A VERY UNUSUAL COLOR DOMINATED DOWNTOWN ANN ARBOR last Sunday. The 2012 Shamrocks & Shenanigans 5Kwas the reason over 2,000 runners crowded Main Street, most of them (yours truly included) sporting one or more shades of green. And a beaut-i-ful mornin’ it was, too!
Unfortunately, I was not in top form that day. My legs felt sore and a bit heavy, and I could tell a PR wasn’t in the cards. I still lined up near the front and ran hard, and my coach, watching the race around the 2 mile mark, gave me a shout-out. But I wasn’t “feeling it” and thought I wasn’t in contention, so I didn’t push it toward the end and settled for finishing steady. The result, to my surprise, was a time of 21:00 – not near my best time, but faster than I’d thought, and good for #76 overall. My second surprise came when I checked the results and found I’d finished fourth in my age group. The awards went only three deep, so I’d just missed out – by under four seconds. And if I’d run just 15 seconds faster, I’d have taken second! Oh, laddie, had I but known!
Sure, I had my excuses – sore legs, leftover congestion from a recent virus or something, blah blah blah. Regardless, I hadn’t given it my best effort, and that wound up bothering me more than missing the award. I could either brood about it, or use the feeling to do something productive. Efficient guy that I am, I did both. And when I was done brooding, I set up an appointment with Coach Marie on Monday and hit the Internet for some insight on running a better 5K.
My research and conversation with Marie reached pretty much the same conclusions. If I wanted to run faster, I needed to run more miles, with more focused speedwork. And when racing, I need to develop a surge near the end, sometimes known as a “finishing kick.” Another key idea was to find a “fire” – something to run for, or to keep me going, at every race. Marie suggested that I adopt a mantra for when the going gets tough; hers, for example, is “Strong and steady” when she feels like she’s losing her form. Another runner, coming in for a conditioning class, shared his; it’s unprintable, but short and to the point, and I just might use it next time I don’t feel my best.
So, in the spirit of, When life deals you lemons, make lemon meringue pie, I signed up for a trail run in Brighton in two weeks. It’s a good opportunity to tune up for the Road Ends 5 Mile trail run at the end of April (where my goals include an award) and a chance to work on building and sustaining that fire. (The pie will come later – watch this space.)