A painfully slower Father Joe's Thanksgiving 5K
This race, however, was a completely different story. When I found out the day before that the course was not the same as Komen and didn't have the steep half mile hill at the end, I was so happy. I figured I could shave off some time from the 19:02 at Komen. Well, it didn't happen. After a fast first mile (5:50?), I struggled in the last half of the race, slowing down considerably and ended with a 19:40 finish. It wasn't all bad news though. The silver lining was that I placed 2nd in the 35-39 age group out of over 100 people in that division. I was 56th overall out of about 2,200 people. You can see my age division results here and overall results here.
I realize it's only 38 seconds slower, but that's an eternity in a 5K race. I just didn't feel great from the start. Here's a breakdown of the mistakes I made from the start that affected my performance and how I can learn from it. Looking back on it, I clearly see why I finished slower.
1. Too much caffeine: I made the mistake of having half of an Americano (made on my awesome new Breville espresso machine) an hour before the race. Normally, I don't like to consume a ton of caffeine before a race, but I figured it would help me get a burst of energy since I was tired from getting up at 6:20am. This plan backfired. The shot was so concentrated, I think it was too much and I didn't realize it.
2. Not enough food: I only ate a single slice of raisin bread instead of my usual cereal with milk. I didn't want to chance it with any dairy and racing hard (stomach issues). I should have stuck with my routine.
3. Lack of hydration. I didn't have enough water with breakfast. I should have had at least 16 oz of water. I had a few sips. I was worried about peeing, but there were porta-potties everywhere. The last race had tons of water at the starting line since the finish was also in the same area. My mouth was a bit dry right before we the start and I was super nervous. I should have brought the water bottle from my car with me, but didn't. So after about a minute of running, my mouth felt like a desert and chalky. It affected my breathing too. It was like I had no saliva in my mouth!! I have never had this happen to me before! It was scary and I started to panic. I was hoping there would be a water table at Mile 1, but I didn't see water until just before Mile 2. Too late.
So those three factors affected my performance in a major way. The course itself was not that bad. At the half mile mark there was a small hill. At 1.5 miles there was a larger, steeper rolling hill, but it was short. It was a relatively flat course that was WAY EASIER than the Komen. Figures
One last thing. Before the Komen race I did 2 "mock" 5Ks on the treadmill in the preceding weeks. This time I only did a few mile repeats on the treadmill at a faster clip, but not at my goal speed. And that was just once on the Monday night before the Thursday am race. I should have done more speed work to get my body acclimated to racing hard.
Now I know. Being out of competitive racing for 5 years has affected how I approach races. I forget the little things that can have a big impact on race day performance. You live and learn. There's always another 5K. I think I may try one in mid-December. We will see how I feel.