Saturday morning I ran a 5k in my fastest time EVER! I beat my previous record by one second, but it’s a PR nonetheless and I’ll take it.
Due to severe flooding in our area, the course was switched up a bit. I was a little bummed when I first found out. It was on the same bike path, just a different section. The original course was on the really flat part of the path that I’ve run a million times. The new route had us going downhill on the way out and uphill at a slight grade on the way back. Not a huge deal, but I don’t like change and it just made me a little nervous. The race ended up being a really small field of about 20 people, mostly men. My insecurities crept up and I found myself just praying that I wouldn’t be last. I know that’s not what it’s about, but it’s still a huge hangup for me.
I started out a little too fast and quickly felt it in my breathing. I reined it in a little and settled into a pace that felt comfortable. I made myself find that point before I looked down at my Garmin. I was really glad when I found that my “happy pace” was still faster than what I normally run. I struggle with keeping a steady pace, but managed to stay pretty consistent for the first two miles, running splits of 9:33 and 9:58 respectively.
That’s when the hill kicked in. It’s more of a grade than a visible “Oh, here comes the hill.” I could still feel it, mostly in my calves where I was already a little sore from my New Rules of Lifting for Women workout on Friday. At one point they started to cramp a bit so I decided to walk a little. That hurt even worse so I picked back up to a jog and rode it out to the finish, obviously at a slower pace. The last 1/4 mile was by far the hardest. My body was done, but I was so close to a PR and I wanted it BAD! My legs felt like Jell-o, but I gunned it and gave it everything I had. I stopped the time on my watch as I hit the line and was a little scared to look down. When I did and saw that 30:59 I smiled and did a little internal happy dance.
A good friend from church is a pretty serious (and very fast) runner and had come out to do the race “just for fun.” He was cheering me on at the finish line which was pretty cool. Once I got some water, he asked me how my run had been. I was a little embarassed to admit that 30:59 was a PR for me. I mean, this is Mr. I-just-won-this-5k-and-I’ve-run-the-Boston-Marathon-twice. Instead of laughing, he was extremely supportive and almost as excited as I was about my accomplishment. While we waited for the awards ceremony, we had a great discussion about running being a personal sport. One person’s goal might be to run a 4 minute mile pace while another person’s can be just to complete a 5k. Both goals are equally as exciting to achieve for the invidivual that set them.
That talk really made me feel so positive about my running. I want to get my 5k under 30 minutes so badly. Some days it seems unachievable and other days it feels just plain silly that I’m actually shooting for a time most “real” runners would consider to be super slow. Having this discussion with someone I respect as a runner made me remember that I run, therefore I’m a real runner. I accomplish something amazing every time I get out there and put one foot in front of the other. My goals are my own. They don’t have anything to do with what anyone else is doing. It reminds me of one of my all-time favorite quote:
The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.
(Baz Luhrman, Wear Sunscreen)
In this case, the race really was with myself. I was the only female in the 20-29 year old division so I got a gold medal!
I’ve received participation medals before, but never as an award based on where I finished. It was pretty cool. I was the 2nd female to finish, but the overall places weren’t divided out by male/female so the boys swept those. The race organizers felt bad when they realized their mistake and said they’d mail them to the top 3 ladies, but we all said it was okay.
There was another first at this race, but it was bittersweet. Remember my not-so-supportive support person? I finished ahead of her and she was not happy. Not even one little bit. This has only happened one other time when she had to pee really, really bad and couldn’t put in any real effort. It didn’t seem to phase her then, but this time she was visibly upset. I congratulated her as she crossed the finish line, but she just rolled her eyes and went and stood off to the side by herself. I let her have her space. At first I felt a little guilty for having passed her, but then I realized how silly that was. My race had absolutely nothing to do with her. By the time we got in our cars she was speaking to me again although it was still obviously bothering her. I refused to let her mood rain on my parade. I just remembered my quote and smiled all the way home.