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On Sunday, October 30, I ran in the Run to Overcome (aka Run 2 Overcome) in Lincoln, Nebraska, a very impressive 5k race that was held only a mile or so from our house. The race began and ended at Lincoln Southwest High School. Fortunately, as a Galloway Training Program director, I’m familiar with the Southwest track as we train on it every once in a while with our training group. This race was a very nice speed test in preparation for this coming Sunday’s Good Life Halfsy. My previous 5k record was from last fall, either from a race or a training run, can’t remember which.

So my only goal in this race was to break the 5k personal record. With how well my training has gone in preparation for the Halfsy lately, I was very excited about the possibilities to run a fast short race. And I had the added momentum and confidence of having broken my 15k PR the previous Sunday. Once runners build up steam, it’s hard to stop us. We’re like a freight trains smoothly running down the tracks once we get enough mojo and confidence with a little mometum.

Before I forget to tell you, you may find my full review of this race at I try to remember to review every race I run there. So now we will combine some visual of what the race looked like. I decided to wear one of my favorite race shirts (Run Laughlin). Since it was the day before Halloween, this orange shirt was the closest I had to wear with my BibRavePro Buff headband. Orange you glad I coordinated these festive Halloween colors for this run?

A few observations at this point: I wore my Mizuno Kazan trail shoes in order to try to keep some miles off my Mizuno Wave Rider 19 shoes that I may be racing in Sunday. I knew some of the pavement was uneven from running some of the course so I thought the trail shoes would work well. Ironically, I also ran my 50k in the Kazan shoes. I have ordered Mizuno Wave Rider 20 as my next racing shoe but those may not arrive here in time for Sunday’s half.

You may notice from the above photo that we are facing the wrong (clockwise) direction on the track. Usually we run on tracks counterclockwise although we vary it sometimes. Don’t worry though. Finishing the race, we reversed course and ran counterclockwise (correctly) so we are facing the numerals in the track lanes.

Also, it was chilly before the start. I wore my NYC Marathon running gloves for part of the race and was wearing wind pants and my headband. Also wore my OrangeMud single hydraquiver vest for the race so I wouldn’t have to stop for water. That also allows me to race with my phone securely.

Shortly before the race, the sun came out and the temperature increased. There was still a breeze but it wasn’t uncomfortably cold as before. When you race in Nebraska, you must dress in layers to be prepared for any weather conditions. At a moment’s notice, the weather can change here and frequently does when we are out on runs somewhat unprepared for changing conditions.

The race started at 1pm. There was a 1 mile race before this at noon. There was also pre-race warmups and aerobics, including group pushups, for interested participants. There were hundreds of people running the 5k. I couldn’t tell how much competition I would have, I recognized some faces but not many.

After the starting gun, we raced around the track oval clockwise on our way out of Southwest High School track, about 1/2 an oval before we left. I immediately noticed there were some fast kids running this race, including an 18 year-old girl who won the women’s race. I passed her within the first mile or so but I will say she was an excellent pacer and I could tell she was going to be a tough runner to beat.

My goal splits to PR this race were roughly 7:00/mile. I wanted the first mile to be well under 7:00 to give me a little cushion. I intended to positive-split the race, starting faster, then relaxing the pace closer to goal pace while still staying under it. I tend to run more like a jackrabbit at the beginning of races (sometimes too fast) so the positive split approach works well for 5ks.

We ran east on Pine Lake Road to 14th Street, then turned south on 14th Street. I commend the traffic police and volunteers helping with this race. The lanes were blocked off for us on 14th Street going both directions and we were very safe from cars who were kept away by barricades and police/volunteers.

Early in the race, not knowing how fast the field was, my goal was to run my race my pace and to simply try to keep the lead pack in sight. I was somewhat surprised that I was able to stick right behind the lead pack for much of this race until about 3 miles when they surged faster. But it did allow me to allow the leaders to block some wind and draft off of them.

We arrived at the one mile split. 6:39. Right on target. I was aiming closer to 6:30 but that was close enough. By this point, I had passed the women’s leader but she stayed right behind me until the finish. We paced each other maybe without realizing it.

Between mile 1 and 2, I was able to pass some people who were slowing down or struggling to maintain their too-fast first mile. People began jockeying for position a little bit here. I was floating between 4th-6th overall behind a lead pack of 3 men. The sun was helpful in warming us a little and I was able to finally remove my gloves about halfway through the race. At Yankee Hill Drive, we turned around after a slight loop and headed back north on 14th Street. The layout of the race was really neat at this point as I could see hundreds of runners and walkers behind me and where they were headed where we had already gone.

