Race Day Recap: Always Learning

sahara smiling with medal


Races are all fun and games until you're at the last mile wondering why you've picked running as your sport. Okay, jokes aside, it's been a while since I've been at a starting line, and this past weekend I was off in a 5K USATF race. Usually the days before a race I'm pretty nervous and get worried over what my time will be but this time was a little bit different. The day before, I was in one word chill. Based on my speed workouts and pacing in my long runs a 7'21 per mile was all but secured™.  The day of on the other hand at 7AM my legs were shaking because ohmgod it's race day and can I really get a 21 min 5K? My all time PR is actually a 21 minute 5K, I just haven't raced that time in a while!

What did I eat the day before the race


I usually carb load with some sort of pasta but this time around I opted for a steak and that was about it. I know, fellow racers may be reading this like excuse me what are you doing not eating pasta or some other carb loading food, but I decided to go with a different outlook just to see how it'd effect my energy while running. I really am my own trial and error test person, technically speaking.

What did I eat | drink the morning of the race


My usual breakfast tends to be a toss up between oatmeal or sunny side up eggs. Oatmeal personally feels a bit heavy in my stomach as I run. So my go to race-day breakfast that's light but also a little bit filling was sunny side up eggs. A couple of weeks ago, I met up with a run club and this one woman said that before a race definitely drink 16oz of water and that's it, you're good to go. So, I decided to give this a try.

If you have been here long enough, you'll probably remember me once drinking 3 massive cups of water and my bladder alerting me of its existence while I was on my way driving to the race location. Trying to learn from the past, I filled one massive cup of water and only drank that. But here's the funny part. I don't know if it's just race nerves but before I left the house I practically went to the bathroom a handful of times and when I got to the race location I also went to the bathroom - and funnily enough I overheard a few girls saying that this was practically their 10th time to the bathroom so I'm assuming race nerves bathroom dashes is a thing?

sahara holding medal and envelope
gotta love my nike hijab slipping to cover my forehead! always have to push it back!

How was the race mile by mile


Before I get into this I wanted to mention that I did my 20 minute stretch routine and jogged a bit when I got there which was different for me. Usually I do my 20 minute stretch at home and don't jog but from my speed workouts I've learned a good 5 minute warm up jog is definitely needed. Okay, now let's get to the race. I have raced this course before, so I knew that it wasn't hilly and generally a flat course if we don't count this one hill sprinkled in between. 

Mile 1: There were people at the front holding signs on the pace you were planning to go for you to get into position. There wasn't a pacer which I was sort of disappointed in as in someways following someone can be easier to keep pace. It was fun and speedy clocking in at 7'36 - although not on target of my 7'21 pace I was pretty happy with how I was going. 

Mile 2: During this second mile my armband for my phone that uses velcro to wrap around my arm securely kept becoming undone, so it was a little bit frustrating. I use my phone to track my pace and for my phone to tell me my pace from time to time. By Mile 1.5 this is where the hill made it's appearance. I came and I conquered. I clocked in at 8'03. I was slipping from my 7 target and I was aware I needed to pick things up for Mile 3.

Mile 3: Now, the goal was to push and accelerate ahead at a high speed. That was the theory but did that happen? Sort of. This is where the flat course wasn't so flat. There were mini inclines so not a full hill but more or less a zig zag. One thing I am working on is running inclines in my runs rather than just on Hill Sprint days. This slowed my pace to 8'27.

Last 0.2: Okay so my phone was telling me congratulations your time is 24:XX but the race itself wasn't over. So by the time I actually completed it, I clocked in this last 0.2 at 7'54.

What was my ending time


I ended with a time of 25:44. I secured 2nd place in my age group and won a gift certificate! This was the first time I ever won a gift certificate so this was actually so surprising I was actually in shock.When I first crossed the finish line I was on the verge of tears - this was not the time I wanted. It took me a second to remind myself that crossing the finish line is an accomplishment even if inner me begs to differ.

