I ran the New Years Day 5K today in 20:11.
One hopes this day was not an augur for the rest of the year, as it didn't start well. On my way down to Fredericksburg (where the race was) a squirrel ran in front of my car as I exited 95. I swerved to miss it but saw it huddled in the road in my rear view mirror after. I wanted to stop and check on it, but there was nowhere safe to pull off. So I drove on to the race, almost in tears. In retrospect, I didn't hear or feel a thump, and there was no blood on my tires, so I'm really hoping that I didn't actually hit it. But it was still really upsetting.
Once I got to the race, I collected myself, then collected my bib, and then warmed up. It was overcast, but not yet raining - I hoped that the rain would hold off until after the race (it was supposed to start mid-morning). The course itself was in Pratt Park - a local park with a paved path. As I jogged the course I noted that much of it was fast, but it did have two bridge sections with wooden boardwalks, with a dip down and up to each of them.
Just as I finished my warm-up, it started to rain (of course). Fortunately I had packed a hat, so it was easy to run back to my car and put that on. Then we lined up and were off (at least my wave of 10 runners was).
The first minute or two was working into position, and then I hit a rhythm (one slightly disrupted by the realization that my right shoe was loose, which would bother me the rest of the race, though I don't think it had any practical effect). Pretty soon I was almost by myself - just the footfalls of one person behind me. I'd have to slow down when I hit a bridge and she'd pull near me, and then I'd pull away again.
One of the wooden bridges had a pretty steep drop down to it. As I rolled down the hill, I lost my balance and started wind-milling my arms. This has happened to me once before with the Next% (what I was wearing today). For whatever reason, steep declines plus my running gait plus the Next% don't work well - I lose my balance.
Somehow, I managed to stay on my feet (I really thought I was going down) and re-establish my rhythm. Amazingly, I didn't hit the woman behind me with my windmilling arms either, which was a relief.
We continued on, her on my heels. I tried to gently build, in anticipation of a big kick when I got to the right place before the finish line. But she kicked first and better. Actually, I had no kick at all when I went for it. I felt stuck in this hard tempo-ish gear. So I trailed in behind her to second. In retrospect, I should have slowed up during the middle of the race and let her take the lead so that I could let her do the work, not me. My mistake, but good job by her. And who knows if the result would have been any different.
Splits ended up being:
Mile 1: 6:34
Mile 2: 6:41 (this is where I almost went down)
Mile 3: 6:26
last 0.8: 31 seconds (course measured 3.08 on my Garmin GPS - not surprising since the course was not certified).
So....way slower than I expected. I'm annoyed but not too worried about it - I think it was at least partially due to being really tentative because of the rain and the near-fall.
I'm more concerned about the fact I had no kick at the end. I did some 200s on Tuesday, and I'm thinking that the gap from Tuesday-Friday might not have been enough.
I also think I may have raced a bit too much recently and it's hurt me, both in terms of losing fitness and in terms of being flat. Time to just focus on training for a few weeks.