We woke up to a winter wonderland this morning compliments of Nemo. It was beautiful to see the glistening snow sparkling in the sunlight. However, this is not the snowstorm I’m referring to. I loosely decided I would like to try to run at least one race every month. February’s calendar filled up quickly and I was having trouble finding a race to fit into my schedule. At the last minute I found that a local running group holds a series of races from December through March called the Snowstorm Classics. They alternate between 5Ks and 10Ks. Last Saturday happened to be a 5K which was perfect with my training schedule. I haven’t run a 5K in almost 2 years.
The races are really low key and take place in and around a local park. Registration takes place on race day and it’s only $5. There were 81 racers. A great turnout on a chilly Saturday morning.
I don’t love 5Ks. There I said it. When I go for a long run or run a distance race I have time to find a good pace, get my breathing even and fall into a comfortable rhythm. The 5K distance is short and I don’t pace myself well during a 5K race. I usually start out too fast and lose steam towards the end.
We got started and immediately ran up a hill! Talk about getting your heart pumping. I felt good and was really hoping for a 5K PR. The uphill start prevented me from going out too fast. At the top of the hill the course flattened out. We did a loop and a half around the athletic fields and then headed out of the park. As we turned onto the road in front of the park I neared the man in front of me. I soon passed him and pushed closer to the woman ahead. She was long and lean. It seemed as though she was running a speedier pace than I normally run. I stayed behind her and came close to catching up to her a couple of times.
My legs felt good during the race. I wasn’t sure of my pace, but I felt like I might be running my way to a PR. I had a feeling the finish line was near when we came towards another hill. Fortunately we didn’t have to go up that hill. There was a slight incline as we approached the finish line and out of the corner of my eye I noticed the man I had passed earlier closing in on me. I thought to myself “oh helllll nooo! He’s not going to pass me now!” I started running like I was being chased by a band of zombies. I pulled it out at the end and beat my imaginary competitor. He came up to me and congratulated me on a great race which I thought was very cool. There was no time clock at the finish so I actually had no idea of my race time.
I stayed for a bit, watched and cheered as others came through the finish. I listened as some of the runners discussed their upcoming races, training and for some preparations for the Boston Marathon. I’ve never been involved in a running group, but standing there amongst other runners I did feel as though I was part of a unique club. There is the running lingo – PR, BQ, chip time, splits, Garmin and the like. I smiled to myself as I headed to my car. I still get a charge out of my new life. I run races or go for long runs on Saturday mornings when years before I remember sitting on the sofa all morning watching reruns of 90210 (do not judge!).
Being a small, no frills race I knew it might be a while before my time was posted. My current 5K PR is 28:53 which I have declared is false for a few reasons. I had major stomach drama that morning and I felt sluggish through the entire race. At that time I was not consistently running a sub 10 minute mile for any length of time. This race was definitely a better test of my abilities. Though I knew I ran a strong I was still floored when I saw I ran it in 27:02!!
“Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it’s all about.”
-PattiSue Plumer, U.S. Olympian