Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The Short of It
Saturday, October 18, 2008 I ran a 5K. I do not typically write about my 5k races. Or my 10ks for that matter. These races are primarily for fun and to help me with the training goals I have set for my marathons. However, this particular race is a milestone, and I have thought a lot about it since its conclusion.
I’m not sure where this goal came from, why it came to mind, or when I started to believe I was capable of such, but I decided I wanted to run this 5k at 7:30 pace. Coming from a girl who only two years ago ran eleven minute miles in every race and in all distances, this was a big deal.
A few months back, Jason and I ran a 5k in Cullman at midnight. We were embarking on this little adventure to prepare ourselves for the late night running we’d be doing in the Blue Ridge Relay. I didn’t have much of a goal and I was pretty tired (my usual bedtime being around 9:30). I napped in the car as Jason warmed up, and then got crankily and creakily out of it in order to run 3.1 miles.
I ran that race in 24:09 and was shocked. I think that is when the desire to run an even faster 5k took root.
I chose the Liz Hurley Ribbon Run as my big PR 5k for a few reasons. The cause is a good one. I’ve known many women who have suffered from cancer of all types, and so with them in mind I ran. I was also on the Jacobs ESTS team, and while many of the other members of the team were not really racing, I still wanted to make my company proud by my efforts.
In preparation I pictured it. I thought about a strong pace and a big finish. I thought of overcoming any weariness or discomfort that surfaced, and I pictured obtaining the goal as if I were foretelling the future.
I raced around my neighborhood, running my first mile as hard as I could in order to feel what a 7 minute mile felt like, and then held a slightly slower pace for the second two miles.
I bought a pink shirt to match my pink and black shorts and bright orange racing shoes (per my husband’s suggestion).
And I pictured it some more.
Race day arrived and I was antsy and impatient to run. The men ran at 8:00 and the women ran at 9:00. Jason finished his race and I gave him my sweatshirt and Jacobs t-shirt to hold while I ran. He instructed me to get in front and I did. It was a new and strange feeling to have nothing between me and the start but a strip of pink tape. I stood there listening to the chatter around me and then the national anthem. I looked at the flag waving in the wind and thanked God for the freedoms our country enjoys, the freedom to race, and the desire to do so. I prayed for those who have fought the battle for our country and for those who have fought the battle with cancer. And then I ran.
The race went by in a flash. A few girls passed me and I passed a few as well, but for the most part we stayed single file, especially by mile 3. I didn’t realize that I would be able to see the finish line from such a long way off and when I saw it I couldn’t believe I was already there.
I heard someone running up from behind and determined that she would not pass me. She ran hard, but so did I and at the finish I crossed before she did.
I stopped my watch and looked down to see that I had not only achieved my goal, but surpassed it by about 20 seconds. Jason found me shortly thereafter and gave me a big hug and words of congratulations. I think he was just as excited as I was.
I grabbed a water and walked back to the finish line to cheer on my friends and family who were also running the race that day. As the crowd cheered, droves of women in pink ran through the finish line, many pushing hard and smiling as they achieved their own goals and records.
When results were posted, my name showed up 11th overall and second place in my age group with a time of 22:57. Never in my life have I been anywhere near the top 10 and I wouldn’t have believed my time it if my own watch hadn’t agreed.
Since the race I’ve thought a lot about my journey as a runner. I remember when it took all I had to run a 5k in 33 minutes, in 30 minutes, in 27 minutes. I remember when I didn’t care what I ran it in. I remember when I believed I would never be any faster.
And now I wonder what’s next? What more can I do? What else can I try?
And it seems the sky is the limit.