Post-race report: Crystal City Twilighter 5K

I make three goals for every race: An A-goal that’s incredibly tough, but still

Me and Steve with our running group-post race.

Me and Steve with our running group-post race.

possible; a B-goal that’s lofty, but do-able; and a C-goal that draws the line between acceptable and “I shall weep into my free beer now.”

You never expect you’ll really need your C-goal, especially for a race as short as a 5K, which has far fewer variables than, say, a marathon. My C-goal for the Crystal City Twilighter 5K was to run it in 24 minutes and change. Indeed, I went 24-high (24:43, to be exact), and the goal became bouncing back quickly, because really, who wants to be the middle-of-the-pack runner who takes herself so seriously, she cries into her free beer over a rough race?

So I shook it off after a minute or two of disbelief, then had a blast at a cool post-race party with my running buddies. Steve, who was also about a minute off the time he’d hoped to run, did the same.

Read my full race review for Examiner.com here. Here’s how the race went down for me:

It was one of those runs when I just felt heavy from the start, like I had  somehow gained 10 pounds from the car to the start of the race. But I shook off that feeling, and just enjoyed the sight of a horde of smiling runners, dripping-wet from the pre-race downpour, making their way through Crystal City. I used some of the positive self-talk I learned during my recent weeklong mind-games series , and felt pretty great.

Then, I passed the 1-mile marker — in 7:54. Um, excuse me? This is my go-to pace for a hard 5-mile training run, making it unacceptable for a 5K I’m trying to run quickly. My 5Ks have never been particularly speedy, and I consider it my toughest distance. But I can usually go 23 and change, which seems respectable enough to me.

To my credit, I quit trash-talking myself about this pretty quickly and picked up the pace, running the next mile in 7 minutes after my nice little warmup. I felt like death, though — hot and heavy and slow. I felt that way until the moment I crossed the finish line, where Steve was waiting for me with his own disappointment.

To be fair to my body: I have been laying low to get ready for Marine Corps Marathon training, eschewing the long runs and speedwork until August, per my running doc’s orders. And I usually do go slower in the heat. And, as my husband and I discussed after the race, spending the day laying out by our pool probably wasn’t the best way to rest up beforehand. I’m not sure why I expected to run a fast time, other than to say that I’m an eternal optimist.

Greg Dale, director of sports psychology and leadership programs for Duke Athletics, who I talked to for a story last week (for more of his tips, click here), says it’s important to feel disappointment about a bad race, then let the feelings go while thinking about what went RIGHT during a race.

And I did a lot of things right. I’ve got my pre-race nutrition plan down to a science, with homemade pizza for the last big pre-race meal, then a Luna bar or low-fat muffin with a latte about two hours before the race. I’m psyched that the prospect of running in the rain no longer annoys me or gets me down, because I’m back in the mode of training no matter what the weather. I also did a good job of shaking off that first slow mile, even though I ultimately didn’t save the whole race.

Most importantly, I did a great job of keeping the race in perspective. Steve and I had a great time with our running buddies after the race. Then, on the Metro ride home, we started looking for our next 5K.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Post-race report: Crystal City Twilighter 5K

  1. michjoy61

    WOW! To me, a 7.54 mile is flying. It is interesting how speed is so personal to each of us running. I think you ran a very fast 5K! Congrats!

    5K is a hard race you have to start fast and maintain that speed throughout. DUH, like you don’t know that already! :O)

    Great job girl!

  2. Amy, it sounds like you had a rough day, but even so, 24:43 is an amazing time! I’m proud of you and jealous all at the same time 🙂

  3. Yes, I know the disappointment of a bad race — in most cases, they were marathons so it was quite heartbreaking.

    But you know what, the day after, I forgot about it and just made it another reason why when I get my goal, it will be all the more sweeter.

    Keep your eye on the big prize — for me, it’s the fact that I want to be a lifelong runner and though I’ll chase PRs, it’s the memories of the victories and defeat, and the next day’s run, that keep me smiling…

  4. trialsoftraining

    I love this paragraph – “I did a lot of things right…” – so true! Our legs just have their “days” and sometimes forget to hand over a warning! I’m glad you still enjoyed the post-race festivities 🙂

    also – I agree so much about the rain-thing. luckily it let up While we were runninng, for the most part. but honestly, a year ago? if it had been raining at ALL I was like “oooh NO. not going out! 😉

  5. 24 and some change ain’t so bad… oh and don’t beat yourself up because of one mile… your suppose to start out slower at the beginning of the race anyways 🙂

  6. Nice job on your run! You’re way faster than me 🙂

    And I hate runs when we feel so much heavier!

  7. I don’t like the idea of having multiple goals, it gives a second option during the race if you aren’t making running how you want to. I do change my goal for a race maybe a week before based on my training and how I feel, but come race day it’s one goal. Why give myself another goal as an option from my A goal. Gotta always be on my A game.

  8. you still hit one of your goals; congrats! night races can be tough – especially if you are used to running earlier in the day. you’ve eaten more, didn’t just freshly get out of bed, etc. i’m glad you didn’t beat yourself up too much like we runners tend to do sometimes. sounds like it was a fun time which is what matters most when it comes down to it. 🙂

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