This post is a bit belated, but I figured I should probably write up the last one before my race on Thursday...
Last Christmas we gave my dad tickets to the US Open golf tournament in Merion, PA, so for Father's Day weekend we all met up in Philadelphia. My brother started running at the beginning of the year and my stepsister is also a runner, so when I found a 5K that Sunday morning it seemed like a perfect family activity.
Now let me just say that I really dislike 5Ks. I would much rather run 10 or 13.1 miles at a more comfortable pace than run 3.1 a bit faster. My disdain for running fast and my limited ability to deal with feeling miserable has resulted in 5- 8- and 10-K PRs far below what the calculators predict based on my half marathon time. Basically when it starts to feel pretty difficult, I just slow down. The last time I actually "raced" a 5K was in September of 2011, and the goal was to break 21 minutes. This seemed reasonable given recent races of 21:23 and 21:40, but a few of us took a wrong turn and that was the end of that. Since then, I've been focusing on longer races, and hadn't seriously attempted the sub-21 again... partly because I wasn't sure that it was feasible, and partly because I wasn't sure that even if it was feasible I wanted to feel pretty awful for a fair amount of time. But with some advice from Allie ("if you don't feel miserable for the last mile, you're not doing it right") and the support of my cheering family, I decided to give it another shot.
After a very short warm up jog with Adam and Brittany, we left Dad, Mary and Monte and headed down to the start. The race was set up as an out an back along the river near the Art Museum which made for a nice, flat course, and the weather was decent for June (70-ish, cloudy, and slightly humid but nothing like NC). The race start was pretty unorganized, with no corrals or pace signs at all despite it being a pretty large race (1,795 finishers in the timed division and over four thousand counting the untimed/recreational runners). Britt and I decided it would be better to start too far up than to get boxed in, so we found a spot pretty close to the start line, while my brother made his way back into the pack a bit. The race was supposed to start at 8:30, and around 8:35 we were told that they had more walk-up registrations than they expected so it would be another 5-10 minutes. The few hundred people toward the front started joggging up and down the street, so Britt and I did the same and then went back to our spots at the line. Around that time, I realized that I needed to pee and started to worry that was not going to be a good situation if I had to really push myself at the end of the race... but the announcer came back to tell us it would be yet another 5-10 minutes and fortunately there was a trail into some trees nearby, so that problem was solved. Back to the start line and starting to get a little irritated that we were not starting yet, but feeling significantly faster than I had before the second delay.
And finally, we were off. As usual, I got caught up and started out too fast, but thankfully I had my Garmin to keep me in check and I settled in at my goal pace (6:44). Despite the big crowd, I actually had a bit of space, and I felt really good through the first mile (6:38). As I got into the second mile, the leaders were coming back towards the field and I tried to count how many women were ahead of me, which was actually a nice distraction, and by my count I was 19th as I made the turn. I thought I'd see Britt after the turnaround, but I didn't so I knew she was right behind me, and then I started looking for Adam. I was able to spot him despite a growing number of runners, and that was yet another nice distraction! By the end of mile 2 (6:49, including the hairpin turn) I was still feeling surprisingly good. I considered picking up the pace, but really didn't want to blow up so I just tried to maintain the 6:44. Then suddenly I wasn't feel as great, and though my pace stayed the same, it was definitely not feeling easy anymore. Thankfully we were nearing the end, I could see the finish line, and knew Monte, my dad, and Mary would be there cheering so I was able to suck it up enough to finish the last mile in 6:46 and throw in a bit of a kick for the last .14 (5:56 pace). Officially it was a 20:56.... good for 15th female, 1st in my age group, and most importantly, finally under 21 minutes!
I was so excited to have met my goal with my family there, and to make things even better, Brittany finished just behind me in 21:48 (her goal was sub-22) and Adam sprinted to the finish to beat his sub-25 goal by two seconds! I am so proud of him for taking up running, sticking with it, and beating his time goal in his very first race. Next up for us: the Bull City Race Fest, where Adam, Britt, and I are running the half marathon and Dad and Mary are doing the 5 miler. If only I could get Monte in on the action... (hahahaha)