On Saturday, April 7th, Shasta Zielke, Fionna Fallon, and Liz Anjos trekked out to McMinnville, Oregon for the Linfield Jenn Boyman Invitational. Zielke recapped her first-time experience racing the 5K on the track.
My goal for this spring has been to improve my 5K, with an A goal of running sub-18:00. With that goal in mind, I’ve run countless intervals at goal pace in the past few months, and I signed up to run the Carlsbad 5000 in March. Carlsbad was a good day and I managed to shave 20 seconds off my time for a new PR. However, I made some tactical mistakes during the race that I was sure cost me some time. So, a few hours after the race, I decided to run my first ever track 5K at Linfield College on April 7th to redeem myself. As a former 400 and 800 runner, I had never raced anything longer than a mile on the track, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I hoped that I’d be able to find a rhythm and lock into goal pace and come away with at least a PR, if not a sub-18:00 time.
In the days leading up to the race, the forecast for race day was looking grim, with rain and heavy winds predicted. The night before race day, I woke up to pounding rain and gale force winds – however, the day ended up dawning with clear skies and only a little wind, so I felt hopeful. As the pre-race hours crawled by, the weather started to become more and more blustery. By the time I, along with my teammates Fionna and Liz, and support crew, Alex and Alejandro, arrived at Linfield it was very windy with looming storm clouds. Conditions continued to deteriorate, with pelting rain starting up as Liz, Fionna, and I did our final strides, changed into our spikes, and reluctantly removed our warmups. The wind would be blowing against us on the homestretch, so I tried to mentally prepare myself.
Prior to the race, my coach Greg had told me that track 5Ks either go by really quickly or really slowly. My experience was the latter. When the gun went off the field settled in pretty quickly, with Fionna bolting to the front of the pack, followed by Liz and myself. I tucked in behind Liz and hoped for the best. The first lap was a few seconds quicker than goal pace and by the second lap I was right on goal pace. That would be the only time I’d be on pace the whole race.
I quickly fell a bit behind Liz and another runner, leaving me exposed to the wind and with another runner tucked in right behind me. The rest of the race is a bit of a blur. Battling the wind for 12 laps left me feeling demoralized pretty quickly, and I was struggling mentally. I heard Alex calling out my splits every lap and telling me I was running consistently- although consistently meant a couple seconds off goal pace on every lap.
When I would pass Greg on the backstretch he’d yell encouraging things about trying to close the gap, time to pick up the pace, etc. I so wanted to follow his advice, but felt like I was doing the best I could to just maintain my pace. The runner who’d been on my heels the majority of the race finally pulled around me with 400 (or maybe 800, it’s hard to remember) to go and I willed my body to push a little harder to the finish. I finished in 18:34, which was much slower than I’d hoped for, but I felt like I gave it everything I had on that day. In the post-race debrief, Greg mentioned that the wind probably added a second or two per lap to everyone’s times that day, which has helped me as I mentally process the race now that I’m a couple of days removed from it.
It’s hard to say if I’ll want to do another 5K on the track. I will say, now that I have a better idea of what to expect, I’d be curious to see how differently things could go with more favorable weather conditions. In the coming months I’m moving on and looking ahead to some longer races. I’ll be back for that sub-18 though!
Fionna, Liz, and Shasta finished the Linfield Jenn Boyman 5000 in 1st, 3rd, and 5th place with times of 18:12, 18:19, and 18:34, respectively. Check out the team race calendar to see where they and their RCTC teammates will be racing next. Always, follow @rosecitytrack on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for the latest team results and updates.