Yesterday, I ran my first race since June 2012, when I ran my first (and only) full marathon. I can’t run nearly as far now as then, but I’m faster!
The night before the race, Emma had her worst night of sleep in months. She woke up every 2-4 hours, which is very abnormal for her. The only nice part about it was that she was in a good mood whenever she woke up – instead of crying, she’d just lay in her crib and talk (aka. ‘squawk’) to herself. My longest stretch of sleep was 4 hours. After being up with her 4 times, I asked Travis to get up the last time so that I could stay in bed for another 40 minutes.
Anyway, not quite the way you want to prepare for a race but oh well. I had a cup of coffee and cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter before the race, dropped Emma off at my friend’s house, and made it up to the race site about 20 minutes before the race started.
It was a very small race so it only took me about 5 minutes to get my packet and go to the bathroom. I found my friend Cathy and her husband James just a little before they asked the runners to move into the street where the start line was. Then they said the start was still 15 minutes away so Cathy and I did a slow jog around the block to warmup.
My goal for the race was to at least run faster than an 11:00/mile pace, and if I beat my previous 5K time of 33:43, that’d be great too. Cathy wanted to see if she could beat her husband so we agreed to not run together.
I thought about taking my phone so that I could keep track of my pace and the mileage, but in the end, I decided to just enjoy the race and push myself by feel.
Finally, the race started and we were off. I settled into a nice, strong pace and kept Cathy and James in my sights for about the first .5 mile. Then they were gone. I kept running strong. I was pushing myself, but not too much. It was downhill, which was nice, but I knew that meant an uphill later so I couldn’t go too crazy.
I had no idea how far we had gone, but I figured it had to be close to a mile at least. I ran past the aid station (stopping for water would have just thrown off my pace) and then saw a sign that said Mile 2. ‘Holy cow!’ I thought. ‘That’s the quickest 2 miles I’ve ever run!’ It didn’t quite seem right, but if it was, I was going to kick this 5K’s butt!
Around a corner, there was another mile sign. It also said Mile 2, with an arrow to the right. Um, what? I took a right and found the uphill. I walked a bit at the top of the hill and was told by a flagger that first time through, we had to do another loop. Second time, go straight.
On my second loop, I saw the Mile 1 sign, which I had missed before. So I was just now coming up on Mile 2. That made more sense.
We passed the aid station again and were directed by another flagger to turn right for Mile 3, making a smaller loop than the first time, but not too small to miss the hills! I walked a bit again at the top, so I could catch my breath.
Even though it was only 65 at the start, the sun and (rare) humidity made it really hot. I was getting tired, and couldn’t accurately judge how long we had left. But I kept pushing it, reminding myself that I wanted to beat my old 5K time, and that I hadn’t been pushing it for 2 miles only to give up at the end.
We passed a different school and I thought we were getting close, but I saw runners far ahead of me… climbing another hill. Bummer.
I muscled up the last hill long enough to see one of Community Christian’s buses, so I knew where we were – and that the end was close! I crossed the finish line strong and grabbed a water, banana, and half a bagel from the volunteers.
I felt confident that I had made my goal of running faster than an 11:00 pace but had no idea of my time. I found Cathy and James, and we stood around talking until they posted the times. James had beaten Cathy, but she wasn’t too upset. Men…
Finally, the times were up. I finished in 31:52! That’s a pace of 10:17/mile, I later figured out, for a new 5K PR! YAY! I was very happy with that. Cathy finished in 29:50 and James in 26:19.
This was my first time doing a really small race (there were about 130 runners), which I’ve always wanted to do because I figured I’d at least have a shot at placing in my age group (which is now 30-39! I feel so old.) But when I looked on their website, it said they would award ‘the fastest in each age group’, which I took to mean only THE fastest (one person). I was mistaken though, and I got 3rd place in my age group. So I actually got a medal! YAY again! (Cathy got 2nd place in our age group. The 30-39 Female winner finished in 25:12.)
So my first race back was a success AND fun. I’m glad that I didn’t take my phone. The mile signs kept me guessing, and I ran on feel not on time, so I didn’t get discouraged.
About the race itself – it was the inaugural race, and a small one organized by parents instead of race professionals, but I was very impressed. They had a decent website, with all the pertinent information included. They sent out a pre-event email with lots of details. There were a ton of volunteers and even though the course could have been a little confusing, their flaggers were very helpful and it wasn’t confusing at all. The course was also USATF-certified and they posted a course map online (though I didn’t realize that before the race). We were instructed to park in the Target parking lot, and they had a shuttle taking people to the school (even though it was only like 2 blocks away). And the race proceeds benefit the school, which is where Cathy and James’ kids go. I would definitely do this race again!
Me and Cathy
I’m unfortunately not going to be able to do the triathlon relay this coming weekend (long story) but I’m already looking forward to doing another race. I’M BACK BABY!
And quick sidenote, this is my 700th post!