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Race report: Freezer 5K

The inaugural 5K in the Cobblestone District didn't begin until 11 a.m. This makes sense from many points of view, including (a) those who want a later starting time, (b) to wait until daylight actually hits downtown Buffalo and (c) to hope that temperatures warm up just a bit.

Frankly, it wasn't my favorite start time. I'm a morning person. The best part about triathlons and long distance races is that they begin wicked early. Heck, if my training run starts at 7 a.m., that's late.

And so on Sunday I had the entire morning to try and get in the mood to run the 5K. On Saturday I had completed my long run in preparation for the half marathon in Miami. That run was a solid hour and 40 minute run complete with tempo intervals. How I would run a 5K race the next day was anybody's guess.

I had thought about wearing a Santa hat for the race, but recalled my problem last year when the polyester hat just got way too hot. (I still think someone could make a nice chunk of change creating costume running gear out of wicking fabric.) Instead, I wore my usual cold gear and hoped for the best.

The race began on Perry Street, went to Michigan and then turned to go around the back side of HSBC Arena. The course crossed over the metro tracks and went down the Erie Basin Marina, to the observation tower, then back. The best part of a course with an out-and-back is getting to see your friends pass you on their return. First in my view was Nick, who was dressed for the occasion in an elf costume. And it was an all-out elf costume, right down to green stripped tights. He did, however, wear his racing flats and after only a month back to running he raced a PR.

My workout for the 5K was to run negative splits -- in other words each mile should be faster than the previous one. After a 10 minute easy warmup, my legs felt pretty good. The race lined up and that first mile felt pretty darn good too. I felt like I was running well but a bit easy.

That was until I hit the first mile mark and saw my time.

I went out too fast. Like an entire minute too fast. The pace I ran my first mile in is what I was striving to run my last mile in.

This was not a good sign.

I tried to hold that pace for the second mile, but ended up running a tad slower. OK, I thought. We can push through this last 1.1 mile hard.

And I did. I ran hard. I concentrated on keeping my form. And my third mile was my fastest.

Crossing the finish line was difficult. Granted, I didn't expect to PR in this race. That wasn't the goal. Still, there was something not pleasant about this race, something about how hard I worked to get what for me was an average time.

It took me some time (and some improved math skills) to realize that there important lessons in that 5K. That it wasn't the time (the dreaded numbers) that mattered the most but the quality of the run. Getting through a hard weekend of running, continuing to run and pound it out instead of stopping and throwing in the towel because the outcomes were less than perfect, is where the real improvement comes into play.

--- Amy Moritz

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