I had been entertaining the idea of running a 5k for about a week this past January when a friend posted on Facebook that she was doing a 5k and wondered if anyone wanted to join her. Figuring it must be a sign, I signed up too. :)
My original reason for doing the race was to give me an incentive to continue working out 5 days a week, and to do so more intensely than I had been over the holidays (which had been a low-impact 20 minute workout each day). But, being slightly competitive, I soon tacked a PR goal onto that--I wanted to be 5 minutes faster than my previous 5k time of 35:12 (that I'd run at the Chili Bowl 5k in February 2011). The winter here has been cold and snowy, and for the first couple weeks of training I was running on our treadmill and the times I was pulling did not look good. 12 and 11 minute miles were just not going to cut it, and I began to think that a 30 minute 5k was a little too optimistic. I got a little nervous. Then, the weather turned a little nicer, and I got a few runs in outside, which revealed that our treadmill hadn't been calibrated correctly, and I had actually been running about a 10 minute mile. So I began to hope again. And then, on the last two Mondays, when I ran a 2 3/4 and a 3 mile run under my goal 9:50/mile pace, and I realized a my goal was possible, I decided to tweak my "ultimate" goal again--to 29 minutes (but still be satisfied with at least a sub-30 time).
The eve of the race finally came and I began to get nervous again. Was 2 rest days before the race too many? Had I trained enough? Was I familiar enough with the course to run the race like I wanted to? After stewing over it for 20 minutes in bed, I decided I just had to trust that the training schedule I'd been following wouldn't lead me astray and hope that it'd be enough.
|Me, Shelley, and Jessica are all smiles before the race. We're excited and ready to start!|
Finally, the gun sounded and we were off! After a slightly frustrating start (of technical difficulties with my watch and MP3 player), my tempo song (the one I'd been training to that kept me to the beat of my 30 minute goal pace) was on and I was in the groove (and hoping I didn't have too much time to make up).
We cruised through the first mile (which was mostly downhill) and were excited to know that we completed it right at 9 minutes! But the real test--the hill--was coming up (at mile 1.5). "Alright" I told myself "It's just a hill. It's not too bad. You can do this." But then we saw it, and it was MUCH steeper than I expected. "That's ok." I told myself again. "Just keep to the beat of the song and you'll get through it. Just keep on pace." Right about that time I saw a lone spectator holding a sign off to our left, and I thought "What a sweet angel to be right here where their friend--and all of us--needs them most. Bless that person." And then I looked a little closer and realized that it was one of our friends from Church, Elizabeth Brown. I was SO grateful to see a friendly face. With that encouragement, I powered up the hill while Shelley and Elizabeth ran together behind me, and caught up to Jessica who'd pulled ahead a little while before. Running side by side, we took on another (much smaller, but still significant) hill and finished up our second mile at 18:10. "The worst is over" I told Jessica, and to myself said "Over halfway there."
The hills had taken more out of me than I'd expected, and as we took a turn onto our second-to-last street, I had to keep reminding myself "You can do this! You've done this before! Just keep running to the beat!" (I learned in this race how important running to music is; it kept me on pace and kept me going when I otherwise would have slowed down time and again. It really was a lifesaver.)
|Cruising in to the finish line along the final stretch.|
Then we were to the final .125 (or 200 yards) of the 5k, which was a straightaway to the finish line (and where I had planned to go "all out"). Adrenaline pumping, and with some more cheers from Elizabeth and Travis and the girls in sight (oh how it made my heart happy to see my girls and Travis's smiling face and hear him cheering excitedly for me), I gave it all I had...
|Seeing my sweet family and knowing I'm almost there.|
|Grinning after Travis telling me "Smile! You're going fast!"|
I found out after the race that I had also finished 7th in my gender and age bracket (25-29 year old women) and 115th out of 263 runners overall. It felt so good to not be at the end of the pack!
Jessica and Shelley were close behind and we huddled together for congratulations and another picture before going home.
|Shelley coming in strong.|
|Finished and happy with our times and grateful to Elizabeth for her support.|
|All cleaned up and wearing my race threads. :)|
After I finished, Elizabeth commented that I need to catch the running bug. And maybe I have. That competitive part of me kind of wants to know if I have a faster time in me. So, til then...