Get Moving Tucson 5K Race Report 
Monday, October 12, 2009, 11:09 AM
Posted by Administrator
It all started last Tuesday when my shoe pod battery died just before my 2-mile tempo run. Spoiled by technology, I've become accustomed to simply glancing at my Polar watch to gain all kinds of useful information, including my pace. And so, forced into an old-fashioned workout, I pushed a little beyond my comfort zone, aiming for a 9:15 - 9:30 pace, and tried to hold it for the distance. Imagine my surprise when I finished in 17 minutes. That's an 8:30 pace for those of you who are keeping track...and I was.

Earlier this year, I struggled to break 30 minutes for the 5K, and yet these numbers were telling me that a 27 or 28 minute race was within my grasp - a thought both intriguing and daunting. With my next event, the Get Moving Tucson 5K, less than a week away, curiosity led me to last year's results where I discovered that the woman who placed third in my age group finished in 27:04. Could I actually place?

Here are a few things I learned on race day...

There just might be something to this whole "warm-up" thing.
By Tuscon standards, this event has a relatively late start time of 8:00am. I wasn't quite sure what to do with myself that morning without the rush, rush, rush to get out the door for the typical beat-the-heat, moment-the-sun-rises race start.

We arrived downtown at 7:30am and, with my sights set on a PR, I pulled out all the stops and did a proper warm-up instead of my usual pre-race socializing. Keeping my eyes down to avoid conversation, I actually ran 1.5 miles and threw in three strides. This left me with warm muscles, a calm mind and 5 minutes to find a spot behind the starting line along with 700 other racers, including 397 entered in the 10-mile event.

Taiko drummers rock!
This drumming group has been a motivating presence at local races for the past few years and the new 4th Avenue underpass provided excellent acoustics for their goosebump-inducing sound. I reached them about 1/2 mile into the race, just after the 5K racers parted ways with the 10-milers. I was focused on keeping my pace around 9:00/mile and the drum beat was welcome inspiration.

4th Avenue is not flat.
I reached the 1-mile marker in 9:06 and, around that same time, began the gradual uphill of 4th Avenue. I never noticed this incline back in my single, bar-hopping days, but I can assure that it is, indeed, a hill.

I pushed as much as I could without letting my heart rate get out of control, and was thrilled to reach the turnaround at University and Euclid, as this meant that some downhill was coming my way. As I approached the second mile marker, a look at my watch confirmed that the incline had taken a toll on my pace, but I was pleased to have turned in a respectable 9:19 second mile.

Embarrassment is a powerful motivator.
I was a little concerned about my heart rate as I started the final mile, as I'd never pushed my little ticker so hard for so long. I made a deal with myself that, if I kept it up through the bottom of the 4th Avenue underpass, then I would walk the short hill on the other side. However, upon arriving at the magic spot, with my heart rate maxing at 181, I was dismayed by the normally welcome sight of cheering spectators. While their presence shamed me into running up the hill, I did take a 30 second walk break once I was safely out of their view. Then, with my heart rate back to a sustainable rhythm, I picked it up again for the finish.

What it feels like to leave it all out on the race course.
Painful, yet satisfying. I usually have enough reserves for a pretty good finishing kick, but it was all I could do to just maintain my pace down the final straightaway. Every few minutes throughout the race, I had checked in with myself - am I giving all I can? I did not want to finish with any regrets and, with an average heart rate of 177, I feel confident that I pushed as hard as I could. I was thrilled with my time, a personal record, of 28:40.

Running is always better with friends.
Races are like reunions for me. I caught up with old friends from Better Than Ever, shared support with my Tri Girls teammates, met some of Paul's new XOOD teammates and even ran into an MDA client. For me, there is simply no better way to spend a Sunday morning.

The Official Stats
81 out of 307 overall
5 out of 20 in my age group
Average pace of 9:14

In my little world, these stats are phenomenal. 5th in my age group - holy crap! However, I must inject a little perspective here and acknowledge that the primary reason for my stellar placing was the fact that all of the fast 35 to 39 year old women were running the 10-mile event. But, I'm still proud of my effort and my hard-earned PR. And I'm excited to see how much faster I can go!

I'd like to congratulate SAR on a fantastic event. It was a well-organized race at a fun venue and I love the new partnership with the Tucson Meet Yourself Festival.
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