As crazy as it may sound, considering all the running that I do, I have never run an “official” 5K. Never. I’ve run lots of 10Ks, tons of half marathons, and a handful of full marathons, but not one 5K. Not one until yesterday, and it was a pretty memorable one …
Since the beginning of this year, 2012, I have been running a lot. My average has been 2 half marathons a month, with a 10K thrown in for good measure when it can be fit in. I like the short distance of a 10K … it’s long enough to get you running hard, but yet short enough to not really make you want to kill yourself. As I was researching races for my hubby, who’s running 52 half marathons this year (yes, I did write FIFTY-TWO, but that’s another blog post in itself), I got to thinking that I wish I could run more, however, my work schedule is not quite as flexible as his is. I could, however, manage a 5 or 10K after working my 12 hour night shift without much difficulty, so I thought I’d register for a few. And I did …
I like to sign myself up for a lot of the local races because 1) they’re close to home, and 2) because they’re fun and not so crowded. Signing up for the Stockton Shamrock Shuffle was made without much thought. The venue is on my way home from work, and it’s relatively close to my house. The 0830 start time was perfect – an hour after I get off work which gives me enough time to change, drive on over, and grab my bib and goodies before the start.
Here’s the thing … As I have never run a 5K, I had NO clue how to “race” it, so I sent out an S.O.S. to my friends on my FaceBook Page, Running Code 3, and out to my friends on Twitter, and I got some interesting responses! My hubby commented, “Run fast!” And I just laughed, except the suggestions that I got were basically along the same lines … “Sprint.” “Slightly uncomfortable pace mile 1, slightly more uncomfortable pace mile 2, kick it into “Puke & Rally” pace for the rest!” And then I thought I’d seek the advice of my old running coach, Speedy Sasquatch, and he laughed when I asked and said, “Um … one foot in front of the other.” He sent me an email shortly after and broke it down for me and basically said the same thing everyone else was telling me. So I braced myself … Here we go!
The morning of the race was pretty uneventful. I was tired, yes, but I had just finished working a 12 hour night shift. I got there at about 0800, picked up my bib, T-shirt, and my official Shamrock Shuffle Glass. Did the things I needed to do to get ready – like put my bib on, then locked up my car and headed to the Starbucks which was right across the street from the start to use the facilities. I didn’t know of anyone who had signed up to run this race, however, as I was waiting in line at Starbucks, out of the restroom pops my friend, Michelle, from work. I was happy to see her and we chatted for a bit, then she took off with her hubby and son. (As a side note, I never knew that Michelle was a runner. I saw her at the Sacramento Shamrock’n Half the week prior, and that’s where I learned that she was a runner.)
I realized that I left my Garmin in the car 5 minutes before the start of the race. However, since the venue was small, I was able to get a quick warm up run in as I ran to my car to grab it.
What’s a 5k? 3.1 miles, right? How hard could it be, com’mon? Okay … let me just say that if you’re just running 3 miles, it’s all good, cause you’re just running. If you’re “racing,” it’s a different story. But I never had run one before, remember, and I didn’t know how to run it or what to expect, so however this race ended for me would be a PR. I figured I’d just run.
Before I even got to mile one, I thought, “CRAP! This is too fast. This is WAY too fast. WTEfff?” I’ve never run this fast before. As I hot footed it onto Weber Street towards mile two, I was getting sick. Literally. Over the last week I’d been nursing a nasty head cold which has been trying to turn into bronchitis. I’d been coughing and severely congested. I felt okay running except my throat was really dry and it made me feel as if I was suffocating. I wanted water to wet my throat, but it’s a 5K … there are no water stops. So … I sucked it up and told myself that I’d be done sooner than I thought. It was all I could do. I just kept telling myself that I would be okay. Regardless of how I really felt, which was crap, I still took the time to thank the Police Officers and volunteers who were there. I was thankful that my playlist started to play Rockfeller Skank just when I needed it to … Mile 2 to mile 3. I love the extended version that I have of Fat Boy Slim’s Rockafeller Skank. It runs about 7 minutes long and it helped me truck away at a good pace. I had no clue where I was time wise because I really didn’t want to know, nor did I want to take the time to look. I had a mini goal, but at this point, I was pretty whipped and I wanted it to be DONE.
As I eased back onto Center Street from Weber, I could clearly see the finish so I sucked it up and pushed even harder. I could see the clock and I could see that I was well within the goal that I had set for myself so I pushed just a little more and before I knew it I was DONE for real this time. 26:20. I wanted to see a 26 on the clock and I got it.
I was happy to be done, but even happier that I had hit the goal that I had set. I really had no idea that I had it in me. I figured I’d run the 9:30 or 10 min/mile pace that I usually run. Something happened though. Something happened to me. Holy crap! What the eff?! Where did this new, speedy Row. come from? 8:28min/mile pace? Seriously? SERIOUSLY? For real? Wow! I impressed and amazed myself, let me tell you. I was pretty happy. After I got a little bit of water and congratulated the other runners that had finished before me, I made my way back to the finish line and cheered the other runner on. It was an awesome feeling.
I was tired, but I stayed for the awards and the raffle, and for a little cup of Peet’s coffee. I talked to my friend, Michelle, and her family as we waited for the raffle to start. When the announcer, Mark from On Your Mark Events, got to our age group, we were surprised to learn that Michelle had taken third, then I learned that I had taken first. FIRST!!! Really? Yeah! What a great surprise!
What a great way to ring in my very first 5K!! A PR, of course, and a first place finish! I was very pleased and overly excited! I couldn’t ask for better. I am truly happy to have had such a great, blessed day. Huge thank you to my friend, Erika Rae, who talked me through my crazy doubts. She rocked the Modesto Marathon Half the next day by competing a Sub-2 half. Also, a big thank you to my friends who gave me crazy, fun advice on how to run a silly 5K! Looking forward to my next adventure!