While the first mile last night was one of the most painful I can remember, my legs (very) gradually loosened on the hills and I was able to pass a few women and really open up on the downhills and power uphill, though it still felt pretty gruesome. The beauty of the VCP course is that once you rest the biggest hill, you get a beautiful, rewarding downhill that lasts for ages. It can be really fun to let yourself scramble down those twists and turns like a crazy mountain goat. There was a guy huffing along behind me on the downhills last night who finally caught and passed me on the last little hill, but I couldn't care less about racing men in this race.
I felt pretty terrible about the race when I finished, annoyed that it felt so hard and uncomfortable, but I was happy to see that my 23:42 was right on par with my average times on that course. Not bad, after all. I know it's just a small race and you're thinking "who is that hard on themselves at a tiny 5k?" But I like to use these as a fitness gauge from year to year and I get cranky if I feel like I'm slowing down. Luckily, I ran well enough for 4th female overall and 1st in my new age group! Yay. The woman I couldn't catch on the hills turned out to be 23, which gave me a little comfort. She's probably fresh out of college track, right? Anyway, there was a time when top 5 female would have sent me over the moon, but right now I feel like I've trained enough for top 3. Greedy, I know. The pain during and after that race has reminded me to get my ass in gear and get back to strengthening my lower body in ways other than running.
On Sunday I ran another 5K in Ocean County, NJ and pulled off a very similar race. It had a ton of turns through a small neighborhood and I ran 22:07 or so, also good enough for 1st in my AG and $50 prize! I don't think I've ever actually won money before. I'm practically a pro now, right? Haha...no. I got beat by the lead woman by almost 5 minutes. Daaamn. It was a small race (~250 runners) and it was my Aunt's very first race. She's been training for a few months and I'm so proud of her- she ran the entire time and enjoyed herself! I love watching people discover the joy of running! Maybe someday I'll take down my mileage and actually train specifically for the 5K to see if I can break 20:00. I do feel like I'm on a 5K splurge right now- my next 2 goal races end with 5K's. the Aquathlon is in 2 weeks and consists of a 1500m open water swim followed by a 5K and the NJ Sprint Tri also ends with 5K. I guess I will keep up the 800 repeats for another couple of weeks, as painful as they can be.
This week is all about recovery and strength, I have a twinge in my left hamstring that I babied yesterday and I'm still battling thoracic spine, lower rib and hip pain with weekly PT. I did some yoga this morning on Yogaglo.com (awesome site) and my body feels energized, though my arms feel noodly. Tomorrow I ride my bike to and from work with a stop on the way home to work with one of my young patients in a playground that's on the way home. I love the idea of getting around the city entirely on my own two legs instead of via bus/train at least once a week this summer.
Stay tuned for more racing in the weeks to come.