October 4, 2010

First 5K Race Recap

On Saturday, I RAN my first 5K! In May, I started running and blogging with the goals of getting in shape and eventually running a 5K. I’m so happy (and relieved) to say that I accomplished my goals and didn’t flake out. For my first race, I wanted to run the whole distance without walking and not finish last. I accomplished those goals too! I ran all the way, and I finished fourth in my age group. (89th out of 157) My official time that's posted in online results is 32:31, but I distinctly remember watching the clock roll over to 34 minutes right before I got to the finish line, so I don't think that's right. My unofficial time, according to Nike+, was 34:18, and seems closer to accurate. Either way, I’m happy with the way things turned out.
The race started at 8 a.m., and Trea and I got up around 6:00 so we would have time to eat and warm up. I postponed my daily gallon of coffee until after the race and opted instead for some water with Nuun and toast with peanut butter and jelly. I had a few sport beans with caffeine about 30 minutes before the race started, which always provide a little pick-me-up. When we left for the race, it was about 47 degrees outside, and I knew it wouldn’t warm up too much before the run was over. Unfortunately, I still haven’t bought any cool weather running clothes because just last week it was 80 degrees. So I went out in my tank and short shorts and froze until about mile two. I’m not a strong runner, and I know my energy is limited. I’m not one of those people who jogs three miles to prepare for a 5K. The 5K IS my three-mile jog. My warm up consisted of walking back and forth across a nearby parking lot a couple of times, so I never actually got warm before the race.

RACE LESSON #1: When you can see your breath, wear pants, or at the very least, capris.

When we picked up our goody bags, we got our numbers and our shirts. By chance, my number was 68, which was awesome because my dad used to drive a race car as a weekend hobby, and his number was 68. Any time he has to choose a number for any reason, he almost always chooses 68 because that’s the year he graduated and decided to stop getting older. :) It was just a coincidence, but I was thrilled to see 68 on my bib number.

RACE LESSON #2: Allow a good 10 minutes to pin on a number. It will not be straight the first try.

About 10 minutes before the race started, people were gathered near the starting line. The race director was giving important instructions through a bullhorn, and we couldn't make out a word he said. I checked my phone a noticed we still had about 4 or 5 minutes before the start, so Trea and I just stood around casually talking and not expecting anything to happen for a few more minutes. Then suddenly, a gun went off, and we heard through the bullhorn, "C'mon, let's GO! This is a RACE!" Oops. I started walking through the crowd, fumbling with my phone strapped to my arm trying to get my playlist and Nike+ to cooperate, and we were off!

RACE LESSON #3: Port-o-potties make me gag; avoid. I know this is unrelated to anything I've said so far, but it's an important point to note. Thou shalt not over-hydrate prior to a race. It's not worth the trauma.
Trea took off (too fast) at the start and I lost sight of him after the first few minutes. I found a comfortable pace and stuck with it. And tried to stay out of the way of wild children who would stop and crab-walk in front of me with no warning. And dodging baby joggers plowing through the crowd. The first mile was pretty flat and not challenging at all. The only challenges were the cold and the kiddos. By the time I reached the first water stop, I had warmed up and could feel my hands again. It was chilly, but the sun was bright, and it was a beautiful, clear day. Everyone passed me I finally separated myself from everyone, and I got a kick out of the race workers who were marking the course. There were hardly any spectators, and not a lot of participants, so the course was quiet. There were quite a few turns, so one or two workers/volunteers were at each turn pointing in the direction I needed to go. They would clap and cheer as people passed by, which I wasn't sure how to handle since I was on my own and they were only clapping for me as I passed by. Do I say thank you? Do I wave? Do I avoid eye contact? No, that's rude. I tried to smile or wave because I knew they were cold just standing there, and I was glad for the encouragement.
In mile two was The Hill. I knew it was coming. I drove the course ahead of time and was preparing myself for failure. This stretch contained at least 0.20 miles of steep incline that I fully expected to best me. But I knew I would have to report back to whoever is reading this, and I just couldn't make myself say I gave in and walked. So, thank you, whoever is reading this. Because of you and the beauty of accountability, I ran. By the time I got to the top, muscles were burning that I didn't know I had because I never run hills. My lungs were burning, and my chest was heaving. I could hear the sound of my breathing over my music.

I got a little relief with some flats after The Hill before I got to The Smaller Hill in mile three. I made myself slow down to barely a shuffle so I could recover and make sure I made it to the end. I almost walked on The Smaller Hill, but I again thought of whoever is reading this and persevered. And then I got passed by a woman pushing a baby jogger, which ticked me off, so I persevered harder. After that, I was home free. The rest of the course was mostly flat, and knowing I was almost done gave me a little extra boost. I crossed the finish line a little after the 34 minute mark. I scanned the crowd for Trea, knowing he had already finished and expecting him to be cheering me on. But there was no Trea and no familiar faces. After about a minute or so, I saw him walking from the direction of the car carrying our water bottles. He finished about two minutes ahead of me but had expected me to be farther behind him. He thought he had time to get our Nuun water and get back in time to see me finish. Unfortunately, he missed it, and we were both totally sad and disappointed.

RACE LESSON #4: Don't wander off until all racing companions have crossed the line.

We worked for four months to get to this point, and we both crossed the finish line separately and neither of us could cheer on the other. During all of our training, we've been at different levels and different speeds. We do everything else together, and we're running together as much as we can. But pretty much we just start at the same time and meet up again when we're done. I depend on Trea for a lot of things, and he depends on me. We rarely do anything without one another. And even though I was sad that he wasn't there at the end, it's kind of cool to know I did this on my own. I made it all the way, all by myself, and my legs didn't fail me.

My average pace: 11:03
Mile 1 - 10:18
Mile 2 - 11:25
Mile 3 - 11:51

Later that morning, Trea surprised me with a congratulatory cookie cake slice (and cookie taco!!). That's the kind of encouragement I love!


  1. Seriously proud of you girl! I am a major couch potato and running-hater. Laps in cheerleading (and stands too) used to make me fall out until our sponsor let us run the straights and walk the curves. Yay for lazy people. You are such an inspiration! Unfortunately it will probably not inspire me QUITE enough to get off the couch ;)

  2. Hey Anna, thanks for finding my blog. I'm sorry to tell you that I was probably the lady with the jog stroller that passed you in the literacy 5K. I was pushing my niece for my sister who is just getting back into running. We kicked it up for the last two miles mainly because my niece had to go potty. Stick with the racing and do come join us at the Rush Running workouts. You'll get lots of support and motivation at our group workouts. No one is too slow...my 5K's range from 28 min to 33 min when I'm pushing the jog stroller so you will easily fit in!

  3. Great job on your race. :) I love your sense of humor ... it's more important than speed, hands down. I think you had a TERRIFIC first 5k and you should be so, so proud! Not everyone can run for 3 miles straight, let alone for 30+ minutes! You only have reasons to pat yourself on the back!

    Although, I do have to warn you: it's all downhill from here.... you'll be training for your first marathon in no time. :P




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