I try not to get hung up on my time but it's hard not to be at times and I don't want to be a debbie downer that's never satisfied but I think with sport, we always know we can be/do better. I am getting better at appreciating my journey in running as much as I will appreciate getting my sub 20 5K when the time comes; it's a journey on being kind to myself no matter the outcome of any race or run or workout I do. 

sahara smiling with medal
right so I'm not sure why it looks like I have highlighter on but just to confirm the only highlighter here is the sun and my sweaty face - also one piece of hair was poking its way out hence the lil grey line drawn!!

What I Learned


My speed workouts where they called for different paces - Mile, 5K and 10K -  as well as my tempo workouts all had my 5K pace at 7'21 - they were all done on a track. And here's where I recognized my error. The track is flat and there are no inclines so it's almost as if training for a utopia of a road race. Although the track itself is great for 400M/800M repeats, I do think moving longer track workouts to the road to be more prepared on inclines and different paths is the right way forward even if it does mean the existence of stop lights will unbless my speed life. 

One thing I am also looking forward to adding in my schedule are long runs  +  tempo runs that include running on hills and inclines. For the most part, my running route has a few inclines and I save hill sprints for their own day. Now, I'm going to try to find a route that has a few hills sprinkled in.

There's also something else I learned in terms of 'mental strength in running'.  So, as I was racing in Mile 2, there was a boy with his dad running - we just finished coming up the hill and we had a few inclines lined up ahead. The boy, frustrated with himself, stopped and ripped his bib off because he felt he wasn't doing the best he could. The father helped calm him down to complete the race but it did make me think of how much pressure we put on ourselves to the point where the sport we love becomes a sport we hate to think of.

If anything, this reminded me that at the end of the day regardless of when you finish a race, the time aside each day to reach your fitness/or other related goals is an accomplishment because not everyone sticks to something and makes a habit of it, but you did. It's important to remember where you started, not just where you are right now. See the whole picture, not just the chapter you're on.

I have my eye on a USATF Championship Race in the 8K distance and though I've never raced the distance before, I look forward to conquering it. And conquering it doesn't have to mean a 30 min 8K, rather just getting to the finish line and learning more about myself as a runner is enough for the race to be conquered™.

Have you been racing lately or working towards making a dream a reality? What's one thing you're making a habit of right now?

sahara end logo

22 comments:

  1. I LOVE how thorough this was. And I might start trying eggs sunny side up before I go to the gym... I like to go in the morning and I want to eat before but I haven't found a good light breakfast - eggs are a good shout! As for the race, I'm sorry that you weren't happy with your time. I don't run but I know what it's like to be a perfectionist. But CONGRATS ON COMING SECOND! I am very proud of you!

    Jas xx

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    1. Thank you!!! And sunny side up eggs are great to have before heading out to a workout - it's nice and light so don't feel it moving all over in your stomach as you're working out. My general rule of thumb is to eat an hour/half hour before working out to make sure it's properly settled :)

      I'm learning to be a bit kinder to myself in my races, but as you can relate being a perfectionist can really swoop right in and take a so-so race and make it seem like it was absolutely terrible but!! I've been trying to focus more on my positives from that day, it was the first time I've come in second for my age group!!

      Thank you so so much for the kind words Jas!

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  2. I always always always always run fasted and have never once regretted it. The feeling of food in my stomach seems to slow me down and make me feel a bit sick even if it's something light. Don't be disheartened about your time! We all have off/ slower days and at least you learnt something about your training this way. HAVING TO STOP FOR LIGHTS/ TRAFFIC WHEN YOU'RE RUNNING OUTSIDE IS THE MOST INFURIATING THING. But it does make sense if you want to work on uneven surfaces. Good luck with your 8km! And huge well done for coming second (and getting the gift certificate) this time x

    Sophie
    www.glowsteady.co.uk

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    1. I don't think I've ever run fasted!! I feel like without breakfast I'd feel super sluggish - but technically speaking I end up eating 2 breakfasts so like a light one before racing and then and extra one once I get back home!

      YESS - without the off running days, I'd never learn on what I'd need to do to get to the speed that I see myself getting to. YES YES YES stoplights are like my enemy, and some take FOREVER to switch! Thank you so so much Sophie, I was super surprised when I got the gift certificate, it's never happened to me before!

      Thank you so much for reading!

