I wanted to do one more 5k race before heading to Switzerland, and chose to do the Northampton 5k a week ago last Tuesday, on a hot, but dry, day. I do hope to break 20 on that course, but honestly, I'd be happy with anything faster than the previous one, which was a 20:39. I decided on a new plan, to start a little slower down the first hill in hopes of having fresher legs, but all that did was to make me breathe a lot of dust and dry out my throat. Oops. Passed all those people on the downhill, anyway. Downhills are fun!
My legs were feeling a bit heavy and sluggish on the flats, but I felt better and better on the hills, which was pretty cool. I began to reel in some fast starters by mile 2, though usually I'm the one being reeled in, but I was also starting to hurt by mile 2. I tried to remember to keep my arms relaxed and swinging, and brainwash myself into bad-ass-ness, and that got me up the big hill beginning mile 3. I heard some breathing bearing down on me as I crested the hill, and I couldn't hold off this unseen attacker, he caught me a short while further, cheering, "go, Alison's teammate!" I was wearing a US orienteering singlet, which I suppose gives it away.
James passing me gave me a brief spurt of energy, which quickly faded, but not before I could begin to brainwash myself into toughness again. I put in a surge up the last little hill, screaming at myself "NOW is when you find out how bad you want it!! You want this!" And over and over and over - "I want this! I want this!" It may have been a lie - hell, this is just a Tuesday night race - but my brain is dumb enough to believe what I tell it, and I pushed that last mile hard enough to break my PR on that course by 18 seconds. I usually run the last mile in 7:10+, this time, I was 6:54. I'll take it. Mental toughness is something you have to practice, and it feels good to have it working for you. I ended up 4th overall, in 20:22, mostly because all the fast people didn't feel like showing up, but that was in the money! First time I've ever won money at a running event, what a pleasant surprise!