girls on the run st. louis 5K

After I finished the Chicago Marathon, I knew I needed another goal to help me see the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of marathon recovery.  [Typical recovery from 26.2 miles is said to be equivalent to 1 day for every mile run.]  I gave myself 5 weeks to recover:  1 week right after the marathon with very little, light running, and then 4 weeks of progressive training, with each week getting a little harder.  [Check out Hal Higdon’s Marathon Recovery to view what I used to recover from Chicago.] 

This meant I needed wanted  a race to do at the end of those 5 weeks.  My original plan was to run the Run to the Lights 5K in Branson, MO, which was a 10 PM race running the streets of Silver Dollar City on the opening weekend of their Christmas festival.  The Hubs and I have been dying to do this race, but by the time I went to sign up, it was already full.  Boo.

So, I was in search of a new race, and luckily, I already had one in mind for the weekend of November 13:  the Girls on the Run St. Louis 5KGirls on the Run is an after-school running group for 3rd through 8th grade girls where they meet up not only to run, but to learn things about self-esteem, responsibility, and overall well-being.  Some of my 5th grade girls are part of this fabulous organization, so I wanted to show them my support as they ran their 5K.

I picked up my race packet the night before, and actually had to take my D-tag from Chicago off my shoe. :o(  But, the shirt + water bottle make up for that!

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Fortunately, the race didn’t start until 9 AM this morning, so I had plenty of time to sleep in and head down to Forest Park for the race.  I ate a banana + peanut butter [I can’t decide if I’m a fan of Trader Joe’s Valencia PB… it’s a little too savory tasting for me – I like my PB SWEET!] before leaving so I would have plenty of energy for the race.

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Since I am still technically recovering from Chicago [believe me, I feel 100x better than I did 5 weeks ago], I didn’t want to go all out for this race.  When it comes to racing, I have an all or nothing mindset.  “Why would I enter a race if I didn’t have a chance to PR or win?”  I usually enter small races because I know I can finish well in them, but with 5,000 people running this one, winning wasn’t going to be happening.  So, instead, I wanted to go out, have a good time, and race comfortably… push myself, but not KILL myself.

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I moved my way up to the front of the pack, just behind the elite runners – anyone planning to run under 20 minutes, and although I’ve just barely broken 20 minutes before, I knew it wasn’t going to happen today.

When the gun went off, I settled in to a comfortable pace – something I knew I could keep for 3.1 miles.  I ran my first mile at a 7:10 pace, way faster than what I felt like, but I was happy.  I passed a couple people and finally caught up to a sweet little girl decked out in all pink at about the half way point.  We ended up running the rest of the way together, as I gave her some encouragement along the way.

All of a sudden, it wasn’t about time or medaling anymore.  I ran the last half of the race with a huge smile on my face!  It felt amazing to be pushing and encouraging this girl I didn’t know.  At the 2 mile, this tiny little girl and her dad flew past us.  I encouraged my girl to keep up with her, but she stayed along side me, right on their heels the rest of the race.

Once I saw the finish, I told her to pick it up and go.  We sprinted the last 0.1 in together and I gave her a pat on the back.  I didn’t even know her name, but I still felt… I don’t know… empowered?  I guess.  It just felt good to be helping her along the way, and she thanked me for pushing her.  It was an amazing feeling of accomplishment, even though I didn’t PR [I ran a 22:28, which I am so happy with] and missed placing in my age group [I was 4th].

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Overall, it was an awesome race!  I LOVED the signs along the way… “You are strong!”, “You are responsible!”, and my favorite, “You don’t have to brush all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep!”  Ha!  I will definitely be doing this race again, and hopefully dragging some people to run it with me to support this amazing organization!

Sidenote:  You can support Girls on the Run by donating your time as a coach or money to go toward the school of your choice.  Or become a Solemate!  Raise money for GOTR as you train for your next race – I plan on becoming a Sole Mate for the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon in April – plus, you get a discounted entry fee!