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  3. What an incredible experience and achievement. I would love to do be involved in a race one day and raise money for charity! Thank you for sharing your experience! It is so inspiring xx
    Lauren | www.bournemouthgirl.com

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    1. Thank you so much Lauren!! That's one thing I'd love to get into - running to raise money for charities! Thanks so much for reading!

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  4. Congratulations! i am sick and can no longer work out but I dearly miss the feeling of a great workout and the sense of accomplishment. Good for you for making the most of every moment!

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    1. Thank you!! Oh no, I hope in the future you may find yourself working out again ❤️ It really is such a great sense of accomplishment running/any sport really :)

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  5. What a wonderful achievement. I am sure you'll crack the sub-20 mark in the near future. I love running too and reading stuff like this keeps me going.
    Good luck on the USATF Championship Race.

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm looking forward to the day I get to that sub-20 5K, super excited to keep training to make it there. YAY so glad to hear you also love running too, it really is the best sport!! Thanks so much for reading!

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  6. Fabulous post, Sahara! Massive congrats on completing the race - honestly that's a way way WAY more than I could ever do. It's cool that you trial and error your food to see what works best before a race! x

    Jenny
    http://www.jennyinneverland.com

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    1. Thank you so much Jenny! It's always so much fun to race to see how my training is going and what needs to change. I thought it'd be fun to change things up this time around eating wise - always a work in progress to see what works and what doesn't!

      Thanks so much for reading!

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  7. First of all; congrats on completing the race in second place and also on the gift certificate! I think it's amazing that so many different things in life can teach us lessons on endurance and perseverance, both mentally and physically. I know it can be disheartening when you have an expectation and desire for a specific thing but I'm sure this will only make you stronger and I'm sure you'll be even faster next time. I'm wishing you all the best for that 8K, I know regardless of your time, you'll smash it and be able to do it xx

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    1. Thank you!! Running really is more a mental sport than physical sport the more I think of it, it teaches so much on patience and really to never give up! It was a bit disheartening seeing my time but, as God Wills!

      I've learnt so many lessons from this race and applied it to my 8K one which went so amazingly I was in shock of myself at my speed haha, thank you so much for reading and for your kind words!!

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  8. I always wonder what runners eat/drink the day before and the day of the race! This was so interesting to read and I really enjoyed it. Congrats on completing the race and coming second place - that's amazing and so incredible! :)

    Soph - https://girlvsworldblog.com x

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    1. YAY happy to help you learn what I as a runner eat/drink before and the day of a race!! I tend to change things up as I see what works and what doesn't :) Thank you so much for your kind words and for reading!!

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  9. Well done on completing the race. I'm sending you so much love! 💜

    With love, Alisha Valerie x | www.alishavalerie.com

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  10. WELL DONE! You should be so so proud of yourself! Running races are both physical and mental and you did amazing! I really enjoyed reading your post and hearing your experience is great and definitely inspiring.

    I would definitely want to do a race in the next year or two. I have contemplated Tougher Mudder or The Color Run - so I will definitely be looking into something now.

    Thank you for sharing - good luck with any you do in the future!

    Ashlee | ashleemoyo.com

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    1. Thank you!! The more I race the more I realize running is so much more mental than physical - sometimes you really have put your self belief in yourself on like 100! YAY I'm so happy to hear, racing is super fun! I've done a Color Run before and it was so so fun and I've heard such great things about Tougher Mudder!

      Thank you so much for reading!

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  11. I loved reading this. I have never ran a race and to be honest I don’t run. At all. So it was eye opening to read how you prepare and run a race! Massive well done for coming second and finishing, I know it’s not what you wanted but it’s a massive achievement. You recognised areas that could change and hopefully once those changes are implemented you’ll see the improvement you want and next time you will have the timing you want. Nevertheless, be proud of your accomplishment x

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    1. YAY, so glad to hear you enjoyed reading Romina! Thank you so so much! I was super surprised to see I came in second and ended up actually getting a gift certificate for the first time. Although not the time I had in mind, I learned so much on what changes I needed to make to improve which - although in the beginning I was really sad about the time - this race helped me massively when I went on to race my 8K this past week!

      One thing I really try to work on is being proud of my accomplishments, regardless of time etc., because running a race itself is an accomplishment I tend to forget :)

      Thank you so much for reading Romina and for your kind words!!

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