One important factor in this race for me was the home field advantage. This race was run almost entirely on streets that I run either daily or every other day. I felt very confident with every inch of the course having run it before. The track was a little less familiar to me that the street portion but as I said, we do Galloway magic mile workouts on the Southwest track with our group. So I know how the track feels and how fast it is.

I noticed that the lead pack was thinning out and could see that I was moving into 4th place. I considered trying to surge and possibly get third. But then I remembered: the Good Life Halfsy and my very important goal of obtaining a PR in that race. So I held back slightly, reserving some speed for the half.

Somewhere between the 2 and 3 mile mark, my Garmin Fenix 3HR gave me a big boost: +10 into the good range in heart rate monitoring. What?!? Plus ten? I’ve never had that large a jump in one run, especially a race since getting this watch. I think in the warmup mile running over to Lincoln Southwest, my Fenix said -3 into fair (showing either some pre-race nervous anxiety or just elevated heart rate–after all it was much colder running over there than it was during the race).

I was excited to see the Fenix green light to run all out for that PR. The second mile split was 7:00, showing good command of running the precise pace that I was aiming for in the race. And there was still plenty of energy left.

I tried to keep mile 3 close to the pacing of mile 2 and 3 was a little slower: 7:08.

Finally, I was passed by 2 men here and I was a little disappointed in that but one of them ended up finishing 3rd overall with a big surge. Run your race your pace, I told myself. I thought I had fallen into 7th overall but checking results, I had miscounted. Sixth out of 298.

It was amusing running back to Southwest High School to see that old fashioned low-to the ground hot rods were racing through a blocked off portion of the parking lot. Some car show or something. It was a little distracting but also amusing.

When I reached the Southwest track, I knew that the PR was going to happen. All I had to do was hold the pace I was running. So I accelerated with all my remaining energy and sprinted around the track oval to the finish. Seeing the finish time clock, I was really excited to see it was only at about 21:00 as I approached. After crossing the finish line, I notice my Garmin said only 3.06 miles. Must have run the tangents well. So to lock the PR, I ran fast enough to 3.11 and pressed stop on the watch. 21:35.5, 6:56 pace (sub 7!). The PR happened! I was so excited! Why?

Short distances are not my forte. I’m more of a long distance runner: half-marathon, marathon, or longer. But when I realized that I could make this an incremental speed test for my half, I was determined to shave some time off my 5k PR.

Due to the measured course being short, I’m keeping the PR as per the Garmin watch.

What did I learn from this race? First, if you run for a cause, it can give you an inspirational boost. They had a sign at the race: why do you run? And I wrote: to crush cancer and on behalf of all those struggling with cancer. It was inspiring to read and hear runners’ answers to that question at the race.See below for what I wrote on the sign (my writing is right above the Y of “MY WHY” on the sign).

Second, it is possible to run a PR in a race that is not your forte if you are consistent and create a roadmap or game plan to take you there. If you need help with creating a roadmap or game plan for yourself, please let me know: I’m here for you as a running and health coach. I’ve been running daily with the main target race being the Good Life Halfsy and the goal of a PR in that race. Achieving an incremental PR here in a 5k was intended to help me prepare for running solid splits at goal half-marathon pace.

Third, dress in layers and enjoy the beautiful fall running! Focus on the beauty of the outdoors and nature and less on the cool/cold breeze and/or wind. It’s fall in Nebraska. It’s cold, it’s warm. Deal with it. It’s easier to peel layers off during a run or race than it is to add layers that we forgot to bring with us. Nevertheless, fall running compared to other seasons is beautiful due to the autumn colors! Enjoy every footstep!

We all have our challenges that we might struggle to overcome. The charity taking over this race deals with mental health needs and scholarship help for those with mental illness, a cause near and dear to my heart. For me the challenge is more with my asthma and keeping inflammation at bay. It’s pretty well-controlled as long as I take daily steps to control it (for me this means running every day that I am healthy, able and fit to run). For others, the challenges may be of different natures. And I’m inspired by all those who struggle with much tougher physical or mental challenges than I must handle. But we all have the capacity to overcome most of the challenges we face. Not all. But most. And if we run for each other, especially for those who cannot, like those struggling with cancer, we will reach greater heights on behalf of those who inspired us.

So what are you running to overcome? What challenges, obstacles, and difficulties have you overcome? Please share your stories with us so we can learn from each other and inspire each other to all reach our fullest potential.

Later, my friends! Gotta Run to Overcome! What will YOU run to overcome? What is your WHY for running?