I had my fourth fifth – hey, I’ve finally done enough of them that I’ve lost count! – 5K this weekend. This one was really special. It was to raise money specifically for the band and athletic departments at my alma mater. Both the middle school and high school were severely damaged in the recent tornadoes.
The run ran through the historic downtown area and past the middle and high schools. It was very emotional to see the damage up close and at the slower pace of running versus driving by.
As far as the race itself, I was excited about the possibility of running my first 5K on a relatively flat course since having increased my long runs to six miles and having successfully completed a 10K.
I had recently read an article on Active.com about running smarter. The fourth point was worth the whole reading of the article to me: Run as fast as you want to, not as fast as you think you can.
That whole section made me realize that maybe the thing that’s been holding me back from running faster is me. So, I decided that, if the weather cooperated, I was going to go for a PR (personal record).
The weather did cooperate. It was overcast and much cooler than it has been – still pretty hot for a run, but much better than it could have been for a Saturday morning in June.
I got near the front with the faster runners. It was my plan to A) not get trapped behind the slower runners and B) let the speed of the faster runners push me a bit until the course spread out a bit.
My goal was to run the race in 33 minutes. That’s about a 10:30/mi pace, which is about a full minute more than I usually run. That’s a lot of time to shave off for a runner.
I ran the first mile fast than I thought I could. I did a 9:49/mi pace. I was feeling pretty good.
The second mile included a water station and some hills, so I wound up running it a little slower, but still a 10:34/mi pace.
The last mile, I was feeling a little tired, but still doing okay – not too tired to keep going. As I was coming up the last hill that would then go down to a slightly downhill finish, I was thinking that I would pick up the pace after I crested the hill.
As I crested the hill, though, I was feeling pretty tired. I knew I could keep running, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do my normal sprint to the finish. I decided that was okay. I was ahead of my time and it wouldn’t be a big deal to just run across the finish line instead of sprint.
Then – and maybe this is a little shameful, but maybe it just helps to have a goal – I saw a woman a little bit ahead of me and I thought, “I think I can pass her.”
So, I sped up and I did pass her. Then, I noticed another lady a little bit further ahead and thought, “I bet I can pass her, too.”
I did and I wound up sprinting over the finish line – in 32:21! A full minute under my goal (since I’d totally been thinking that 33:59 was still 33 minutes) and more than two-and-a-half minutes better than my previous PR. That’s an average pace of 10:13 – much faster than I thought I could maintain.
I wish I had a photo to share, but my personal photographer husband only had one day off this weekend, so he was at home asleep.
I was so excited! I mean, I never even dreamed that I would run a 5K and here I am beating my previous best time by so much more than I thought I could. Maybe I’ll eventually be able to get under 30 minutes on a 5K after all.
I was really hoping I might have placed, but the times were really fast Saturday. The prizes were bricks from the school – bricks that were displaced during the tornadoes. The race organizers had plaques made with race name and placement to go on the bricks. That would have been a very special prize and a piece of my alma mater’s history.
Even without a commemorative brick, though, this was a very special race with the course, the purpose (they raised over $30,000!), and setting a new PR.
Do or do not. There is no try.