Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Race That Almost Wasn't

But I'm SO glad it was.

This was the Rush Hour 5K Road Race at my work.  Around 11am this morning, people started noticing that the toilets weren't flushing and the faucets had almost no water pressure. A friend and I walked over to the other building on our company's campus and found the same situation.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I drink a lot of liquid throughout the day - water, coffee, tea - pretty much constantly.  So, without working toilets there was a bit of panic that sent in with many of us.  Shortly after, a company email went out that there was a water main break and by noon our management team decided to let us head home for the day.

I sent an email to the organizer to confirm if they would still be holding the race.  Part of me really didn't want to drive back to work once I got home, and a few people in my department echoed similar sentiments and said they might not bother coming back.  A little after two, an email went out confirming the race was still on. I had spent the afternoon walking the dog, mowing the lawn, and finishing up some projects around the house, and headed back to work in time for the race.

Couple of things... it was pretty hot today.  And admittedly, I haven't run that much lately, at all.  Most shockingly, I showed up to this race by myself.  There was no guarantee anyone else I knew would be running, and I hadn't signed up with any one to run with.

There were some familiar faces since it was held at work, but no one I knew enough to talk to.  I was there about a half hour early, so I jogged a little, and walked around, stretching and listening to my ipod.  I started getting nervous, realizing I was really about to do this by myself.  Each race I've run has included at least one friend running with me - and many times had people I knew would be cheering at the end.  But not this time.

I put myself in the middle of the pack.  I know all the advice - don't go out too fast, find someone to pace with, save some for the end, etc etc etc.  And I told myself the only goal was to break 30 minutes.  So imagine my surprise when I look down after a quarter of a mile and I've got an 8:06ish pace going.  I knew I had to back off or I wasn't going to make it.  I tried to keep pace with a few women around me so I wouldn't keep speeding up.

Mile 1: 8:52

Crap. I'm not known for sub-9 minute miles. Ever. I suddenly became very worried I was going to bonk.  I tried to pull back, just stick with the group I was with and not worry about passing anyone in mile 2.

Mile 2: 9:19

I felt good. I had a good cushion left in order to get under 30, and that was the only goal.  It all went by so fast.  I kept checking my Garmin for my mileage and around 2.75 was headed down a windy sidewalk and couldn't believe it was almost over.

Mile 3: 8:52

A woman passed me that I had noticed before the race.  She looked like a runner.  In the half hour before the race, you can bet I was scouting everyone out and making assumptions about people - because what else are you supposed to do?!!?  I wasn't sure if she was in my age group (20-29) but felt like she might be.  But it didn't matter.  I just wanted under 30.

I could see the finish line and timer and was shocked and excited to see a time starting with 27.  I gave what I had left and came flying down the hill.  My Garmin read 27:06.

Total shock. I had thought maaaaybe I could get in under 29, maybe.  Seeing that 27 put a massive grin on my face.  I wandered around a little after, drinking some water and grabbed a clementine.  I tried to decide if I should just go or hang out for a bit watching the rest of the finishers.  I took a seat on the basketball court and ate my clementine, and just kept looking at my Garmin and smiling at the time.  I looked at my splits in awe.

I got up to throw out the rind from my clementine, and noticed they had started printing the results.  I looked at them upside and saw a 2 next to my name.  And then I saw the pile of medals.

Wait a minute... did I just get an age group award?

Yes, not only did I PR my 5K, by 3 minutes and 16 seconds, I received 2nd place for the 20-29 female age group.  And yes, there was more than 2 people in my age group - 7 of them in fact.  Last year,  in this same race, I was 7/9 in my age group.  This year...  I got a freakin' medal you guys!! I love medals.

Embarrassing picture with my medal.  
Yes, I'm in my truck - but don't worry mom, I swear I was at a red light!

I'm so happy and feel very rejuvenated with running.  Like all these miles I've run over the last year have actually helped me accomplish something I wasn't sure was possible.  And now I'm off to find myself another race to run...

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