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Almost a former blogger, but not yet

Stars, stripes and motivation

Stars and Stripes 5k Howland, OhioAfter a rough couple of months and probably one of the biggest running funks I've ever been in, I returned today to the site of where I set a 5k PR a couple of years ago -- the Stars and Stripes 5k in Howland, Ohio. I didn't think too much about setting a goal for this race other than using it as a test to see what kind of shape I'm in.

I'm a long way off from the type of 5k racing shape I'd like to be in, but I'm also not starting from scratch. I just needed some kind of bar to set headed into the second half of the year.

I figured that setting a goal of 24 minutes would be realistic. It's kind of disappointing that I'm not going for sub 22 at this point in the year, but I'm not battling reality anymore.

The race started off well. I fell into a comfortable group and thought I'd keep that pace for a while, only to look at my watch at the first turn and realize I didn't start it.

I took it off, put it in my pocket. Time to really fulfill that 2013 goal of mine by not wearing a watch in a race.

When I hit the first mile and the guy was calling out mile times, I was feeling pretty good. I was right at 7:45.

In the next mile I found myself pacing just behind a guy in a blue shirt. He kept looking back a bit, but I was very much running his race, not mine. And I knew that I was probably pushing myself more than I would have had I had my watch.

At mile 2, I was at 15:20. One thing was going through my head at this point -- don't fade away. Dropping off in the second half of races or the final few miles has been my biggest downfall in the past year. I wasn't going to walk away from this race letting myself down again.

When I rounded the corner for the final tenth of a mile or so, I passed a guy who had passed me a quarter mile earlier, then two other guys dusted me as they were fighting neck and neck. I saw that clock and kept my focus on sub 24.

I saw 23:49 when I crossed the finish clock, so give or take a few seconds, I hit my goal.

I have some mix feelings about it -- on one hand I'm ecstatic that coming out of a low point with running I can run a 7:40 pace 5k with a strong finish; on the other hand being 90 seconds slower than 2 years ago is disappointing.

It's my own undoing with the shape I'm in right now, but it's also motivation to turn things around in the next couple of months. I can feel myself breaking out of this both physically and mentally, and now I have to get to work making things happen.