Occasionally, when I’m extraordinarily stressed about an impending morning event, I’ll spend the night before tortured by fitful dreams in which the event has come and gone. Twice when meteorologists have predicted damaging, potentially deadly, morning thunderstorms or tornadoes, I’ve dreamt that it’s the following afternoon, and the storm has passed (for those of you new around here, I’m terrified of thunderstorms and tornadoes). The night before my first half marathon, I had more than one dream that I had already finished the race.
On Saturday night, I dreamt had finished Ravenswood.
Weird, right? These stress dreams happen so infrequently I can remember each and every one of them, and on Saturday I had a stress dream over a 5K. What gives?
I’ve had a banner month of racing, with not one, not two, but three straight PRs–HUGE PRs, run at paces I never dreamed possible. While I didn’t expect to PR at Shamrock, I did expect to PR at Chi Town and the Lakefront 10. I trained to PR at those races. After all those PRs, and, even more so, after the fast finishes I had at all three races, I really wanted to see what I could do at Ravenswood. There’s a pretty substantial difference, however, between pacing yourself for a 10 mile or half marathon PR and a 5K PR, and I had no clue what to expect out of myself at Ravenswood. I wanted a PR, but I didn’t know what kind of PR I could expect, or, honestly, if expecting to PR my 5K was even realistic. That (clearly) was an enormous source of stress for me.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I’m shamelessly obsessed with Lincoln Square and am always on the lookout for an excuse to visit my favorite neighborhood in Chicago, so Saturday morning I made my way out of Fleet Feet to retrieve my packet (along with everyone else, apparently. I arrived five minutes after packet pickup opened and there was already a line stretching all the way down the stairs!).
Love this year’s shirt. It’s so pretty!
I got into an epic fight with the Brown Line attempting to get to Lincoln Square Saturday morning, and as a result gave myself about twice as much time as necessary to get to the race. Naturally, the Brown Line cooperated Sunday morning, so I arrived on-site almost an hour before the run began. It was chilly and a bit windy Sunday morning, so I delayed checking my gear as long as I felt comfortable and then tried to keep moving until the start.
Like I said, I really had no idea what kind of time I could expect to run at Ravenswood. My usual 5K pace falls somewhere between 8:15 and 8:30, but in order to PR I’d need to run faster than that. I also knew it’d be in my best interest to surround myself with fast runners, because, as Shamrock has shown me on two occasions now, if I’m running with fast runners, I’ll end up running far faster than I thought I could run. With that in mind, I lined up near the front of the 8:00 pace area and hoped for the best.
We started on time, but getting through that first 800 meters or so was a bit of a challenge with a LOT of bobbing and weaving (and trying to not trample small children who spontaneously decide walk over the speed bumps. Humans need brake lights.). I actually covered my Garmin with my sleeve for the race to keep myself from freaking out over numbers, but even without my watch I could tell I was running far slower than I wanted to. Fortunately, the crowds thinned out after the first half mile, though to say I “settled” into a pace would be a bit of a stretch.
I hit the first mile mark at 8:25ish by the clock, so I figured I had probably run that mile at about an 8:00 pace. I still kept my watch hidden as we wove through Ravenswood into Lincoln Square and instead tried to develop a game plan for the last mile of the race (even though I had yet to hit mile two). I was so focused on the race that I barely glanced at the spectators along the course, and in so doing MISSED THE FACT THAT THE MAYOR WAS ON ONE OF THE CORNERS CHEERING FOR US. Chalk that up to the biggest disappointment of my running career to date. I’m seriously so annoyed about this! I guess he was just hanging out like a regular ol’ guy, HIGH FIVING RUNNERS AND EVERYTHING like it was no big deal and I MISSED IT! Ughhhhhhhhh. Not that I’m 100% confident I would’ve recognized Rahm Emanuel so out of context, BUT STILL. Sigh. Life is hard.
The clock at mile two was still in the 16s when I arrived, and though I’m no mathematician, I knew this meant I was definitely running a solid pace. My watch still stayed firmly tucked beneath my sleeve, though, as I started to put my made-me-miss-the-mayor strategy into place: maintain my pace for the remainder of Lincoln Ave., then step up my game once we turned onto Lawrence. Step up my game again on Damen to Wilson, and then run like my life depended on it down Wilson to the finish line.
Well, this kind of worked. The wind was out of the east on Sunday, because life is cruel, which made running down Lawrence a bit more challenging than I had hoped it’d be. Oddly enough, I remember starting to feel like I would die during Ravenswood on Lawrence last year, and the same thing happened on Sunday! Haha. My brain tried oh-so hard to bring me down, continuously saying, “I hate 5Ks,” but every time I had that thought I immediately responded with, “NO! I LOVE 5Ks!” Haha. That’s a lie (I really do hate 5Ks), but I knew negative thinking would get me nowhere, so I tried to focus and push the pace like I told myself I would.
In a perfect world, I wanted to kick down all of Wilson, which is the last quarter mile of the race. Sadly, this is not a perfect world in which we live, and WHOA BABY was I in bad shape by Wilson. I felt like I was going to throw up, or die, or possibly both at the same time. At this point, I finally unearthed my Garmin and saw 22:xx. Since my previous 5K PR was 25:24, I knew I would certainly PR — the question now was by how much. Though the idea of a 23:xx PR was tempting, I was so shot that I just wanted to finish alive. I didn’t even have it in me to kick at all at the end (which, I suppose, is the sign of race well run? Maybe?). Final official time: 24:17.
Oh, hell yes.
That’s a solid 1:07 PR for me in the 5K and averages out to a 7:49 pace (alsdkfjsldfkjasdlfkjasdf !!!!!!!!!!!!!). As we briefly discussed after Shamrock, I don’t ever run 7:xx. I associate 7:xx with running one mile at the most, not three. AND AND AND, to top it ALL off, when I finally did check out my Garmin stats, I saw that I negative splitted the whole race (7:59, 7:51, 7:31, 7:02 for the last .1), which is something I haven’t done in a looooong time.
I’m definitely happy with how everything worked out at Ravenswood, and, really, with this month in general. I’ve accomplished things I really, truly never believed possible, and I’m so proud of myself for what I’ve done. And now: rest. Time to give my legs a bit of a break (while still maintaining a base, of course) before marathon training!