I ran the St. Patrick's Day 5K for the first time last year. I didn't really love the race, but I did love the fact that I got a sweet, sweet PR (23:44).
That time loomed large as I warmed up for the race. The fact of the matter is, I am not as fast as I was last year. The injury to my left shin last fall forced me to take quite a lot of time off, and I have been returning to running - and to speed work - very carefully and gradually. Last spring, I went into half marathon/trisko season chasing a PR and nailed it. My first trisko/half marathon of the 2010 season is The Abe Lincoln Memorial Half Marathon on April 4, and as much as I'd like to PR, I just don't know if I can do it. This race, I figured, would be a good way to set expectations.
The temperature was in the 40s, rainy, and a bit windy. That kind of weather yields a wide variety of clothing choices from other runners. I wore tights, a long sleeved shirt with my racing team singlet over it, and my racing team jacket. Teammate Missy wore the same thing, without the jacket, and Penny sported shorts. As always, the guys wore less - Frank just did the singlet and shorts, and I was cold just looking at him. Of course, the people who ran the race dressed as leprechauns probably would have done so regardless. In retrospect, I think Missy's outfit was perfect. By the time I finished the race, I was a bit hot, but not so hot that I would have wanted bare arms or legs.
We took off, and as I approached the first mile, I felt totally worn out. When I heard my split time, I knew why: 7:45. Way too fast! I made an effort to relax and slow down in the second mile, which I did, big time, at 8:48. By the third mile, I felt like I was crawling, though apparently I wasn't - 8:35. I sped up a bit for that last .1 and finished in 26:20. That's a totally respectable race time... if you don't know how much faster I ran it the year before.
I am really trying to keep things in perspective. When I finish my half marathon/trisko in a few weeks, the most important thing is for me to cross the finish line knowing I have done the best I possibly could on that day. Last spring, that was 1:56:51. This year, I am hoping for 2:05. It won't be my best ever, but it can be my best of the day.