Rocktoberfest 5-Miler 2017 Race Recap
And now for the final race of this fall season... the highly anticipated Rocktoberfest 5-Miler! I've been waiting all year for this run. Not because of the on-course jam bands or the musical instrument prizes, but because I have a bit of a vendetta to take care of.
You see, the story goes back to this time two years ago when I first ran this race. My young, energetic legs set their sights on an optimistic 35-minute finish and were robbed of that glory by Elizabeth's evil rolling hills. So I settled for 37:58 and promised myself that next year, I would come back stronger than ever. Well 2016 rolled around and ironically enough, I relived the exact same fate: I tried my hardest but still walked away with a slower time. This time, 1 SECOND slower than 2015 (...I swear, you can't make this up 😂 ).
So this year I'm taking one final swing at a new course-PR. I'm carb-ing out, drinking up, and dreaming gold, so I can show those 5 miles who's boss. After all, third time's the charm, right?!
On race morning, I woke up early, packed my cheerleaders (my boyfriend Matt and our new puppy Pharaoh) in the car, and showed up to the starting line with plenty of time to warm-up (mostly out of fear of making last year's mistake). And by warm-up, I mean I chased my social butterfly of a puppy around, who was determined to say hello to every single runner there.
After greeting two thirds of the bunch, I said farewell to my boys and lined up at the front. I tried to get in the groove of "Monster Mash" blasting over the speakers, but my mind was busy strategizing for the race that was only minutes away.
The course was slightly different than the years before, but fortunately the new starting line was positioned across from our local Target, which I know all too well. I shop these streets way too often, so I knew exactly what was coming: for the first mile, we were going to face a lengthy uphill stretch.
So when the starting countdown began, I decided to do something a lil' out of character: I actually paced myself out the gate (instead of my usual madman sprint), with a comfortably uncomfortable 7:46 pace. And it paid off, because around the 0.5 mile mark, I couldn't believe how strong and energetic I felt. So I picked up the pace and climbed Central Avenue's slope with a strong stride and a goofy smile.
When we turned onto Commonwealth Avenue at the 2-mile mark, I was relieved to see the familiar downhill stretch that earned a special place in my heart the years before. We're talkin' a whole mile for us to spread our wings, so I took advantage of this decline and lengthened my stride. My swift pace allowed me to catch up to two speedy chics that had been leading the pack, and that's when I realized I might just be able to hang with the big dogs for this race.
We rounded the 3-mile mark onto Briar Creek Road and faced another mighty climb. Fortunately this one was short-lived and it took us to another downhill paradise on Monroe Road. This race was flying by, and when I spotted the mile 4 sign, I knew I had only one mile left to be a rockstar. So far, my average pace was around 7:41 and I knew that if I wanted to break my course curse, I had to knock it down to a 7:35. So as I approached what I assumed was the final hill of the race, I kicked it into high gear and channeled my inner Molly Huddle towards the finish.
Curveball: when I reached the top of the hill, I spotted a 5-mile sign. Wait, what? Why wasn't I looking at a finish line instead? I quickly racked my brain and vaguely remembered spotting a "9k" floating around the race website. I scrambled to do some quick math to figure out how many miles a 9k was (because let's be honest, who has ever actually run a 9k before?!) and determined that I had about a half-mile left to go. Well, damn.
I glanced down at my watch to see that I clocked 38:42 at the fifth mile. That was a whole minute slower than last year's time. 😞 At first, I was super disappointed, but I remembered that I still had a half-mile left to shine. So I kept pushing until I finally spotted the long-awaited finish line in the distance. As I closed in on the blue banner, I also spotted a hunky fella standing on the sidelines with an adorable pup. 😍 So I sprinted like I was shooting flames out of my shoes and gave those boys the grand finale they had been waiting for.
After catching my breath and being doused with puppy kisses, I discovered that I scored a fourth place female finish and first place in my F25-29 division!! Sure, I didn't achieve the goal I had in mind, but I wasn't the slightest bit disappointed with my performance. And I think that's because during those 43 minutes, I made some of the wisest running decisions I've ever made during a race:
1. I pumped my brakes out the gate.
Normally I sprint across the starting line like I'm going for 100m gold. But this time, I was strategic with my starting line kick and paced myself wisely. This slower pace helped me feel more energized for longer.
2. I competed for time rather than the girls around me.
I'm super competitive by nature, but this race I stopped counting the girls passing me, and focused my attention on the clock instead. This kept my spirits up and prevented me from feeling discouraged early on in the run.
3. I only channeled positive energy.
It's so easy to doubt yourself when you're in pain or aren't moving as fast as you want to be. And when I'm not feeling my best, my natural tendency is to throw in the towel on my race goals. But this time around, I only let positive thoughts in and I proved to myself that optimism has just as much strength as a pair of fresh legs.
43:21 finish time // 7:46 average pace // 1st F25-29 out of 37
4th female out of 275 // 22nd overall out of 416