Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Every Mile a Memory: Run for Riley 5K Race Report

In the past 43 days, I have run my first 10k, my second 10 miler (race report to come), and on April 24, I ran my seventeenth 5k. Having raced three different distances so close together, I realized during this race that while a 5k may "only" be 3.1 miles, there is no "only" about it and is quite possibly the toughest of the three.

I wanted to race this event not only because it benefits a local teenager's legacy, a life cut way too short because of cancer (and being a cancer survivor myself, there is a special draw towards such races), but it also was my "spirit renewed " race from last year. Putting that all aside, the race atmosphere is fun, too, and it's very close to home! It begins outside of the high school stadium and ends on the track with a DJ motivating the runners as they make the final stretch to the finish, not to mention there was a nice post-race spread last year of bagel bites (best.snacks.ever), bananas, cookies, water, coffee, and most importantly, an ice cream truck. So not only have I run this race once before, but it takes place about 2 miles from my house and on a course I am familiar with. Initially, I thought with it being so close to home that I would do a warm up run to the race. I am so glad I decided not to do that because I had no idea how hard this race was going to be and I think that would have been detrimental to the outcome.

This was my very first race ever where someone I know wasn't running it. Usually at my races, I've either had my co-worker, my oldest sister and brother-in-law, my husband, Paul, a friend or two, or a combination participating but not this time. Even though Paul wasn't going to run the race, he told me he'd be there to see me finish. What's interesting is last year, he wasn't running or racing with me yet and it was the first race where he surprised me by being there at the finish line so I loved he that he would be there again. 

I thought it was going to be weird getting to the race and standing around with no one to talk to but I dilly-dallied so much at home that when I finally DID get to the race, I had about five minutes for a warm up run and even that got cut short because I could see the crowd at the starting line and I panicked when I heard them announce it was only a couple minutes to start. 

The crowd looked enormous compared to last year and I didn't want to get stuck in the sea of walkers so I quickly found my spot closer to the front of the pack. It was a nice surprise to find one of our friends (he and his wife did the 10K relay back in March) was running the race, too. I guess I wouldn't be running "alone" after all. We chatted for a minute or so before they sounded the horn and off we went. Because of the huge crowd, I wanted to make sure I got far enough ahead at the beginning which made me start off WAY WAY faster than I should have. Even though I decided I wasn't going to try and PR this race, I just wanted to see if all the running I've done the last several months would pay off, I set high and low pace alerts on my FR220 anyway. It kept going off and I when I saw my paces were in the 7's, I knew this would not serve me well… and it didn't. Pretty much the entire race felt like a struggle and I kept thinking to myself how much I would rather be running my 10 mile race at the moment. So weird.

The course went along the city's bike path, which I have run countless times, and luckily we ran the mostly flat part and only had one hill/incline to contend with right before mile 1. Thank goodness because I was T-I-R-E-D and my legs would not have been happy to deal with more. I had to smile when we reached the one hill/incline and one of the women a head of me reached back to her friend/running partner, who was definitely struggling, grabbed her hand, and "helped" her up the hill. When they reached the top, they both put their hands up in victory. Sometimes there is more to a race than just running it and right there is one of the reasons I love it so much. =-)  The rest of the race was uneventful, except for this little boy who was ahead me and EVERY time I would try to pass him, he'd look over his shoulder and move in front of me. It wasn't like there wasn't plenty of room so I don't know why he was doing that but I was eventually able to pass him. Thank goodness. 

At the 2.5 mile mark, we turned into the school parking lot and headed towards the stadium. Yes, this race was almost over...but would I make it? I was so tired and I honestly didn't think I'd have that surge of energy I felt the last two races to pick it up. At 2.8 miles, I heard someone tell me to keep pushing (which I assumed it was either our friend who finished before me or Paul but at the moment I was so focused on trying to finish that I couldn't focus on anyone who might be standing there plus they were standing in the shadow of trees making it even harder to see who was who) and shortly after I reached the track and was finally on the home stretch at 3 miles, I noticed our friend standing along the track cheering me on, telling me to catch the woman in front of me. I never did catch her but when I saw the clock at 25 something and knew that a PR would be within my reach if I just.kept.running...so I did...but was I fast enough to beat my PR????

When I finished the race, I was greeted by Paul. He showed me the picture he took of me crossing the finish line. The clock in the background said 25:28 but I remember as I crossed the finish, there was no visible timing mat so I'm not sure what my official time was. My Garmin said 25:27 but I knew better than to go by that. The timing company always has live results but for some reason the computers weren't working at that moment. I remembered my results were automatically posted to my Facebook page so I checked there. Sure enough, I finished in 25:31, a PR by a mere four seconds, but they had me listed as a male so I was 6th in my AG. Hmmm, with a time of 25:31, there was a chance I might have won an AG placing for females so I found the owner of the timing company, showed him my stats on my phone, and told him they had me as a male. While I wait for him to first get the computers working so people could check their stats and then update my entry, I looked up the times for the females in my AG on my phone and sure enough, with a time of 25:31, I held the 3rd place spot. They eventually got the computers working, my entry updated, and I excitedly accepted my award when they called my name.

I'm not gonna lie, I went into this race with no real goal other than beating my time from last year, which I did so I am happy, but I thought with all the crazy running I have been doing this year and all the miles I have been putting in, that it would have been a lot "easier" and if I was going to PR, it would be more than four seconds, especially since my previous PR was from last August. It's all good though. Many take aways from this race, including a whole new respect for the 5k distance, and at the end of the day, I am excited and feel accomplished because I am doing something I never even dreamed I'd be doing two years ago. What's not to love about that!

On a side note: when I read my RR from this race last year, I missed a PR by four seconds and this year I beat it by four. I'm not crazy into numbers but sometimes I will look at them and think  "hmmmm" and this was one of those times... every mile a memory.