Band on the Run 5K
I hadn’t raced in a good two and a half months and my running had been on the slow side during my training runs so I wasn’t sure how things would pan out for me. Even with that in mind, for the first time since I started racing, there was not a hint of pre-race jitters to be found. I was very calm and cool (literally, more about that later) and excited to race.
This race was a fundraiser for a local high school’s band. It was close to home so I didn’t have to get up at an ungodly hour, which I appreciated as a mom of two little boys who hardly ever sleep through the night. I quickly put together some cereal in ziploc bags and a couple of drinks for the boys to eat while I raced, filled a big bottle with water and we were on our way. We put the kids in the BOB Revolution SE Duallie stroller (my new running partner; review coming soon) and walked to where the race was being held. I had checked the weather but wasn’t expecting how chilly it actually felt while we were out there. The day before, it was 70 degrees at 8am. That morning, it was in the very low 40s at the same time. Mother Nature really needs to get on some hormone replacement therapy or something. Oy, anyhow, it was colder than I had anticipated and the poor kids nearly froze in the stroller.
Usually when I arrive at a race, there are plenty of participants running around doing their pre-race warm ups. When we approached the high school, we didn’t see anyone and this made me a little nervous. My husband actually asked me if I had the right date. I assured him I did and we pressed on. We finally started seeing cars that were parked and a small crowd of people making their way into the high school. Whew, good! I didn’t get the family up and out in the cold for nothing! I made my way into the school’s cafeteria to sign in while my husband waited outside with the boys. I was surprised when I was handed a t-shirt and sent on my way. No bibs? Hmm, OK, this was new to me. I found my husband, threw the t-shirt in the BOB, got my gadgets ready (Garmin & iPod) and set out to find somewhere to warm up. We found the start/finish line where my husband found a great spot to park the stroller and I went on my merry way. I believe at this point, it was 15 or so minutes before the race was supposed to start. I set out and did a quick warm-up and when I got back to where my husband was, participants had already started to migrate at the start line so I got a quick drink, headed closer to the start and used a tree to do some quick stretches while one of the race organizers started to talk on the megaphone.
More talk, national anthem done by the band, and then we were off. Most of the race was on a road I’ve run many times which was comforting to know what to expect as far as elevation goes and such. It was an open course but there were cops at a few points to help with traffic and safety. My mentality for this race was to just run and have fun but, as soon as we were told to “go”, my competitive side took over and I was going faster than I had intended. It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the excitement of a race. I wasn’t flying at first but I was going faster than I would normally start a run. I ran a lot of this race in the 9’s and 8’s. I actually caught up to the same woman I paced at the Run for New Life and I was able to keep up with her for a while. About half way through the race, I couldn’t keep up with her anymore and I was having trouble keeping my breathing under control so I took the first of a few walking breaks. I think because I took off faster than I normally would and ran the actual race like a rocket, I needed breaks to catch up with myself. However, because my running parts were fast, it averaged my pace pretty good. Near the end of the race, we had to cross a busy street to get to the finish line. There were cops on either side keeping traffic stopped so that we runners could safely make it across the street. There was a group of a few runners, a gap, and then me. As I crossed the median of the road, I caught a glimpse of something approaching me in my peripheral vision. Yup, the awesome cop let a couple of cars go through and I was forced to a dead stop in order to avoid being hit. Ugh! I was not pleased. And, because I was so freaked out by it, my heart was pounding which made it hard to regulate my breathing and I had to walk for a bit after I crossed the street. I was so close to the finish, it was like a tease but I knew I needed to calm down as quickly as I could before I could run to the finish. After what seemed like forever, I started running again and my running quickly turned into an insane sprint (pace during the fastest part of my sprint was 4:28; holy shit!) that I kept up until the finish. I passed a handful of people on my way to the finish line and I’m sure they were wondering wtf I was doing at such a low-key 5K but I didn’t care. As I got close to the finish, I saw a glimpse of the clock and “29:XX” was lit up in bright red. One of my goals right now is to run a sub-30 5K race, unfortunately, this wasn’t that race, though I was very close to doing so. I ended up crossing in 30:08 making my average pace of 9:43. Not bad for as many walking breaks as I took and having to come to a dead stop for the cars to pass. I got a ticket with a number on it after I crossed and had to fill it out with my name, age and sex. I took a few minutes to regulate my breathing before I even thought about my card and, even with that mini cool down, it was still hard for me to write. I was shaky and it was quite a chore to write. Good thing my name isn’t super long or I would have been in trouble. 😉
