For a few years I have struggled to maintain a consistent pace throughout my training and race season. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been trying to work up to running a sub 27 minute 5k (3.1 mile) race. I made it my main objective to get this under my belt this year. This WAS MY YEAR. I could just feel it in my bones. Training has been going swimmingly for the most part and I was coming close to hitting the mark several times in training and even earned a 2 minute PR in May with 27:24 at the Race to Wrigley. On top of collecting a couple of PR’s in a 10 milers, I have been having a pretty stellar season. I’m the fittest I’ve been since 2010 and I’m stronger and faster.
It’s all been a bit surreal for me to absorb, as well as an emotional ride. Every unbelievable, new time that I raced and obtained has so far rendered me an emotional, sobbing wreck of a woman post race. It’s been a marvelous experience leading up to the race I decided to attempt getting my sub-27 minute time. Let me just preface that when I say sub-27 that I’d be elated with a 26:59.9. In the couple of weeks leading up to the second annual F^3 Burgers and beer 5k, I was nervous about my goals and my runs. I was getting slower as much as I pushed myself, the humidity, or my body’s lack of motivation would slow me down. After a run on a couple of Mondays before the race, I spoke with a couple of teammates, who are much faster than I, and made acquaintances with a teammate I never really spoke to. He was interested in my race goal and offered to pace me. I wasn’t so sure about being paced by a much faster runner, as I imagined going out too fast and collapsing OR being left behind in the dust halfway through. He told me that he could help me and that I would reach my goal. I knew that if he believed I could do it and he was willing to pace me, then I could believe in myself to finally get it! He told me not to be nervous and to get ready to run a sub 27.
Monday the 15th came and I was a nervous wreck. I had doubts. I had an upset stomach all day. I had a strained calf and tight hip flexor. It was almost 90 and high humidity. I got to the race location a half hour early and realized that I didn’t have my teammate’s number or a way to meet him for the race. By sheer miracle, as I was ready to make my way to the start line, I see him walking by looking for me. I immediately begin to feel more calm. He suggested we warm up and I said we should jog to the start line. He told me that I should line up closer to the front to avoid having to pass up people and have a better advantage for my time. Standing in the corral, waiting for the race, I could only think, “This is going to be so tough. I don’t know if I can do this. What if I get overheated? What if my legs give out.”, all sorts of doubts flooding through my head. Seeing that I was psyching myself out, my teammate told me to work on staying loose by loosening up my shoulders and warm up my hips with some exercises while we waited. “2 minutes to start” and it’s becoming real.
The horn goes off, and we’re on our way. I’m feeling so focused, and on pace, but quickly realized that I’m breathing SUCKS. “Am I out of shape? I can’t be! How am I running an 8:30 pace and having issues breathing? Is it the humidity? Did I not warm up enough?” We pass Mile 1. I whine for water a quarter-mile after. He runs ahead to get me water and I round a bend, needing to walk for a second. I didn’t want to get to comfortable walking and I force myself to get back into running right away. We get to the halfway turn around point in 12 minutes, the first time I’m hearing how fast I’ve gone so far. We reach Mile 2, I need to another walk break. I get back into running. I feel like Hell. I don’t think I’m going to make it. I literally have thoughts of potentially passing out. The doubt tsunami returns to my brain and I’m trying to breathe and put one foot in front of the other. He doesn’t tell me my time again until we’re about a quarter-mile out from the finish line.
At the quarter-mile point, he tells me that I have 4 minutes to go and can do it, but I need to push it. At this time I see two of my other teammates, who are so freakin’ fast that they’re headed towards us while they take their cool down run. I envy the fact that they are finished, but I also know they also kept pushing to be finished! They yell encouraging words as we pass each other by. If I’m being 100% honest with you, I really didn’t want to hear anyone tell me anything, as mean as that sounds. See, when people I know yell out encouraging words to me, I get more emotional and want to tear up. NO GOOD on a day like today.
“You’re at 3:30! You’re doing great!” he points out
“Yeah, okay, buddy, I don’t think I’m gonna make it, but you keep telling me how much time I have left.” my head says back to him
“You need to push now, we’re almost to the finish line!” he exclaims.
“YOU push!” I think. I couldn’t make my legs move any faster.
“You see those trees; the finish is just past that! You got this! C’mon.”
This was the final monologue from Uriel, my pacer and teammate and my inner responses to him. He wasn’t lying to me! I’ve had so many people say, “You’re almost there!” and then I get excited and I still have so far to go. He was being truthful and as soon as I saw that finish line and that beautiful, BEAUTIFUL race clock overhead, a grin began to creep up on my face and tears were forming. I had to throw my fist in the air like the victor that I felt I was, and pump my legs just a bit harder just to get it. I had crossed in 26:23 and immediately laugh/cried through the time pads. Uriel grabbed me by my waist so I didn’t fall over as I slowed and I put my arm over his shoulder and began to lightly sob, but stopped myself out of fear of hyperventilating and blacking out. Yes I have a wild imagination, but it was super hot and muggy and I still had not caught my breath! I saw a few of my other teammates just past the finish line and they hugged and congratulated me on my achievement. I felt as if I WON the race!
Now that I’ve reached my goal for the year, it’s time to come up with some new race goals for the rest of 2013 as well as get a head start for 2014. The only thing that I keep thinking about, other than being over the moon about the accomplishment, is that had I not walked at all, I could have run the race in sub-26. That being said, Uriel told me post race that we accidentally ran a sub-7 minutes for that first mile, but he didn’t want to freak me out during the race. So, now I know I was not out of shape, just went out too fast. Uriel tells me that this is just the beginning and he believes that I can do even better. I believe him, now it’s a matter of putting more work into it! #ugh
That being said, of I go to sleep, so I can attempt to wake up at the crack of dawn for another 5 mile run before getting ready for work. *sigh* wish me luck. I’m the best at oversleeping!
Do you have an amazing race story or some race goals? I’d love to hear about them! Comment below, or feel free to hit me up at Runners are Sexy!
Looking for a great place and group of folks to run with in Chicago? Come check out, Universal Sole!