This is a Race, So Race It

Last night as I was running my second 5k in as many weeks, I realized– this is a race, so race it. I never used to wear headphones during races because I felt it was my time to focus on the goal. As my times started to steady, I became more interested in escaping the anxiety of racing and so I started listening to music. While I wasn’t listening to music in my last two races, I realized I may have lost my will in races – to not just truck along, but to really push myself. You can always die after the finish line, but you better make it past it first!

My first mile came up faster than expected, my second was slow as I tend to get in the middle miles, and my third, I kicked it up a notch after my competitive streak finally kicked in. There was a girl I was neck and neck with. It was almost enjoyable running behind her because she had these intricate straps on the back of her sports bra that I was admiring. But when she muttered to me, “let’s keep it up,” my racing anxiety kicked in. At that moment, just like any other when I’m pacing against someone else, my inner voice starts freaking — “don’t let them win!” vs. “let them go ahead, end this anxiety!” For a moment I thought, it’s okay if she gets a little ahead, as long as I stay close behind, I’ll surely get her in the end. But then I thought, this is a race. It’s like when I’m driving a car on the highway and all of a sudden I notice I’m going 55, when I should be going 65. I push harder on the pedal and kick it up a notch. It’s not like it takes much more energy for me to do, I just need to stay present and focused so I so don’t start slowing down again. With that in mind, I kicked it up a notch. As I shifted gears, I could tell she was trying to stay with me, but she wasn’t going to be able to stay next to me. With less than a mile to go, I thought about my recent 800m (1/2mi) track repeats, which if you added two together were a sub 7-minute mile. I knew I had the speed. My competitive spirit pushed me all the way to the finish, pushing past the others around me.

After staggering toward the water, I noticed my competitor and congratulated her on the race and thanked her for the push. I also muttered something about liking her sports bra, but I was a bit out of it at the moment and I don’t think she understood what I was talking about. I then bumped into a few people as I made my way to the side of the finish area to wipe my eyes. Sweat was pouring in and blinding me. I couldn’t just wipe my eyes since I had mascara on, and my shirt was too sweaty to absorb anything. So I just kept wiping my forehead for a while until I managed to clear the way of future sweat and was able to continue on.

So far this summer, I’ve run 3 5ks.

RACE OFFICIAL MILE 1 MILE 2 MILE 3
6.7 Prospect P 23:54 / 7:43 7:46 (HR 174) 7:36 (HR 165) 7:39 (HR 165)
7.17 Prospect P 24:03 / 7:54 7:45 (HR 157) 8:16 (HR 166) 7:37 (HR 166)
7.27 Central P 23:04 / 7:26 7:18 (HR 159) 7:38 (HR 167) 7:09 (HR 169)

Race 1, 58% I was running in perform zone (80% of HR) and 41% in peak (90% of HR)
Race 2, 80% I was running in perform zone (80% of HR)
Race 3, 57% I was running in perform (80% of HR) and 39% in peak (90% of HR)

I don’t quite understand heart rate, but it’s interesting when you look at it compared to my varying paces. Any insight into this?

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