5k Palooza

Sometimes I like to really add in a curveball for myself around the holidays.  Like my odd 5k Palooza goal.  It never seems like a stretch until you realize that you still need to do your marathon training long run and that you haven’t swam over 2000 yards since the half iron triathlon in September.  But, on we go.

So, for those in the dark, in the middle of my winter marathon training for the Shamrock Marathon in March, I decided to sign up for the New Years Swim Challenge again.  I had swam 5500 yards last year and assumed I would do around the same again this year.  But, then I had the awesome idea of doing a “triathlon” that would straddle the years.  A multiyear, multisport extravaganza that I appropriately named the 5k Palooza.  5k Palooza started with a 5k swim which would be followed by a 5k bike ride; to finish out the triathlon in the New Year, I signed up for my local running club’s First Day 5k.  Sounds fun, right?

Well, before any of that even started, I still had to squeeze in a long run for good measure.  Saturday morning two of my running buddies and I got some miles in.  I ran from my house to my friend Cate’s house (about 1.25ish miles away) and we ran together to the neighborhood pool (about 3.5 miles total for me) where our other friend Staci’s son had swim team practice.  The three of us then ran a little over three miles together and then dropped off Staci back at the pool. Cate and I ran back to her house giving her a little over 7 miles and then I ran home for the rest of my ten.  Super fun, super tiring.  We also had a fun photo shoot! Because, if you didn’t take a picture- did it actually happen?

Now to Sunday. The beginning of 5k Palooza. Cate and I both thought the swim event started at 11 (because it did last year), so we got ready…and found out it had been moved to 1 this year.  I couldn’t stop thinking about how ill-prepared I was, and suddenly I had more of the day to keep stressing.

Anyhoo, it finally arrived and we started swimming.  Luckily, it was just me, Cate and one other person in our lane, Alex. We just met him that day and it turns out he’s doing the same Ironman as Cate next year! But, we were the perfect lane mates- never bumped into each other.  We did a 2:20 interval (meaning we swam 100 yards and took a break and then started again when 2:20 was up) and then took a 1 minute break after the first 1000 yards, 2 minutes after the second, 3 after the third and 4 after the fourth.  After the 5th, though, we were anxious to finish so only breaked for less than 2 minutes.

The first 1000 yards was hard. But, that could be said for any “warmup”. The first mile in a run is a liar, and the first 1000 yards in a swim is grueling.  I honestly thought I’d make it to 3000 and have to be done. But, we kept going and going.  At 4000 yards we decided to put on our fins to take some of the strain off our poor, undertrained arms. Alex pressed on without them.  And just like that, we were done.  I had spent so much time negatively believing that I would fail at my goal that I was over the top excited to have finished it! The hardest part was done. Cate and I had swam a 5k. (Alex kept going. We weren’t trying to be heroes.) Including the breaks, it took me 2 hrs, 29 minutes and 9 seconds. Not including them, it was about 1 hr 40 minutes.  The first and hardest piece of the 5k Palooza was behind me.  And my poor arms felt (and still feel) like they were going to fall off.

After I got home, I immediately changed clothes and took to my trainer for the bike 5k. I was exhausted and hungry, but knew that if I hesitated, I was going to skip the easiest part of the challenge and fail for literally no reason. So, I kept my nose to the grindstone and managed to pump out a 5k on the bike trainer in 13:15.  Definitely not the fastest biking I’ve ever done, but I was grateful to just be moving the pedals! 5k bike- check!

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Last, but not least- the 5k run.  Even though I was beyond exhausted- I had to watch the ball drop with my husband and kids to bring in the new year!  I’m not much of a “napper” so I just kept pushing forward.  The First Day 5k wasn’t until 11am the next day, so I figured I’d be okay.

I went to bed shortly after the ball drop and completely forgot to set an alarm so slept until about 815. Probably the latest I’ve slept in in a very, very long time.  But, I felt super rested and cautiously optimistic about my super secret goal of keeping my 5k under 30 minutes.  The last time I had run the First Day 5k in 2016, my time was 31’05 and that was my best time for that race yet.  While most of my 3 miler speedwork days, including easy sections, had been below 30 minutes, I figured the goal was a little ridiculous considering all the battering I had already done to myself this weekend.

This morning was cold. Like way way cold for VA. It started out in the single digits and crept it’s way slowly up to the 20ish degree weather we would run in.  I wore a RIDICULOUS amount of clothes and I’m not even sorry. I had a cotton camisole, thermal long sleeve, thick pullover, vest, gloves, winter tights, running skirt, wool socks, knee high compression socks, a polar balaclava, and winter hat. Some wonderful woman also gave me hand warmers to put in my gloves.  I took a selfie with some of my friends and then we were off.

This particular club race has a fast field of runners so you really can never tell where you are in the scheme of things.  I kind of figured I was plodding along at around the 1030ish minute mile.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the first mile buzz at a 929! I got really excited and thought- I can try and keep this up!  So I just kept going and going.  I saw the water stop as I came up toward 1.5 miles and realized my lips were so dry.  So when I passed the turn around point and came back to it, I snagged a cup of water from one of my favorite water stop/SAG divas, Pam, and stood and sipped on the FREEZING water for a second.  I didn’t want to risk walking with it because I’ve been known to accidentally throw a drink in my own face and if i had done that in this temperature I probably would’ve cried.

Then I was off again.  The second mile buzzed on my phone- 941. I had obviously lost a few seconds to the water stop, but was still extremely pleased. But, now I was also SO tired. All I wanted to do was walk.  I was on the 12th mile in 5k Palooza and I was now faced with a decision.  Do I push through and finish like I want to, or do I walk and miss my goal, but claim it’s fine because I was tired anyway.  I want 2018 to be a show of my grit.  I have struggled over and over again to find the power to push through the pain and I didn’t want to give in on the first day….so I didn’t walk. I kept going and pushing. I even passed a few people towards the end.  The last mile was a 939 and the last tenth of a mile was a 833 pace.  My official 5k time was 29’46. I had done it. 5k Palooza was over and I had finished it on such a wonderfully high note.

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I’m exceptionally proud of how the 5k Palooza turned out.  I shouldn’t have been sitting around predicting my failure, but I am so glad I showed myself that I can and will complete my goals if I just dig deeper.  Now to stop setting crazy goals for myself.

Thinking about starting a run streak in January….

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