This was the race that almost didn’t happen. I’ve known about this race for awhile now – their ad kept popping up in my Gmail but I just wasn’t sure I was ready to commit to it so soon after the half. But, I kept the idea of running it in the back of my mind, and if I felt up to it (and the weather cooperated) on race day, I would go ahead and do it.
All last week, I tentatively planned on running this race. Up until Friday afternoon, it was set in my mind. But, then I got an expected phone call: my father-in-law had had a heart attack and was in the hospital. Luckily, they were able to stop the heart attack while it was happening and is doing just fine now (he actually came home from the hospital yesterday afternoon). Matt was really upset about it all Friday night and I wanted him to get the chance to sleep in and relax on Saturday morning without having to worry about MacKenna or going to a race.
After waking up Saturday morning and continuing to debate whether or not I should run, I finally decided that I would go get ready for the race and race with the jogging stroller – MacKenna’s first race! That way, I could still do the race and Matt could have the morning to just chill by himself. I got MacKenna + myself ready to go and let Matt know we were going, but first I needed to stop by the gas station to put some air in the stroller tires. It’s been getting really hard to push it lately and I figured this might help a bit.
I was able to pump up the first 2 tires successfully, but when I got to the last tire, I couldn’t put air in it. At all. Either the seal was messed up or I needed a new tube (I have no idea what either of those mean – I am obviously NOT a cyclist). Well, crap. I called Matt and let him know that I was no longer going to the race and was heading to the gym instead to get a run in on the treadmill since I obviously couldn’t push the stroller.
Being the stellar, amazing husband that he is, he told me to come home and bring him MacKenna so that I could go to the race. I argued with him for a few minutes – my whole reason for wanting to do the race was so that he could have some time to sleep in – but he insisted that I go. Seriously, is he not just awesome?!
After dropping off MacKenna and my now out-of-commission jogging stroller (*tear*) at home, I headed out to the local community college for the race. I got there with about 30 minutes to spare before registration closed. I then went and warmed up with a nice 15 minute jog – although I had to keep reminding myself to slow down since it was just a warmup.
I made my way to the starting line and watched the end of the 10K race. This was the first year they had the 5K (it’s usually just a 10K + fun run) and I’m not sure why they decided to separate the 2 races. They were completely different courses, but I think it would’ve made everything much easier had they just run everyone together.
Since I registered the day of the race, I had an idea of how many people were racing since I had one of the last bibs – #289. Only 300 people? I could totally win this race – or at least place in my age group. I scoped out my competition and saw a few ladies that I figured might be pretty fast – a younger girl with adorable Nike racing flats, a woman with some amazing arms and her tri gear on, and a girl maybe a little older than me, who was totally built like a fast runner and was wearing a racing singlet from the local running store. I knew she was my main competition.
We waited at the starting line for an ungodly long time, but I didn’t have my watch or phone so I had no idea what time it was. They wanted to finish the fun run before starting the 5K. At this point, it had been almost an hour since I had warmed up and I was starting to worry that my legs were getting cold again. The gun finally went off about 15 minutes (from what I could tell) behind schedule. I started toward the front with my main competition girl next to me, but she took off right away and I just couldn’t keep up with her. So, I decided to just start picking people off. The course was a loop that we would do twice around the campus. I absolutely hate loops, but I think this time, knowing what I would be running the second loop was in my favor.
Not having my watch or phone meant that I was running the race completely by feel instead of obsessing about my pace. Instead of trying to run this for time, I was going to run it for a finishing place. With it being so small, I knew I could at least place in my age group, if not finish in the top 3. I also wanted to use the race as a way to gauge my fitness level. I knew I wasn’t going to PR (my PR is a 19:58), so I didn’t really need to worry about my time so much. Whatever my time was/is, I would at least know where my starting point is and how far off I am from that 19:58.
I passed several people within the first mile and found a comfortably fast pace with “my girl” in sight the whole time. We got to a point in the course where you were supposed to make a wide turn in the parking lot. However, when I looked up at the girl I was trying to catch, she had cut straight through while following a guy in front of her. It was a complete accident on her parte, but it probably shaved a good 5 seconds off the course. Those 5 seconds were going to make it much harder to catch up to her, but I didn’t let that phase me. She was still a good 50 yards ahead of me, but I knew that if I picked up my pace on the second lap, I could maybe, just maybe catch up to her.
Like I said, doing 2 loops was definitely helpful because I knew exactly where the hills were, how far I was from the finish, and where I needed to start my surge. But, that also meant we would start lapping people, which meant dodging around walkers and running on the grass instead of on the very narrow sidewalk at times. But, with every step, I was getting closer and closer to “my girl”. At one point, I passed her fiance and he started yelling at her that I was catching her. He apologized to me, but I’m pretty sure I would have done the same thing in that situation!
As we came down the last stretch, she was only a few strides ahead of me. I gave it my all to sprint toward the finish and try to catch and pass her, but she out kicked me in the end and beat me by about 2 seconds. I’d like to think that had she not cut off part of the course, I would have been able to beat her in the end, but I guess we’ll never know. But, I’d say second place overall (1st in my age group) isn’t too bad for someone who just had a baby 6 months ago!
So, what was my time, you ask? Well, since I didn’t have a watch and there were no clocks on the course, I had no idea what my finishing time was. I went to the awards ceremony, hoping I would maybe be able to find out my time, but they were apparently having some issues with the timing and didn’t have the results of the 5K over an hour after the race had finished. I stayed around long enough for them to announce the male + female winners (the only results they had). While I know the female winner ran a 20:59, I am still waiting for the official results online. I can only guesstimate that my time was right around 21 minutes – a time that I am thrilled about! It’s faster than the last 5K I ran in November 2010, after running the Chicago Marathon. I might not be in sub-20 shape, but I am hopeful that I can and will get there again!
And to think, I almost didn’t run this race at all…