I went back and forth on whether to race this or not. Why not? Well....
a) I hate evening races;
b) for a variety of reasons, I've cut my running significantly back the past few weeks, including cutting back the mileage, missing my team's last few hill rep sessions, and holding off on my gym plyometrics - I'm not exactly speedy right now;
c) we have a tempo workout scheduled for Friday morning, and I wasn't sure that Wednesday night to Friday morning was enough time for me to recover;
d) one of the reasons I've been cutting back is to work through some issues with tight calves and feet - I wasn't sure racing a mile was a good idea, given the last few weeks.
But, my coach really wanted us to do this race (plus, my ART guy told me this morning I was totally fine to race, so I didn't have that excuse), so I pulled on my big girl panties. Who knows, maybe I was in better shape than I thought. I also pride myself on being someone who's not afraid to race when I'm out of shape. Things are never perfect - go with what you have and learn how to deal.
And if nothing else, this would be a chance to practice a different race strategy. In my last few track miles, I've ended up leading a pack, and then getting outkicked by others. I thought this time I'd try to play that same game, and see how it worked for me. Run patient, hold back until way close to the end, and then GO. I decided that I really didn't care about the overall time or placing - I just wanted to see if I could run a spectacular last 200m.
So we started, and I tried to tuck in behind a pack. Of course, we went out a bit fast, but then a group settled down slightly, and I tucked in behind them. And just let others set the pace. I was comfortable. Perhaps too comfortable, but this was what I wanted to play with this week. I was going to sit and sit, and then finally kick, and see how that worked.
800 m to go, and I was still settled. Usually I get impatient soon after that, and start extending my stride with about 600m to go. This time, I waited, and waited, and waited. 400m to go, I sat behind someone, and waited some more. Finally, a bit after the 200m to go point, feeling good, I tried to kick. Thought positive speedy thoughts, relaxed forward, pumped my arms, fired my glutes. I "envision[ed my] legs pushing off the ground and exploding with each stride." And I believed.... And...
Nothing really happened. Hah!
I just cruised to the finish. Not horribly - I held a good solid pace. But the explosive kick I had been saving up to deliver was a limp sparkler fizzling in the sand.
So maybe my tendency to pick up the pace a lot earlier and do a sustained push is the right strategy for me. Or maybe my lack of kick is because I haven't done fast running or much in the way of drills, strides, etc) the last few weeks. Who knows. Either way, I'm happy to have tried something different. You never know until you try. And it's not like I had a horrible race, especially given my slight lack of fitness.
Splits were: 85, 85, 83, 86. Again, I don't take these manually, but just set my garmin to autolap from the start point. The Garmin GPS isn't perfect, so these are just approximations, but still. What's interesting here is that, if the splits are more or less correct, then the last lap that I saved up and tried to kick on was my slowest, while the lap I really felt like I was holding back on was my fastest.
Which matches a common theme - when I try too hard, I run slower. 90% effort for me is much faster than 100%. Good to know. Something to experiment with more in my next race.
- Beautiful weather. And my team did really well!
- Horrible insomnia the night after the race. Yup - night races are not for me.