Yesterday's race was my first race of the season. I've already talked about how wonderful it was to stay at my aunt's house. That is a great tradition that I will revisit as often as I can find good races in Madison.
The race itself was a little brutal, if I'm being honest. The weather was awful....foggy, cold, a little windy and it misted all day. There were spots on the course where I had to really pay attention to my footing because of the ice. Most of the rest of the course was very wet and slushy. My feet were soaked before I completed the first mile.
I had been hoping to have a decent time; I knew there wasn't going to be a PR in that weather. I started out strong (as I always do), focusing on keeping my shoulders back and my head up and trying to keep a decent stride. I succeeded in the first two, but keeping a consistent stride was nearly impossible when I was constantly dodging puddles and ice patches.
It was an out-and-back course-NOT my favorite, but I was familiar with part of it because I ran it last year at the Zoo Run Run. The people in Madison know how to organize a nice race. They had a lot of friendly volunteers who shouted words of encouragement at me as I got to every intersection. They had people holding back traffic and they were always smiling. That reminded me to smile. I don't think I ever smile while I'm running. I have looked back at some of my race photos, and I'm never smiling. I know that it is exhausting and I'm working hard, but I do LOVE to run. I should at least express that. So, every time I saw a volunteer or another runner or a spectator, I would smile at them. I think it helped. Especially when I thought of those poor volunteers standing in the cold misty weather. They were probably freezing.
As is often the case in my runs, I start out too hard and lose my momentum the last 3/4 mile. This happened again. :-( I just didn't have enough left to really push it to the end. Most of the people that I passed the first half of the race, ran past me at the end. But they were all so encouraging that it motivated me to keep going, as hard as I could. I gave it everything I had at the end and finished in 31:21. Not the sub-30:00 time that I want, but it was the first race of the season, and I learned from it.
I will be incorporating some speed work into my runs. I don't want to, but I know it is important. I am going to keep adding distance to build my endurance for the half marathon in May, but I would love to run a couple good 5Ks this year, too.