This morning I ran the Tampa Bay Lightning Bolt Run 5-miler. This is a smallish race that takes place in downtown Tampa, starting at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, home ice to the Tampa Bay Lightning (did I mention Tampa?). I ran this race last year for the first time, and I remember it well. I didn't have much of a time goal prior to the race, but when a runner friend asked me my goal, I decided to go for a 45-minute race. I came in at 44:59, and that was with a lot of help from another friend Lyle, who is also a Team in Training coach. I remember that it felt tough almost the whole time, my legs burned, and I wasn't sure I'd make my goal. So this morning, a little less than one year later, I only knew that I wanted to PR, which I was on target to do pace-wise since my recent Gasparilla victory (victory is a relative term, of course).
It was a cold morning (for Florida), in the low 50s, which is a perfect running temperature for me. I've been taking things pretty easy since Gasparilla, so I was feeling well-rested. I met up with some friends and watch the 5k runners take off, a half hour before the 5-mile race started. When I say this race is small, I mean that at 7:25am, five minutes prior to my race start, nobody was at the starting line. Finally, an announcer called for the 5-mile runners to line up, and then a small group--415 runners, a friend later told me--gathered, and almost immediately the horn blew. We were off, and I could feel that I was running faster than I could probably maintain (around 7:40), but I don't really know how to run shorter races as well as I do longer ones, so I mainly just tried to stop accelerating. I was also next a friend who I knew was a faster runner (faster than I had traditionally been, anyway), so I tried to just pace her for the first couple of miles. I gradually slowed into an average pace of 8:05, then 8:10, and eventually ended up with a final average pace of 8:14. So it was kind of backward from how I ran the half. But still; this was huge for me. I've never even run a 5k at that pace (I think my 5k PR is 26 min.).
One thing that pushed me in the last two miles was the presence of another runner on my tale. She was breathing in a way that really bothered me--it wasn't calm at all, and it ruffled my feathers a bit, so I just wanted to get away from her and maintain my steady, measured breathing. But I couldn't lose her easily, so the race became one between just the two of us. I would hear her on my heels, I would pull ahead, she'd get a jolt of energy and start breathing down my neck again, so I'd try to pull ahead, and the we got to the Platt St. Bridge, an incline, and although I usually do pretty well on inclines, she floored me, which angered me, so on the decline I blew past her. We finished out the race toggling that way, but she never quite passed me again. I even moved slightly into her path whenever I got ahead of her, so she'd have to run even further around me to pass. Is that wrong? I couldn't help myself. She chose to run so close to me, and I had to put up with her erratic breathing, so I think it was only fair.
Because of all that extra competitive effort, I was able to pull off a 41:09 race. At first I was upset and confused, because I thought the number I was trying to beat was 40 minutes, rather than 45 minutes (numbers aren't my forte). And I thought there was no way that happened, unless the course was long. And then I realized I was a whole five minutes off in my head, and I'd actually kicked ass, PRing by nearly four minutes.
2012 Bolt Run (5 miles): 44:59
2013 Bolt Run (5 miles): 41:09
(Amazingly, I didn't run over the mileage of this race; somehow I ran under!)
What's even cooler is that I placed eighth in my age (and gender) group! That's something I never even thought would happen. So I'm feeling very excited about running lately.
But that high was crushed just a little bit when I went to Saturday Yoga in Ybor a little while later and saw an instructor I hadn't seen in far too long. She gave me a hard time (jokingly, sort of) about not coming to her yoga class anymore. And I'd been feeling that guilt on my own, so it was only compounded when I saw her. It seems like I can only be truly dedicated to one thing at a time: running or yoga. And sometimes Crossboot fits in there, somewhere. But I'm enjoying my running accomplishments lately, and I'm still trying to fit in yoga when I can. I've just been going more to the free (or donation-based) classes or the relaxation-type classes. I don't feel the need to do everything hardcore all the time. Not right now, anyway. In fact, that's what I told her right before she started the class; I can't do it all. She hollered back, "Yes you can." We shall see.