Official Time: 20:14
I was pretty nervous going into this race. It had been a hot second since I’d raced a 5k – my last one was in December. I’m not even sure what caused the nerves. It was a really small local race with next to no competition. Looking back, I think it’s because I had been vocal about wanting to drop my 5k time down, and I was afraid of falling short of my expectations for myself.
Prior to this race, my fastest 5k since having kids was closer to a 20:30. The next logical step towards reaching my goal of running a sub-19 5k again was to first break that 20 minute barrier. I knew my fitness indicated that I was close. But with a hot, muggy day I wasn’t sure how that would pan out.
The race was only about a 10 min drive from my house and started at 8:30am. I had planned to leave my house between 7:30-7:45 to leave plenty of time for packet pick up, a 15 min warm up, strides, and stretching. Well, I slept through my alarm, waking up on my own at 7:45 😆. Cue panic mode. I quickly dressed, ate half a banana, and rushed out the door. At that point, none of our kids were awake yet, so the chances of my husband making it up there with them to watch was slim to none.
I arrived shortly after 8 and rushed through packet pick up. I managed a pathetic warmup of 6 minutes, and did a few stretches. I prioritized my strides to wake up my legs and get race ready. At that time, Matt and the kiddos showed up. That eased my nerves a bit.
Before long it was time to line up. I nervously scanned the people there to see if there was any potential competition for first female. I saw another post-collegiate runner who used to be way faster than me. I tried to push that aside and focus on my own race. My first priority was to execute a good race and try and snag a personal best.
I got out pretty fast right behind 10-15 guys and told myself not to go too hard the first mile. I knew I wanted to hold even splits as close to 6:25-6:30/mile as I could manage. The other female went out right alongside me and we went stride for stride the first mile. We crossed the mile marker at 6:27 – right on target. As expected, it started to hurt pretty bad soon after that. It was still the two of us in the lead for the females, and I don’t think the next one was anywhere close. I fully expected her to sit on me until the final mile, and then drop me like it was nothing. I am so glad I didn’t allow myself to give up in that moment, because to be very honest, I almost did. And then, as cheesy as it sounds, I remembered what I wrote on my Instagram post just a few days ago. “Don’t give up before you’ve started.” And I decided that I’d hold on as long as I can. At the very least, maybe she’d string me along for a PR.
Shortly before the 2 mile marker I had a small burst of energy and decided to surge and try and drop her. I pulled ahead by maybe a second or two. I went through the 2 mile in 12:59 (second split was a 6:32 and not far off pace). The final mile was tough. Usually by that point in a 5k I’m completely gassed and hanging on for dear life. Today was no exception. I tried to zone out and hold that same pace for as long as I could. With a half mile to go I knew I had pulled away by a solid 10-15 seconds. I felt fairly confident I’d win at that point, but I wanted to push as hard as I good to get my time lower.
Coming into the track for the final 300ish meters was the best part. Not because of the crowd (trust me, there wasn’t one). But because the track made me feel fast. I felt strong and confident finishing, even though I had nothing left. And I knew my husband and kiddos were there watching. That’s always the best feeling. And it’s the coolest part of racing again — knowing I’m setting an example for them.
I finished the morning with a door prize and $100 for winning the female side. It was an awesome experience. If you haven’t raced a 5k on the 4th I’m convinced you’re not an American 😆. Okay, I’m kidding. But really, there’s no better way to celebrate our freedom than to put yourself on a starting line and give it everything you’ve got. You start the holiday feeling so accomplished and you’re reminded how blessed we are to have the opportunity to do something we love.