I’m definitely more a distance person. In fact, I don’t feel like I’m warmed up until at least mile 4, and I don’t really hit my groove until miles 8 – 10.
I prefer the challenge of seeing how far and how long I can endure – more of a dull discomfort over a longer period of time. Lately, though, I’ve been enjoying the challenge of pushing the pace – more intense discomfort for a shorter period of time.
Saturday, I ran my first 5k since January of last year, the 1st Annual Dublin Sells Middle School 5k. In Octover, my husband took over for one of the school’s most beloved and respected teachers. Ken Kaiser has been fighting pancreatic cancer for 14 months now. He has overcome the 20% 1-year survival odds, and has set his sights on becoming one of the 6% who survive 5 years. He’s turned his diagnosis into a positive, and has shown his students and the Dublin community what character truly means – what it means to persevere in the face of fear, to stay positive, to draw strength from others, and that we are never alone in our battles.
This race was in Mr. Kaiser’s honor, and I’m so glad I could be a part of it.
I’ve never truly raced a 5k, and I had my eye on a big, fat PR. Considering my 5k PR was set in October of 2010, before I even called myself a runner, I was guaranteed a PR, barring a major (and I’m talking MAJOR) catastrophe.
I went into thinking I’d be happy with anything under 30 minutes, but knew deep down I was capable of much more than that. The Huz and I arrived early to pick up our packets and get a decent warm-up in. The race started on the track, so we did a half-mile warm up on the track. I’d have liked to do a full mile, but Huz was satisfied so we called it good.
The weather was perfect for running fast – mid 40s and brisk. My first mile ticked by in 8:15 – pretty darn fast for me, but it felt good. I wouldn’t say it felt easy, but I was far from running all out. Just after the first mile, I got a stomach cramp - a minor one, but it was there nonetheless. Pushing on it made it go away, so I ran the next mile with one hand dug into my side.
The course was out and back, and I started seeing the first few runners around 1.25 miles. I kept a close eye out for women – I knew I wasn’t the first woman, but I knew I was darn close. I spotted two girls, both middle schoolers, but no adult women. Of course, my competitive side took over at that point.
Just before the turnaround, I spotted a girl ahead of me. She was just close enough that I knew I could catch her. I waited until mile marker 2, then bore down. As I evened up with her, she dug in harder and gave me a run for my money. We ran even for about a minute, when I kicked it into another gear and passed her.
At first, I though that maybe I had kicked too soon and thought for sure that she would overtake me again before the finish. I spent the last mile glancing behind me only to realize she was farther and farther behind. At this point, I was hurting and felt vaguely like I might puke, but I was less than a mile from the finish, so there was no easing up now.
As I reentered the track, with less than 1 lap to the finish, I tried to turn it on, but I was hurting. I held my pace until I rounded the last corner and saw the clock – it had just ticked to 24:00, and knowing that I could come in under 25 minute was just the incentive to ignore the pain and turn on the after burners one last time.
I blazed across the finish in 24 minutes and 28 seconds.
I ran mile 3 in 7:47..!?!
As I crossed, I felt a lot like death, and a woman asked me how old I was. I somehow croaked out “27!”, and she handed me a medal. In my post-race stupor, I wondered what it was for, but didn’t have the energy to ask, so I just threw it around my neck.
A few minutes later, as the Huz crossed the finish line, I realized that I had won my age group!
When I checked the results later, I found that not only did I win my age group, but I was the third overall female!
Yep, that’s meeeee! And yes, I got smoked by two 12-year-olds.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure I’d ever win anything in a race - had this one been bigger, I wouldn’t have. But, I don’t care!!! I was (and still am!) so excited about this race. While the last mile was difficult, and I felt like death, within minutes of finishing, I felt GREAT – this tells me one thing…
Next time, I’ll push even harder.