Yesterday I did it….I finished my first competitive event since August 2009! I completed the Joyce Irish Pub 5k race in Brunswick Forest as part of the 5 Star Race Productions event held there that morning. While the original goal was 10k distance or longer….here’s my Race Report….530am – Awoke to my alarm going off and the little guy sleeping in the upstairs bed with me. How did he get up here? Went across the room to turn it off and considered just going back to bed. Both friends who had said they would do the race with me had failed to register. My family wasn’t going to watch me. It was just going to be me and a bunch of strangers running 3.1 miles on an early Sunday morning. Instead I decided to go downstairs and start my routine.
I got my tea ready. Forced myself to eat breakfast – toasted oats mixed with Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, Craisins, and Vanilla Almond Breeze. I got dressed into my same old shorts, socks, shirt, and Agnes. I put in contacts and braided my hair. I brushed my teeth, slathered on sun screen, found my watch, my sunglasses, my New Balance headband, a zippie, and my old pair of Zantes. I wasn’t going to leave this morning up to new shoes.
630am – I’m out the door and barely know where I’m going. I’ve been to the bathroom twice already because I fear having to walk during the race. Things are all good on that front as far as I’m concerned. I have everything I need and yet….I’m alone. So alone that I freak out when a coyote runs across the road as I drive. I’m headed across the bridge to another town where I’m unfamiliar, but the race is coming….
7ish am – I arrive at the Fitness Center and decide to park near the exit. I mean, I’m not sticking around much after the race….I have no one to enjoy the “party” with. I go in and get my packet and see a former yoga student. I’m number 380, but there’s not that many registered for the 5k event. I’m surrounded by 15k’ers and I feel a little remorse that my training didn’t coincide with being able to complete that event.
I feel both the excited nerves of being there, but also the loneliness. By 7:09 I’m wondering how I’m going to do this race in a sleeveless shirt….it’s only 70 degrees out this morning. I’m in and out of the bathroom to pee every 10 minutes because I want to be absolutely sure that I have nothing to worry about. I clear my watch at 7:15 am from my Saturday evening run….the next time I will see will be my race time.
7:45 am – I am wandering around and have been for awhile now. I have my number on, I’ve snapped a few pre-race pics, watched everyone else chat and stretch and eat and pack their little packs with waters and Gu and other things I won’t need for my race. I settle and go to the bathroom for the 1000th time, do a few high knees to see how everything is feeling. Can we just start already? I know I want to go sub 30 today….that’s the only goal.
We eventually get called over to the start area. I’ve checked a map of the course and feel like I know where the first mile is. That’s the most important for me, I need to get into a groove and know what once the first mile is over I can settle. I don’t want to slow down before that. Why am I so freaking nervous?! I’ve run tons of races; some longer; some far more important and competitive. So, I stand alone in the grass waiting for the okay to enter the street.
7:58 am – Last minute announcements as I place myself to the left of the pack about midway forward. I can’t tell where the other 5k’ers are and I’m not focused on them any longer. I make sure I have enough start space around me and wait for the “go”. I am calm now, ready, happy.
8 am – We’re off!
Mile 1 – I am immediately overjoyed as I hear that faint shuffle all around me. I feel like I’ve just come home and I am thrilled to hear the breath of the others start to get louder as their feet pat the ground in all directions of my ears. I felt so relaxed and fast and like I could just keep pushing until everyone settled into their groups. Who would be my group? I glanced at my watch at one point and realized that I had missed the 1 mile marker…..or else I was going very slow. It was 11:30 into the race and I was still pumped and in control.
Mile 2 – Okay, so I didn’t see the first mile marker, what now? I just keep going. We are into the housing area now and people are spreading out. This one woman is driving me crazy with her fast, loud, agonizing breath. You’re making me breathe funny, lady! I get away from her right before the water stop…..wait a minute! Isn’t the water stop the half way point? No! It’s the 2 mile marker! Hit split on my watch: 18:01.13
Mile 3 – Alright, now only 1.1 to go. I don’t stop for water because I don’t even remotely want it and I see a few people I could pass. I’m starting to feel competitive and wonder if I could be under 9:00/mile on this event? I just have to pace myself. So I start to chase them down one by one. I hit the point where the two races split, 2.9 miles in……oh no! There’s no one in front of me now! I try to keep pushing my pace and giving myself things to think about….it’s only .2 to go, you can push through this. Thankfully a woman runs up beside me and yells, “You’re supposed to be on the LEFT!”
The woman giving directions at the split had sent me to the wrong side. I explain and say “Thank You!” as she passes me. Oh wait, now I have someone to follow, but I’m slightly out of it mentally….funny how that can happen so quickly.
.1 – I see the 3 mile marker (split 8:58.28) and I just start pacing myself to push it in. I will be under 30….I will be under 28. The woman is still ahead of me and I focus in on her striped tank top. I can’t tell if she’s pulling away, staying the same pace, or getting closer. I hear someone say, “Chase her down; you can catch her!” and I wonder if it was a spectator or myself. I sprint to the finish (48.61/27:40.02), but don’t quite catch Windy. Then I keep walking down the sidewalk….
Post Race – It’s over now……I walk to the end of the sidewalk and back, get some water and figure I’ll be headed home soon. I wander over to the live results table, but it’s not displaying anything yet. I head back to the finish line to tell my yoga student good-bye, but she says there’s been hardly any women across the line yet….I may have placed. So, I meander back to the food table to grab my 1/4 of a cinnamon raisin bagel and then check live results again. The display is still not up, but the print outs are running now, so I wait my turn to type in #380 as I talk to Windy (the woman in the striped tank).
The time is similar to what I had on my watch and look……Sub 9:00/miles! What’s this at the bottom? 1st place in my division?! So, I call my husband and my mom and then decide to wait around for my award. I talk to strangers, I stretch, I wait with happiness.
Pluses and Minuses – Well, I did one of the best races I could have imagined….considering it was alone and the weather was perfect! I finished 21st over all, 8th in women, and 1st in my age group (I think it was 35-39) with no other women in my age group placing in the top 3. However, the post race party was no party and I’m not sure that my “competition” was all that competitive. Sadly the 5k distance tends to draw the novice runner (from what I gathered chatting with others) which is totally my level at the moment, but maybe I could do more…..
I’m so pumped by this experience that I can’t wait to start planning my next event. So pumped that is that I went out for a run already this morning! Check it out here.
Thanks for reading my long recap and come back tomorrow for my yoga updates over the past week. For now, I want to know…
What were your runs like this weekend?
Have you ever done a race alone?