Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Tale of Two 5Ks

Somehow April is almost over and I have already done my first race of the year. Actually, I've already done my first two races. I did the Race for Excellence 5K in Columbia, Maryland two weeks ago and then did the Race Against Racism 5K in York on Saturday. I debated writing two separate race recaps but I waited so long to write the first one that I figured I might as well combine them. What the hell, right?

Race for Excellence 5K
I ran this race with my sister and her boyfriend as a part of one of our friend's company team in the corporate challenge. I had no expectations going into this race as my running has been fairly slow lately and I haven't done any speed work all year. Since I paid to do this race I was going to at least run hard. I hoped I could throw down a solid time that would reveal a little about where my run fitness is right now.

Race morning arrived and it was one of the warmest days we've had all year. It was beautiful out but I was not used to running when it's that warm yet. I did a short warm up jog and was greeted with lead-legs. I noted it and then tried to push the negative thoughts out of my head until the race started. I've had some really good races on tired legs so I knew I couldn't count myself out yet.

Turns out, my legs really didn't want to run a 5K. Or at least a hard one. I struggled from the first step to get my legs to turn over. I pleaded with them, trying to will them to run for just a couple more miles. I felt like crap for the entire race but somehow was still enjoying myself. I think it was being back at a race. The last race I did was in November and the last race I really raced was in September. In all those months I think I forgot how much races hurt. I forgot what it feels like to push through pain.

I ended up finishing in 25:57, which I was pretty happy with considering how bad I felt. My 5K PR is 25:31 so only being ~25 seconds off was certainly good enough for me. After I finished the race I was able to check my splits and see I positive split the race like a champ. Oops.

Mile 1- 8:11
Mile 2- 8:34
Mile 3- 8:16
.1- 8:04 pace

Race Against Racism 5K
This past weekend I ran the Race Against Racism with my Girls On the Run team. It was our end of season 5K and going into the race my only goal was to be there for my girls. None of the girls needed me be their running buddy so I decided to go for it and see what kind of time I could do. We were told parking would be pretty scarce so I ran to the race and used it as my warm up.

The weather for this race was perfect, with temps in the high 40's and mostly cloudy. It made it pretty cold waiting around but I would choose racing in the cold over heat any day. When the race started I tried to hold back a little and keep the first mile comfortable. I think with everything going on with my girls I never had time to stress over the race, and so the whole thing felt really comfortable. I never freaked out about what pace I was running, how heavy my legs felt, the annoying guys who kept cutting in front me around every corner.

I wish I had more to say about this race but to be honest I don't remember all that much from it. My mind was quiet- the gremlins never came out to play. What I can say about this race that is far more important than anything I thought or experienced during the race is that I finally broke my 5K PR. And I'm not talking about what I call my 5K PR that I set a year and a half ago. I'm talking about the PR I set back in high school when I was at the height of my swimming career. Breaking this PR was symbolic of so much for me- breaking free from the person who set that PR and everything I went through between then and now.

Mile 1- 8:08
Mile 2- 7:52
Mile 3- 7:50
.1- 6:54 pace

It's funny how one week an 8:11 mile is going out too fast, and another an 8:08 mile is holding back.  It's also funny, I'm sure only to me but since I'm the writer here just play along, how easy this once elusive time was to achieve. I was on such a running high after finishing that I turned around and started running again in search of some of my girls. I think they were the reason I had such a good race. I wasn't worried about myself or my time until the gun went off. This was not my day to shine. It was theirs. They worked so hard for those twelve weeks. This was their day to celebrate and be the stars.

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