Local races are the best!
By the term “local,” I mean within a 15-20 minute drive. It is so nice to be able to leave the house at 7:00 or later to go to a race. I had planned for this summer to be a focus on speed and heat training by completing several 5 and 10ks, but my ankle injury and moving kind of interfered with my race plans. Fortunately, there are a few local races that make my schedule every year to kick this goal in gear a bit.
On Saturday, August 24, our local United Way chapter held its fourth annual Hustle for Health 5k, 10k, and fun run. This race was my very first 5k in 2010, and I have participated in it every year since.
Last year I ran the 5k because I wanted to see if I could place in my age group for the first time at this race. I came in second place and it wasn’t a PR. This year, I decided to step up to the 10k. My last official 10k was in September of 2012, and I wanted to see how much I had improved. When I saw the course map though, I wondered how possible it would be for me to PR. One one hand, I was excited to find out the 10k course went right in front of our new home – twice. That meant that my family could step right out the front door and cheer on the runners. It would also mean that I actually got to see my family along the course. My husband is great about going to races, but once he’s parked, he’s not moving the car. It’s start and finish line only. The part of running the 10k that made me nervous was how tough the course would be. (If you live on a hill that has the name “hospital hill” you can bet your training will be tough.) It has taken several weeks for my legs not to feel heavy from running uphill to get home.
Race morning, I decided to do a two mile warmup around my neighborhood to get my slow miles out of my system. I was excited to see all the race markers around my streets.
Since my family was going to cheer from home, and the start was less than a mile away, I decided to run to the start. Let me tell you how wonderful that was. I was able to run to the start in less time than it took me to drive to it last year. Then I saw friends and other runners from the local running group at the start. After the big races I’ve completed the past year, it was nice to see familiar faces.
The first three miles were the hardest, which included a pedestrian bridge over the highway. I was excited to see my kids and husband up on the porch as we came up the hill. There was an aid station just over the crest and some cheerleaders along the course too.
After coming back across the highway, the 10kers moved into the [mostly flat] 5k course. I knew this route well, since it hasn’t changed much. It’s an out and back course which is great for encouraging other runners. There were a few runners from the group volunteering who snapped some pics. I’m grateful, because I don’t often get pictures in motion that don’t have the word “proof” stamped across.
I became very tired toward the end of the fifth mile, and I wasn’t sure if I could hold my pace steady for another mile. Fortunately, my experienced legs took over when my head wanted to quit. I felt like my legs were on autopilot and I just kept at it. I also told myself I wasn’t hurting as bad as I thought I was. Coming around the last block, I realized I was going to set a new PR and my goal of sub 51:00. The downhill finish sealed it as I finished with an official time of 50:08. It was exactly a minute and a half off of my PR from last September. On hills. At the end of a forty mile week. Running six days in a row.
I won my age group and I was the fifth female to finish the 10k.
I don’t put this here to brag. I put this here because I want you to know that your goals are important. The girl in the top picture three years ago ran her first 5k at a pace over ten minute miles. I had no idea I could ever knock out an eight minute mile pace. I wouldn’t have thought about running more than one marathon (my goal was to eventually do one marathon), and I would never have dreamed of trying to qualify for Boston. But if I hadn’t taken that first step to train for a 5k, I would have never know what I was capable of. I’m still learning as I go.
What are you waiting for?