Last night I made a last minute decision. It was time for a little variety in my racing schedule. I knew I wasn’t going to go all out in this weekends Florida Marathon half, but perhaps I could in a shorter race. My choices were Florida Today 8K, 5K or both. In a perfect world I’d totally have done both, but regrettably I’m still reeling financially. I’d have to chose, and although normally I like the longer races, I settled on the 5K. Inspired by last months half marathon PR, I thought maybe I could finally break that elusive 18:00 mark! I’d certainly try! So I signed up for my first 5K of the year.
I jogged over to Front Street Park nice and early. Even though I wasn’t running the 8K, I wanted to be there to cheer the runners out of the gate, and then again at the finish. As they raced off, around a corner and immediately up a massive bridge… oy! What was I thinking! I probably should have looked at the course before deciding to try and PR on a shorter distance. I was just going to have to give it a shot anyway. I watched the clock as the first few runners sprinted in… definitely a pace I could hold on a decent day. I hoped this was representative of what I’d see in the 5K. Even if I didn’t break the elusive 18 minute barrier, a win would be nice. One way or another, I’d make the best of the circumstances.
So, it was with that mindset that I lined up for my own start. I positioned myself at the front and took the lead early. There was a small pack of runners right with me. I could do this! I knew they were likely to overtake me on the uphill, so I had to take advantage of every step on the flats and downhills. Sure enough, as soon as we hit the slightest incline, I started struggling. It wasn’t the drop in pace that worried me, but instead the major increase in back and leg pain. My injuries had been subsiding for a few months. I’d really hoped I was past the worst of it. So much for that! The top two runners now had a sizable lead.
When I reached the top of bridge (and it was quite a view!), I was able to pick the pace up again. Definitely not to the degree that I’d hoped, and at a far higher pain level. But I’m not one to give up. I tried to decrease the space between myself and the leaders, and entered the return trip up the bridge with a more manageable challenge. With that I succeeded, but it wasn’t enough. The two leaders battled it out to a photo finish, crossing the line within a second of each other. I was about 30 seconds behind, just barely under 19 minutes. Nothing too spectacular, but certainly nothing to be ashamed of either. I collected my medal, and enjoyed the post race party in the park. It was time to shift my focus to the half.