For the last couple of years, when I woke up on Thanksgiving morning my Facebook newsfeed had been full of photos of my friends running races. While flipping through the program at a baseball game in September, I saw an ad for the Drumstick Dash. It was a little more than 5 weeks away, and Aaron (my husband) said, “You know, you can train for a 5K in eight weeks for just 30-45 minutes three times per week.” For some reason, it just seemed silly not to do it.
So, the next day I downloaded the 5K Runner app for my iPhone and got started. It was tough (and I’ll probably write more about the training in another post), but I finished and had run 5K twice before race day.
I’ve never attended a race, even as a spectator. Aaron decided at the last minute to run it as well, so at least I wasn’t completely alone. I also dragged my mom and dad along to see me finish. There were people everywhere (over 3,000 people ran this race). Some were dressed up in crazy costumes, most were in normal running clothes, and some looked like they hadn’t run a day in their life.
We got there way too early, and just stayed in the car awhile to keep warm (it was about 25 degrees outside). We got out of the car at 8:00, made a quick stop inside the ballpark for a bathroom break, and then headed towards the starting line. There was music blasting, and there were some wooden cutouts to take pictures in. Aaron and I posed, but for some reason he refused to smile.
Then the announcer asked people to start moving towards the finish line. We did as we were told, and ended up pretty close to the front. This wasn’t exactly where I planned to be, but there were even people with strollers up there, so I didn’t think it would be that much of a stampede when we started. Someone sang the national anthem (I definitely wasn’t expecting that) and then we were off!
I started off way to fast. We were running down a small hill, and everyone seemed to be gunning it. I am not a fast runner, so I tried to slow myself down. Less than half a mile into the course we went up a hill that I had been dreading since the route was announced, and that definitely slowed me down. I even had to stop and walk for a bit (maybe 30 seconds). Then I started running again, but the downhill area was full of snow, so I had to step very carefully. A woman running while pushing a walker (seriously, a walker—like for old people) passed me at this point.
I ran pretty well for a straight stretch of road, and even passed a few people. Then we rounded the corner and went up another (small) hill to get over an overpass. I think I walked a little there too, but started running again as soon as we were up at the top.
I had recently started using Nike+ on my phone to track my runs, and by this point I was past the first mile marker and could tell that the course was longer than what Nike+ was telling me. I feel like this threw me off mentally. According to Nike+, my pace for the first mile was 12:19 (much faster than I normally run), and I couldn’t sustain that. I ran/walked for most of the rest of the course. After passing the 2 mile marker, we ran around a large parking lot. I figured it would be smooth sailing there, but much of the lot was snow covered. I’d never run in those conditions, so I was tentative and walked more than I needed to. By this point I had noticed the two people that I was pacing. One was a woman my mom’s age that was speed walking the entire race, and another was a woman that probably weighed about 250 pounds that was running the entire time at a slow, steady pace. I would keep passing and then getting passed by these two women because I couldn’t maintain a consistent time. You can see how much my pace varied in this cool graph from the Nike+ app.
We crossed over the second-to-last hill of the course (another bridge), and I could see the finish line (although there was a short out and back before I would get there. When I rounded the corner of TGI Fridays, my app told me I was done, with a new personal record…but I had not even made it to the 3 mile marker yet. My mom and Aaron were there, and mom took a picture while I was running.
From there I had to do a short out and back (probably about .3 miles total) before the race was over. It was flat, but icy and snow covered. I was tired, and didn’t feel safe, so I stopped to walk again. I’m glad I did, because I slipped twice and was able to catch myself. When the sidewalk cleared I started running again and made the last turn for the finish line.
I saw Aaron up ahead, he was ready to run with me at the end so I didn’t stop. I ran the last .2 miles or so, and it was hard. The course ended with an uphill run, and as I made it there, the announcer said, “I love seeing people realize they have to run up a hill to finish.” I wanted to strangle him.
My finish was anti-climactic because there were a bunch of people ahead of me so I couldn’t burst through it. My mom didn’t even see me finish, but she was ready to take a photo when I was done. My state of mind here probably shows pretty well; I was exhausted, yet super happy that I had finished my first race.
Because of the inconsistency with the course and my Nike+ app (as well as Aaron’s GPS app), I kept telling myself that my actual 5K time was much faster than my chip time. Later, I checked with a friend that wore a Garmin during the race and she said the course was 3.13K. So, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that my first 5K time was 44:49. Better than what I had originally sought out to do (run less than 45 minutes), but not as good as I thought I would do based on my last training run before the race. The way I see it, I should improve every race after this!
Speaking of my next race….it will be the Race Into The New Year 5K on December 31. I’m looking forward to an extremely flat course…and hopefully they’ll do some snow and ice removal before the race.