Coming out the other side of this weekend has allowed me to fully grasp the effort I put in, as my morning ritual requires much more effort as I limp down the stairs to grab my morning coffee. Strange to think of the amount of satisfaction I gain from everything hurting the way it does.
By the number of strange looks and responses like “why are you running the 5k then?” by numerous professional athletes, I had all but confirmed my own thought process of, “this is too much.” Luckily, I had shared a 5-hour train ride from Long Island, NY to Providence, RI with my teammate, Meghan Peyton. Along with sharing the ride together, we had both shared in the comfort of having exhausted ourselves for the day by competing in a 10k, followed by the added stress of traveling. Thanks to her, I was able to maintain a level of positive self-talk that allowed me to approach the 5k with as much poise as possible. And with Eric Finan joining our already uncanny shenanigans in Providence, the trifecta of our doltish conversation alleviated any additional stress of racing back to back.
Yet the physical toll the body takes when racing at a high capacity back to back, can be grueling punishment in its simplest form. With the goal being to get in a solid effort on Saturday at the Great Cow Harbor 10k and turning around to see what I could do a day later at the U.S.A. 5k Championships, each race had to be taken in stride. I couldn’t go into Cow Harbor thinking about Sunday’s race. My week’s preparation simply focused on the Saturday 10k. Once I crossed that finish line, I could begin my attack plan for Sunday’s 5k. Simply put, one race at a time. Save nothing for tomorrow.
Surprisingly, my legs felt relatively fresh for recovering from a 10k the morning before, but anyone who’s ever doubled in any event can tell you that doesn’t last long once the gun goes off. With an early morning shakeout confirming the previous day’s efforts, I felt confident in my fitness to walk away from this race weekend with some decent results. Warming up, I felt a calm that’s quite contradictory from my usual perspective heading into a race of this caliber. There was no need to play the race through my mind, because the plan was simple: race. It had the potential to end badly, but the plan was the same, just race. No need to think about splits or where to move, simply use yesterday’s work to test how well I could race on tired legs.
The 5k start was aided by an early downhill, so getting into an appropriate rhythm wasn’t terribly difficult. Knowing how most 5k’s of this caliber tend to run, coming through the mile in 4:33 gave two contradicting thoughts: 1) I’m surprised how good it feels to run this quick and 2) This pace seems a bit slow for a 5k. Next was to simply see what could happen in mile 2. There were numerous times that I felt myself fading, but kept realizing the fact that I was still in the pack and still in the hunt. So a quick return to form and slight adjustment to pace kept me in the race until longer that what I had expected. Mile two gave the same split as before, coming through in 9:06. Still a bit surprised at the overall ease, given yesterday’s effort. Some point between mile 2 and 3, the field spread out and I was hanging off just outside of top 10. The last push came at the bottom of the hill just before the finish, the same hill that aided my early efforts only to be there to mock those same efforts as I put in what little I had to round out a 12th place finish. While my time/place is not particularly impressive, I’m satisfied with a relatively even ~4:35 effort to cap off the weekend. And even more so, looking down the road, I will be able to capitalize on my efforts this weekend, when I plan to peak in bigger races this fall.