Race #5 of 13 recap: The anatomy of a run and the elusive negative splits

I ran my fifth race for 2013 and my third 5K on this past Saturday.   I was very tentative in signing up for this one so I didn't feel that excited feeling I usually get before I run a race.  Since I signed up the day before the race, I got a shirt two sizes larger than what I wear.  The forecast for the morning was in the 60s.  This was great. It had been in the 40s, even in the upper 30s, throughout the week.  I set my alarm to 6:00 am and settled in bed.  I had the most restless night and when the alarm sounded off, I begrudgingly hit the snooze button; and kept hitting it two more times.  I got up and dragged myself out of bed to prepare breakfast.  I usually eat a hard boiled egg, toast and hot tea before any morning run.  However, I didn't realize that we had run out of eggs!  So, I settled for just the toast and tea.  I debated whether to take a shower or skip it; I took one.  I felt the house was really cold so I knew it was nowhere near 60 degrees outside.  It was in fact 48 degrees!  Brrr...yes, for me down in Central Florida, this is downright cold!  I decided not to wear long running pants nor wear a long sleeve shirt.  I know that once the sun comes up it will be hot in no time. I was running late and the event was about 20 minutes away so I hurriedly attached my bib number and my shoe tag and left.

The race was a fundraiser for The Haven, a shelter for abused and neglected children.  It was definitely for a good cause and was reflected by the number of runners who were already at the venue.  This race was also different because the men ran at 7:30 am and the women started at 8:15 am.  I thought this was very interesting and a first one for me. When I got there, all the men had already gone through the finish line.  Since I decided to run at the last minute, I didn't go with anyone I knew.  When I got there, I didn't know anyone either.  It seemed that those who were there all knew each other!  I just stood on one side and waited for the lady in the blow horn to signal "GO".   I decided to check out the new headphones that I just unpacked from its case.  Big mistake!  The earplugs didn't fit my ears and it kept falling off!  The price I pay for getting it on clearance and not checking it out before using it in a run!

The temperature had gone up to about 52 degrees by the time we crossed "Start".  I've run in this venue before.  At each of the other runs the route always included a run up the bridge.  This race didn't. Instead it just looped around Downtown Melbourne twice.  Score one for me!  I decided that this will be the race that I will probably break 30 minutes!  So off I went.  A few yards into the run, I realized that I couldn't feel my feet hit the pavement!  I started to feel panicky.  Maybe that's a good thing so I can actually run faster, I thought.  That was the strangest thing ever.  I still don't have an explanation to it but eventually I started feeling them again.

I thought I was doing really well especially when I passed Mile 1 and the clock had my pace at 10:25!  I have never run a mile at this pace.  Momentarily, I thought, this is great!  However, this is where the run unraveled for me.  This happens at every 5k race I have ever run.  You see, my left (or is it the right) brain tells me "keep going" but the other side, and the more forceful side would say "that's a fast pace, you can slow down now"!  And that is exactly the remainder of this story.  A few yards after this mile marker, I decided to stop and walk.  Not because I was out of breath, nor because my legs were tired, but I just decided to stop and walk!  It's like I just hit a wall.  A wall running a 5K?  Really now, seriously? And when I start walking I lose all momentum.  I slow down even more and finishes at a time that I always feel should have been better.  I finished at 35:43.

It is true that running is not just a physical sport, it is mental as well.  When I ran my first 5K last year, I could hardly finish a mile without walking.  I have now surpassed that hurdle and can run 5Ks nonstop during my practice runs.  However, I have not overcome the hold that my brain has over my body's will to keep running in races.  Why is it so difficult to win over this?

Do you have any suggestions on what this runner should do?

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