Let’s rewind. A few weeks ago a couple of my friends invited me to run a local 5k with them. I was hesitant at first since the race fell the week before my half marathon. I didn’t want to sway from my training or get injured but I’d never run a 5k and reading about the race’s cause really spoke to me, so I threw caution to the wind and registered.
*The race was organized by the family of two young men who were killed by a drunk driver while crossing the street. They were local men who were my age at the time of their death. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been crossing the street in broad daylight, on a crosswalk, with both kids and someone has flown by in their haste to get somewhere, completely oblivious to me and the double stroller 2 feet from their front bumper. It’s a very real threat for pedestrians.*
Race morning I was up to the sound of Andrew wiggling in his pack n play at 3:45am. We’d just been up 3 hour earlier to feed so I laid there listening for a bit to see if he’d settle himself. He eventually did but the longer I waited the more awake I felt. I decided to get up and take my time getting ready instead of trying to go back to bed which I knew I’d be restless doing on race morning.
I made some coffee, pumped and laid on the couch reading. It was really relaxing, which is rare these days. At about 5:30 I made 2 pieces of Trader Joes sprouted bread with crunchy pb and had it with some water. Around 6 Bry came in with Andrew. That kid is the cutest. He looks around curiously, looking especially tiny in daddy’s big arms and when he sees my face he smiles and almost falls over he gets so excited. He melts me.
I spent the next hour and a half helping Bry with the boys and getting dressed. I wore my usual go-to long run outfit: old navy shorts, reebox tank, champion sports bra and my new brooks ghost 7s. It was 50 degrees and raining still so I threw on my brooks running jacket at the last minute. Because my hair is so short I’ve been wearing it in tiny pigtails with my favorite janji running headband <—- (amazing organization) and lots of bobby pins. I filled a smart water bottle with 2 scoops of ultima replenisher and 1/3 scoop of spark and headed out.
The race was really small. The only other races I’ve run were both 20,000+ people. This one had 138 runners. It’d been raining all night and while it was still raining it wasn’t nearly as heavy. I met up with my friends. We chatted, waiting for the start while I drank half my bottle of water. At 8:25 we walked over to the start line. I decided to keep my jacket on, namely because I didn’t want to walk back to my car through the rain. Even with it on, my teeth were chattering as we stood waiting. My biggest fear was tripping because the ground was so wet and slippery from the rain.
At 8:30 on the dot, the countdown began and we were off. I started towards the front but there were 5 women ahead of me. My game plan was to just run comfortably but not push myself too hard because of my half marathon the following weekend. I kept a decent clip and started passing a few people. Before I knew it I was the third female. My goal then became to finish top 3rd female overall. I kept running and my spibelt began riding up, pulling my tank top with it. I’d never had this problem through all my long runs but was glad it was happening on the 5k and not the half. I only wore it because I needed a place to carry my keys and hadn’t planned to run in my jacket.
I spent a lot of the first mile adjusting the belt. By 1/4mi in I’d passed all the females in front of me and heard spectators on the course yelling “First female!!! Go first woman!!!” I couldn’t believe that was me!! I kept chugging along.
The course is a loop, which is the only downside of it. You have to make two turnarounds and end up passing the finish line twice before the end. Mentally, it’s hard to do but because of the loop you pass other people on the course quite often which makes the spectatorship seem double. I passed the finish line for the first time, grabbed some water from a spectator which I ended up pouring 90% of down my shirt (but it was raining anyway) and headed up the long, endless hill. I run the trail next to the course quite often but the elevations on it are much different. Because the race course is run on the road, it’s elevation changes are less frequent and abrupt which was a nice surprise. The last segment to the final turn around is at about 2.5 miles and the largest hill to climb. I felt myself really starting to fade and was thankful for the cold that made my legs numb.
I made the final turnaround at what felt like a snail’s crawl and kicked up the pace since the end is more of a downhill. I saw the 2nd female and vowed to keep going and not let her pass me, no matter what. This was my first and most likely only chance to ever come in first female at a race. I couldn’t give up now! But I wanted to. My body was begging me to just walk. That little voice in my head started telling me to just stop, it’d be so easy. But I didn’t give in. I kept telling myself I could do it. I just had to keep it up for less than a mile. Less than 10 minutes. If I kept going I’d be so proud, my boys would be so proud! The faster I ran, the quicker I got back home to them. It was what I needed to keep pushing through.
I worked hard this training cycle and gave it my all. I ran through so many sleepless nights and endless feedings, the constant desire to take just one more rest day and the ache of pushing a double stroller for the majority of it. But I pushed through and it paid off.
I passed my friends right at the end who told me just what I needed to hear as I was wishing I had some sugar, had eaten more recently, something cause my energy was fading fast. “You’ve got this. The next girl is way back there.” I smiled, replied “I hope so! Let’s see if I can keep it up” and kept going. As I passed the last group of spectators they cheered loudly and I saw the clock on the finish line about a hundred yards ahead. It read 23:**. I was in disbelief and knew I could come in sub-24 if I pushed it. I pumped my arms in fast succession and my legs obediently followed (Thank you, legs). And just like that I finished my first 5k, first female overall in 23:52 at an average pace of 7:35.
I never knew I could run that fast. It was the fastest mile average I’ve ever run for even a mile straight. It made me realize I am stronger than I think and that all I need in order to succeed is belief in myself. Positive motivation got me to that finish line and I am proud of how far I’ve come as a runner, even in my mental ability to push myself.
I was numb and cold at the end. I felt like I was in a daze as I walked back to the start line where the post race festivities were, and more importantly the food! I cheered on my girlfriends as they came in to the finish, each finishing strong and one even PRing.
I won a $75 gift card which was awesome!, got pictures taken with the Hulk, Minnie Mouse and Big Bird and realized I could never run another 5k again because there’s no way I could compete with my first. Then I soggily walked back to my car, drenched and freezing and hoping I wouldn’t get sick before my half in 6 days, cranked up the heat and drove home to my little family.
It was a great day and a great experience full of so many surprises. I’m proud of myself and my abilities, of my training and hard work and excited to see what race day will bring at my 2nd half marathon. Here I come!