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Race Recap! Luau 5k - 2/24/24

Chip Time: 20:33

Place: 1st Woman / 1st Overall

It was another beautiful morning for racing in Central Texas, but I was just not in the mood. I woke up at 3am Saturday morning and couldn't fall back asleep. Having also slept poorly on Thursday, I didn't think I'd have the energy to do anything worthwhile at the 5k I signed up for. Luckily, another part of me said not to waste the opportunity, because you can't know the future.

So, I drove northward to Pflugerville (an Austin suburb) to a park with a paved trail. This was easily the smallest race I've been a part of - only 26 people ran the out and back 5k, while another handful ran the 10k and half marathon. Set up by US Road Running, the atmosphere felt more like a trail race than a road (or park) race - that is to say, super relaxed. There was no urgency to start the race at exactly 8am, runners were sent off by a woman yelling "Go!", and the park trail remained open to other users. Plus, registration was only $30 - comparatively small for other races in the area.

Three women smile and hold up their race results in a park
Top three finishers!

Those are the benefits of a small race; the major drawback for me was the field size. I'm aiming to break 20 minutes for the 5k this year, and I'm getting closer. However, it's still a challenge and I think having more folks on the course to chase and more people cheering on the sidelines would help me in getting there. In a race this small, I ended up leading the pack from start to finish. In a way, this was a good mental challenge to almost be time trialing - the second and third place runners were a minute back so I didn't feel them chasing me too much. Seeing all the runners after the turnaround was helpful - we all smiled or said good job to each other and genuinely meant it. It also helped that I warmed up on the course, and was able to pick a spot where I would surge from at the end. Having that bit of a mental plan helped when there was no one else around, either running or cheering. The course was also well marked and easy to follow, which is not always a given!

In the end, the race was still a PR! I ran a 20:56 chip time in January and 20:33 in February, decreasing my average pace (according to Strava) from 6:49 to 6:42. I've got progress to make towards a sub-20 time, but with a bit more training and more people to chase, I'm feeling confident that I'll get there before the end of 2024. For now, it's time to turn my attention to the hills and trails - I've got the hilly Cap10k at the beginning of April and a trail running trip with Pure Trails in Spain at the end of April! I'm eyeing the CASA Superhero Run for another crack at the 5k in September...

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