Because I had pushed myself so hard, I felt like shit when I was done. My stomach was doing flip flops and it took several minutes for my innards to calm down. I tried to get my mind off of how crappy I felt by talking to my husband and the boys but it didn’t always work. When I finally felt like I wasn’t going to lose my cookies, we made our way toward the cafeteria area. They had some trays set out on picnic tables outside with quartered bagels of various flavours and some orange wedges and a couple of those Gatorade keg things (lol) though I’m sure not what they had in them because I had my own water. The stroller was too big to fit through the doors to the cafeteria and we didn’t feel like taking it apart so my husband sat outside with our youngest while I went inside with our oldest to warm up a bit. Big mistake. When I headed back outside, I was even colder and found it impossible to warm up. I was more than ready to go home but we stuck around for the awards ceremony just in case. We had to wait for them to do the 1 mile fun run and for the race results to be ready before they started the awards ceremony and that was probably a good hour or more after I had crossed the finish line. I know it was my own fault for not thinking about how cold we would be post-race but I had had more than enough and debated leaving more than once. Being cold and tired isn’t a good combination. However, I’m glad we stuck around because I ended up taking 3rd in my age group. 🙂 My first bling was a small towel with the race info on it, which I thought was a little strange but whatever, I got some bling! haha!! Although, technically this isn’t my first age group win. I also won 1st in my age group at the Run for New Life and my prize was a 1 month free membership at Gold’s gym, which I haven’t taken advantage of yet. Will probably do that after my half marathon. 😉
After walking up to get my award, I didn’t bother sitting back down and headed straight for the doors. I was more than ready to go home and take a hot shower and I knew my husband was ready to go home as he hadn’t slept yet (he’s working midnights so he’s nocturnal right now). The walk home seemed to take forever but we finally made it and, after the initial burn of the water hitting my frigid skin, the shower was exactly what I needed. Ahhhh!
The official race results were available online a couple of days later and I immediately started kicking myself for taking so many walking breaks and not pushing myself harder to keep running. Usually, I’m miles away from placing in races but I missed placing 1st in my AG by 48 seconds. I realize 48 seconds is a lifetime in sports but to be that close when usually there are several minutes that separate me from those who place in my AG, I couldn’t help but get into the “what if’s” in my mind. I got even more upset with myself when I saw that 2nd place went to someone who crossed 9 seconds before me. NINE! Gah!!!! That one was definitely attainable! I blamed myself for walking and I blamed the cop for making a stupid decision to let those cars go through forcing me to stop dead in my tracks. It’s not like the award was any different, we all got towels, it was just my competitive perfectionist side beating me up for being less than perfect and not getting something I had a chance of getting. Of course, I felt like an idiot and I finally stopped tormenting myself when when I realized there were only three runners in my age group. My placement suddenly meant less to me because I would have placed no matter what and I didn’t really “beat” anyone. That’s probably hard for people to understand but I’m hoping fellow runners know what I’m talking about.
While I am proud of my accomplishments and the progress I’ve made in my running over the last few months, I’m having a hard time still being one of the “slow” runners. Mostly because I’ve tasted what it feels like to place in my age group and I have high expectations of myself (that can be such a flaw at times!). My mind is ready for me to be a fast runner but my body hasn’t quite caught up. Building a base takes times and I know I’m being impatient with that process. I’m sure fellow runners understand that! Basically it sucks at time to be a competitive perfectionist but I’ll use what happened as motivation for my next 5K in a couple of weeks. I’m sure there will be a far bigger crowd at my next 5K but I hope that sub-30 finish will be mine!