I lined up at 9am and when the lone firecracker was lit and went off, I quickly forgot about my promise to Lucho to take it easy. The downhill start didn't help as I cruised quickly through the first mile feeling really good. But then the course circled back uphill towards Safeway and the return down Harrison St. A slight uphill at 10,200 feet felt like I was climbing a mountain. My pace dropped off but my effort stayed pretty high. I was sucking in as much air as I could and commanding myself to not walk, no matter how much I wanted to.
Finally we got back onto some level roads and I started picking up the pace. I could see a group of 3-4 women ahead of me that I wanted to catch but knew I couldn't. Another woman came up beside me and with the finish line in sight, there was no way I was going to let her pass me. I sprinted down Harrison St. toward 6th. The cool thing was that people were lining the street for the parade that was going to take place right after the race but it felt like they were all there just to cheer us on.
I crossed the finish line and collapsed on the grass in front of City Hall where I spent the next 10 minutes gasping for breath and trying to convince myself I wasn't going to die. I've never run a 5K at such a high effort with such a slow time. I guess altitude will do that.
I hung out with some Leadman friends as we waited for results. I was pretty surprised when I found out I finished 5th female and 1st in my age group! The award ceremony was done promptly and quickly and I received a cool Leadville mug to go with my cool Leadville Marathon Finishers mug. And I'm not even a coffee drinker! Hot chocolate will taste just fine in them this winter.
I emailed my coach with the results and he was pretty happy. I was just happy that he didn't seem upset that I didn't keep my promise to run the race easy. I guess I just don't have it in me to take it easy in a 5K race.