Photo: My kit for the race. Nike tights, Socks by Neon Bandits, Mizuno top, Shoes Nike Epic React
Sometimes you put things out in the universe and instantly question whether it was the right decision or not. Well apparently, sometimes you need to put it out there to push yourself. I wasn’t panning to go after my 5K Personal Record this past weekend, I was planning to do what my half marathon training plan said to do, a 10 mile easy (well 2 miles easy then, 1 minute of strong running at the start of each of the next 8 miles) long run. The previous weekend I had guided Hannah DeFelice at the New Bedford Half, which had been a really fun day except for the extreme cold towards the end. I was prepping for my next race in 4 weeks, guiding Kyle Robidoux for 13+ miles as part of Team With A Vision‘s 2018 Boston Marathon Team.
I reached out to Kyle to see if he needed me to guide him for any long runs on the upcoming Sundays and he said yes, but not March 25th because he was running the An Ras Mor race with the Boston chapter of Achilles International, his wife and his daughter. I knew I couldn’t miss a chance to hang with the Achilles crew because I never get to run with them because they meet on Saturday mornings while I’m working. I checked the weather to make sure we weren’t getting ANOTHER Nor’Easter and saw we were in the clear and immediately signed up.
The race was put on by the very active Somerville Road Runners and cosponsored by The Heartbreak Hill Running co. and ZēLUS Beer Company . The Cambridge Location of the Heartbreak store was where bib pickup was and I was happy to see everything was well organized when I got there. Kyle, his family and one of his guides from Achilles were there when I arrived. We were there plenty early and after we got our bibs we popped down to the Asgard where they were hosting the post race festivities and were nice enough to let us warm up before we needed to corral for the race.
This is about the time when my self doubt and anxiety crept in. I had told a lot of people that I had hoped to set a new PR for 5K at this race. They had told me I would have no problem, but I wasn’t sure I believed it. I had tried to break the 21 minute barrier so many times since I had raced my previous 5K PR at the Cambridge Classic in September of 2015. I came up short every time. I had a whole new arsenal to tap into if I could just relax. The Achilles athletes (several of which I have guided on various occasions) wished me luck as I let them know I needed to go warm up for the race.
I stepped outside and started the race day warm up that is on the Heartbreaker portal as perscribed by Coach Dan. When I watched the video originally, I laughed because I know it very well. I know it by heart because I do it twice a week before Track Tuesdays and Thursday SEAC Speed workouts. This set of exercises immediately calmed me down. I’m not doing anything new today. I’m just running. Fast hopefully, but just running. By the time I got to walking lunges I could feel my confidence grow. I had just run splits in the commons on Thursday that would get me a PR, I just needed to deliver the goods. By the time I got to my strides I knew I was ready.
As I headed to the corrals I knew I needed to line up in the front. I needed to just hammer this out and I knew starting with the super fast people would help. As I lined up, I saw fellow Heartbreaker teammate and speed work photographer Justin Keefe. It was only 33 degrees and he had on shorts and a singlet so I immediately realized he was super fast because he didn’t look drunk. I didn’t realize until later that he was the defending champion! We wished each other a good race and I smiled as I saw the Achilles crew getting lined up.
We got off to a fast start and immediately started cruising down Massachusetts Avenue. I knew keeping the lead people in sight was a good idea. I knew I couldn’t keep up with them but I knew I couldn’t back off the pace. My first mile split was a 6:36 and I was definitely working for it because we had a head wind almost the entire way to Harvard Square. I settled into a pack with two of the Somerville Road Runners who had people all over course cheering for them. Not gonna lie, I got worried through the second mile. My split was a 6:45 so I knew I just needed to hold that to hit my goal.
As I went into the beginning of my third mile I felt a smile creep onto my face. It was going to happen. That number I had been trying to get under for so long was finally going to fall, I had been through way harder days than this. I immediately went into the mindset of our Yasso 800M workout we had done weeks earlier. It’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically in practice and I did it by focusing on a ponytail (AE group pacer for the day Coach Liz’s ponytail to be exact). Going around the track that many times definitely makes you dizzy. I just focused on Liz’s ponytail and was able to just grind it out by staying right behind my pacer.
In race mode, in the last mile, everyone in front of me’s head is Liz’s ponytail. I felt that real runners high come on and knew I had gas in the tank (or possibly Maurten, I did drink that pre-race). I dug in and just acted like each person was my pacer and I picked them off one by one. When I saw the 3 mile marker I knew this was going to be a very happy day. As I turned the corner I could see the race clock ticking at 20:15 and knew how close I was. I turned on my legs and crossed in 20:37! A new best time by 38 seconds! Huge congrats to my teammate Justin who secured a first place finish again.
I’m so happy I got to share this day with my friends because it’s friends that got me over that finish line. The ones who show up week after week for one common goal. To get faster and stronger. Thank you Heartbreakers, NRC Pacers & Coach Dan….I am so excited to see what my year of racing will hold. Watch out 2018, I’m coming to snatch your wig.
Photos: Post race smiles with the Robidoux/Kimmel crew.
Video Kyle crossing the finish line with his Achilles guides
Video Kyle’s daughter Lucy finishing strong
Video Bird’s Eye View of my race powered by Relive