Erica and I drove down to Portland last night and cheered on Sam as he won the master's mile. Lewis & Clark College has a beautiful track and it was good to get a feel for the atmosphere. We went to a sushi bar for dinner (best sushi I've ever had), swung by Voodoo dougnuts downtown, and overall just relaxed and enjoyed not having to stress about school.
My warmup felt great. I felt rested and the swelling that popped up in my knee yesterday had gone away. When I went to check in, somehow my entry had been shuffled into the fastest heat, but they were nice enough to move me back to the right one.
I wasn't sure what to expect for how the race would go. There were 13 guys in my race with seed times between 14:00 and 15:00, and I hoped i'd have a few who'd be running 71s. I didn't think I was quite ready to crack 14:40, so I wanted to run 71s for half the race and push it from there. I started on the inside of lane 1 and allowed the pack to take their place in front of me. My first 200 was only 36/37 and first lap 72. From there it increased to 69 and 70 and I decided it wasn't a good idea to start off that hot. So I dropped to a 71 and came through 1600 in 4:42.
I hoped people would drop off the pack in the 2nd mile, but it didn't happen. So I ran those laps alone and started to let the negative thoughts creep in. I was grumbling to myself about how much easier it would be if I had a pack to run with, and somewhere the pace slipped from 71s to 72s and I came through 3200 in 9:31 (4:49). My coach Sam kept yelling at me to look up, and it took me a couple laps to figure out what he was saying. 2 guys had fallen off the lead pack and hadn't gained any ground for several laps. So I lifted my eyes and tried to focus on reeling them in. With 5 to go, I wasn't feeling terrible. I was just getting down about running solo.
I got negative again around 4 and 3 laps to go. The pace was hurting. 2 to go I decided to stop being a baby and made a push. The pack of 2 had become a pack of 3 and I focused on closing on them. I made ground and coming into the last lap made another push. I passed one and another was coming back. 200 to go I heard 14:21 (4:50) and really opened up. I was gaining on the next guy but didn't quite have enough. Finished with a 32 for 14:53. 67 last lap.
Afterwards, Sam lectured me on how I should have run in that case. He said letting go of the pack was fine, but that I wasn't as alone as I thought I was. Keeping my eyes on the back runners and focusing on closing the gap in the last mile would have gotten me to the 14:40s, rather than looking at the ground and being negative. He's absolutely right. Laps 9, 10 & 11 were 72-mid, 73-low, and 73-high, when I was feeling most negative. That was when I bled away the <14:50. I thought it was good advice.
It was really fun to watch the fast heats of the men's and women's 5k. Mo's last lap was just ridiculous. Really fun to see.
This has been a great season. I'm happy to have seen the gains I've made, and even if I'd have liked to go a little faster in the 5k, I cut 32 seconds off my previous PR (which was at altitude) and got it closer to where it should be. I'm really looking forward to the next phase of training and grinding through some good mileage.