Last Wednesday I sat on my couch enjoy the runner’s high I had earned on an 18 mile training run that morning. I got a message from my friend Lesleyanne (The Beachy Runner) asking if I was running the Race for Breath 5k on Saturday.
• A Race for Breath? Isn’t my name Breath of Sunshine? I was meant to run this race.
• For the first time in a long time, I didn’t have a long run scheduled this weekend. I had just finished it for the week.
• I know I need more race experience.
• I have never run a 5k, so why not.
I hopped online and registered.
Friday afternoon my coach called to give me some pointers on how to run a 5k. Having zero race experience at this distance, I needed all the help I could get. I didn’t want to get stuck in my marathon stride for only 3 miles. If I got to the finish line feeling like I should run 23 more miles, I knew I’d be pissed at myself. During our conversation, he asked what I really wanted during the race. I very meekly answered by suggesting that I’d love to see a 7 on my watch for one mile.
My race strategy became run like hell.
Race morning I warmed up. I stretched my hip. I found Lesleyanne, and we lined up a few rows of people behind the start line. Off we went.
I knew I needed to go out hard. I need to get my hips open. Lesleyanne is a faster runner than me so I let her pull me out to the front of the pack. I quickly fell into a rhythm. I was running stride for stride with two other women: red shirt girl and blonde ponytail. (That’s what I named them during the race.)
Blonde pony tail quickly took the lead in our pack of three. She pulled ahead. At the turn around point, she was well ahead of red shirt girl and me. Red shirt girl and I kept going back and forth. She would pull ahead. I’d catch up. I’d pull ahead. She’d catch up. She was a strong runner, and I kept telling myself if I could stay with her I would finish proud. Around mile 2 we both passed Blonde pony tail. Red shirt girl was slowly pulling away from me, but blonde pony tail never got back in the mix.
On the verge of feeling like death, I caught sight of the mile 3 marker. With only 3.1 miles on the course, I knew I had to pull out everything I had left. I focused on my arm movement and passed red shirt girl in the final stretch.
I crossed the finish line just under 25 minutes. A sub 25 minute 5k. Once I collected myself, I couldn’t stop smiling.
Christian and Chet were waiting for me. Lesleyanne waited for me too. This was the first race I’ve ever run were I didn’t have the energy to smile and wave to them as I made my way to the finish line. All 3 miles hurt, and I loved every second of it.
Being in a scenario where I was actually racing the runners around me changed my mindset during my run too. I was unaware of my pace. There was no time for thinking. It was all about doing and moving forward. It was about staying in the mix.
I’m hooked. It was a completely different experience from running long distance, and I loved it. I loved the energy of the race. I love the constant push.
Finish time 24:50
7:57 pace garmin time (7:59 race clock)
4th female out of 74 in my age group (30-39)
10th female overall (275+ females)
After the race, I met Red shirt girl. She approached me to thank me for the race. And (gasp!) she said she tried to stay with me the whole race bc I was a strong runner. Never in my life did I think (or do I think) those words would (do) apply to me. It’s perhaps one of the best compliments I could receive especially from someone I paced myself off of because I could tell she was a strong runner. I know not all competition is friendly, but I loved racing with these ladies. I also love that we could celebrate each other post race.
Lesleyanne finished the race with a 2nd place age group win too!
This race, the momentum I’m building, are all lining up perfectly. This race showed me that I can fight for what I want. I have a competitive fire inside me. I can actually run. I very timidly wanted a 7 minute mile during my race. I finished with a 7:57 paced 5k.
Tomorrow I run my last long training run before Richmond: 20 miles.
13 days until race day.