my smokin' running outfit =) and the other girls I was running with were like "OOOH my gosh that is so cute!! You're going to run in that?! What's your tattoo (referring to my MDOT) ??" They were really nice, so that took a little edge off! At the start line, I saw my friends, I was smiling, I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be. Waterfall start...SET...step up to the line...BAM!! and we are off....
One girl took off pretty quick...she was gone. I stayed right with the other two. Breathing, check. HR monitor not working, took it off before the race. RPE = as fast as I can go. The first lap felt alright (fast, of course, but I wasn't hyperventilating!) at :45...yowza 6min miles!! 2nd lap....1:30....goodness there's no way I will keep this pace...I think at this point the 2 girls starting breaking away just a bit, which was fine by me, my goal was to go hard and maintain it!
The 1/2 mile came up at a 3:06 (which is my fastest ever recorded 1/2 mile, referring to my 800 repeats!) So I slowed a bit which was a good thing...So, as I was running, twice during the race I heard (female) spectators comment..." ooooooooooooh her skirt so cute!!" That put a little smile on my face and kept me motivated! If I'm not gonna win this thing...you better believe I'm gonna look damn cute running in it!
By about the 7th lap, it started getting hard. Now I'm realizing that I am really just punishing myself- running AS HARD as I can, for AS LONG as I can. ouch. Seriously, what could be worse?? It's a good workout....it's a good workout...great training...you'll be faster at Ironman...
At the mile I came in at 6:30 (the 2nd 800 I averaged a 6:48 pace)...
THE BEST THING that kept me motivated and working my ass off was Dan and his coaching!! He was on the back stretch, and every time I came around he gave me encouragement and useful comments that I focused on for the next lap- " Relax your shoulders" "Your strides are looking a little short..." "Push off!!!" He tried to get me to be competitive- "go get em!" BUUUT that didn't really work, I still don't have that "kick someone else's ass" attitude in me yet =) I was going as hard as I could, I didn't care!
By lap 10 I was thinking "GEEEZ why didn't I just enter the 1600?? I still have 5 LAPS to go!!" Trying to put this into perspective, I tried consoling myself- "Less than 5, more like 4 minutes Laura, that's it!!" But 4 minutes seems like a LONG ASS TIME when your quads are burning and it's taking every ounce of effort and energy I have to suck in as much oxygen as possible per breath, drop my shoulders, and actually push off each step. I wanted to give in so bad!! During a marathon, it's perfectly acceptable to "survival shuffle" ya know, drop the intensity for a couple minutes, collect yourself, then get back into a nice aerobic groove. NOT the case here!! BALLS OUT THE WHOLE TIME!! Yes, there is lactate in your blood...yes it hurts a lot...yes you are probably maintaining a HR of 190-195 right now...but you can do this!! Don't give in!
So I kept on truckin...and I got lapped lol by the girl who took off at the start ( I think around lap 12 or 13) so I tried keeping her in my sights....Kept running hard...kept listening for the fab 4 to cheer me on and then coming around that first turn, all I wanted to hear was something new to focus on from Dan...then I got lapped AGAIN by the second girl (who broke away from her teammate...) But gosh I can't reiterate how excruciatingly painful those last 4-5 laps were!!! I'm thinking these track races are so much harder mentally than endurance events (well, take into account the short duration....but still...I'm not used to it!)
So in my mind, I was not doing any mental math of what pace I was running, what my finishing time might be etc. during the last 1/2 of the race...I was really just occupied by trying to regulate my breathing, shoulders, stride, push-off, and NOT lose intensity...I wouldn't say that my mind was blank, but it certainly wasn't busy like it is during a marathon or Ironman!
SO FINALLY my last lap came around (I did most of it by myself lol) and I was extremely happy when I saw my time- 12:38!!! Almost a minute faster than what I thought I would run!! So my last 7 laps I averaged about a 7:03 min/mi (slowed down QUITE A BIT, even though I was going HARD). My overall average pace was about a 6:45 min/mi.
So yes, I got last. But I didn't make a total ass of myself. Hey, if I was running for a team, I would have earned them 4 points. And I was really proud of myself for not giving in- I ran hard the whole time! I was also really surprised how fast I could go! I stepped out of my boundaries and I think it was a success! I'm totally up for it again. I'm not sure how I would do things differently- should I start out slower? I mean, my first 400 was a 6 minute pace, and I ended up running 7's at the end? I don't know, I'm not really an expert at the whole track competition thing. So the fast stuff hurts A LOT, but it's also a lot of fun!
-2 more girls commented on the cuteness of my skirt, and of course, I gave everyone the skirtsports.com info! TRIATHLETES REPRESENT!
-My entire respiratory tract BURNED- throat, nostrils, lungs, everything! Couldn't really do anything about it - it died down a little after 20 minutes, but I felt it for about 2 hours afterward!
-I IMMEDIATELY got sick? Dan, Robyn, Kim, and Courtney watched me go from a healthy state into a sneezing 3-5x/minute, mucus-flowing freak within 20 minutes of running! Very weird, and it's happened before - after I did an intense track workout at Horton. It's better now, both both times it lasted about a day to a day and 1/2. I'm thinking it has to do with the fact that my body is working with well over 100L of oxygen per minute while I'm exercising that hard (think about lining up 50 2L bottles of pop) and if there was something funny in the air, even a small little bacteria, I probably sucked it in...Any ideas?
So, now it's Sunday, and Dan has left =( ....my quads are still sore, but I feel accomplished! Here's a quote (that you've seen before) that sums up this experience:
" Your greatest challenge isn't someone else. It's the aching in your lungs and the burning in your legs and the voice inside you that yells "Can't!". But you don't listen. You push harder and hear the voice that whispers "Can..." and you realize that the person you thought you were is no match for the one you really are."