If you’ve read my blog at all up to this point, you know that I’ve spent the past nine weeks training for my first 5K. I chose to use the Couch-to-5K training program to guide my preparation because I liked that it gave me the option of running by minutes rather than distances. It also seemed appropriate given that my training began a week after I had spent three weeks traveling in Scotland (i.e.: not exercising). Though I’ve loved and hated the Couch-to-5K training program, I have to say that it more than paid off in the end. More on that in a second 😉
The race I decided to run as my first 5K was really only a kind-of 5K. The 5K was part of a larger sprint triathlon. Participants have the option of running just the 5K or doing the full-blown 500-yard swim, 10-mile bike ride and 5K run. Since this was my first endurance sport event ever, I opted to just run the 5K.
My brother (who ran the 5K as well) and I got to the race about an hour and a half before the 5K started. After getting our bibs, we headed down to the start of the race. It was around this point that we realized we were not exactly in good company. While there were just shy of 400 total participants, only 48 of us were running just the 5K. Not gonna lie: I felt a bit out of place among all those hardcore athletes. I’ve fallen so in love with active sports, though, that my feeling of awkwardness was way outweighed by my giddiness at being surrounded by so many athletes.
We watched the first few waves of the triathlon begin before the 5K runners were called to the starting line for the run. They wanted us to start our run a few minutes before the first triathletes returned from the bike leg so that we wouldn’t be too caught up with them. We probably waited around for fifteen minutes or so before the air horn was blown and we were off.
Funny realization: I had spent so much time getting excited about the fact that this was my first 5K that I completely forgot that it wasn’t my first race ever. I ran cross country for two years in middle school (really more like run/walked cross country for two years, emphasis on the walk…haha), so I had probably run ten or so races prior to yesterday’s 5K. I realized about 25 yards into the run that everything felt very familiar before remembering that little detail!
The course ended up not being as hilly as I had feared it would be, which was delightful. The first quarter mile or so was all uphill, followed by a brief flat portion. After that, most of the run was up and down, but in a relatively gentle way. There were several long hills, but the incline was gentle enough that I really didn’t mind them.
Originally I planned on wearing my watch just for the sake of immediately knowing my time, but when I hit the one mile mark I couldn’t help but check: 9:26. That was a bit slower than I wanted to be running, so I picked up the pace a little. I managed to keep up that quicker pace for the entire second mile and hit mile two at 18:17. Even though I was really happy with that time, I really kicked it in gear for the last 1.1 miles. The course was an out-and-back type of run, so at mile two I knew exactly what I had left: one extended hill and one short but steepish hill. The rest of the course was either flat or downhill. Knowing this and being able to visualize exactly what came next (and the huge rush of adrenaline I got around this point) really sped me up. I got to the three mile mark at exactly 26:00, which thrilled me. Though my original goal had been to run the race in 25:59 or less, I later modified that to running the race in 29:59 or less. Obviously clocking in at mile three at 26:00 had me well on target to smash my goal. I didn’t really have anyone around me as I approached the finish line, which kept me from doing much of a finishing kick. I honestly didn’t even notice the clock by the finish line and I forgot to stop my watch, so I had no clue what my final time was as I stumbled over to the water table.
I chatted for awhile with my brother and parents while refueling after the race (he had finished long before I did) when the announced that the 5K results had been posted. My brother and I made a beeline for the results. My final time: 26:55, for an 8:40 pace. That was definitely better than I expected/hoped to do, so that alone thrilled me. The fact that the race was so small also worked in my favor. When I originally discussed my goals, I mentioned a few things. I wanted to:
#1: finish without walking (check)
#3: finish with a better time than my sister (oh, heck yes CHECK)
#2: finish anything but last in my age group…
Folks, I am proud to announce that not only did I accomplish goal #2, I demolished it. I WAY more than finished anything but last. In fact, I finished first in my age group. Granted, there were only two other runners in my age group, but that’s beside the point. The point is I won my age group in my first 5K ever, and I have a shiny gold medal to prove it. Proud doesn’t even begin to cover it 😀
Since the most important part of racing is the post-race indulgence (obviously), I made sure to reward myself quite thoroughly yesterday. Frozen hot chocolate, BBQ bacon cheeseburger, ice cream cone…it was a good day. I should definitely start racing more often 😉
What’s a moment that you’re proud of?
What’s your favorite post-race indulgence?