“Sometimes your “PR” has nothing to do with time, but what you conquer inside.”

Saturday I ran my first official race: a 5K! Not a long distance, and certainly a distance that I have run many times before. This time, however, it was different. This time, for the first time, I woke up early, pinned on a race bib. stepped up to the starting line, ran with all that I had, and crossed the finish line with my head held high. I ran an official race. The only thing I was really worried about was not getting my breathing under control right off the bat. I know that if I don’t breathe right from the start, my entire run is a struggle, and I didn’t want to get into that. The other thing that made this run completely different then every other run I’ve gone on was the temperature. Let me start from the beginning.

My alarm went off at 6:30, and I forced myself out of bed quickly, refusing  to let myself hit snooze for fear of oversleeping by accident. I grabbed a Luna bar and a glass of water and sat down to check the weather while eating. The “feels like” outside was 39 degrees. My last “training run” last weekend was completed in 78 degree weather, so it was a huge difference. The coldest temperature I’ve ever really run in, given that I really started running this summer, was mid to upper 50s. I wrote my running mantra on my hand, to help keep me focused on my breathing:

It was still dark when I left my house, but that gave me a great sunrise to enjoy:

I drove to the race start, and got out to pick up my bib, and my hands immediately froze. It was so cold out!! I paced around a bit and tried to get into a good breathing pattern as I walked to the race start. I also threw a few more of these in my mouth about 25 minutes before the start of the race:

Then I was off! People were lined up every quarter to half a mile cheering and clapping, which was nice and motivating. In my training runs, my fastest first mile was 10:56, but my first mile in the race came in at 10:35. My second mile in training runs has always been substantially longer (1.5-2 minutes longer on average). During the race, my 2nd mile came in at 10:47, which was still faster then my “fastest mile” during training. I could hear the pacing over my music (i was wearing a Spi Belt so I didn’t have my phone out to see my pacing), and I got really excited at this point, realizing that I would set a PR for time if I could keep this up. I started to get a slight side cramp at about 1.5 mi, but I kept my breathing slow, and I pushed through it.

Just finishing mile 2. It’s a blurry picture, but I’m smiling and having fun, and that’s what counts!

As I mentioned in my last post, my grandma died this past Monday. As I neared the three mile mark, knowing that I would be able to finish and finish strong, I looked down at my hand at saw this:

My grandma’s initials, which I had written on my hand before the race.

This gave me the final motivation to kick it hard towards the finish line, and I ran as hard as I could.

Almost to the end!

I made it, and I shaved 4 minutes off my fastest 5k training time! That left me with a time just over 32 minutes. I guess that adrenaline will do that to you! I was thrilled! Here are my splits from the race:

Pretty awesome!

After finishing I grabbed some water and a banana, and stretched a bit. It’s now over 24 hours laster, and I’m still on a bit of a high over my race. I feel that I ate well in prep for it, my training was good, and despite the cold, I managed to wear appropriate clothing. I don’t think I could’ve done much better in the race, except started out at the front of the line instead of starting at the back (wasting another 15-20 seconds before I technically crossed the start line), and I could have started kicking it hard for the finish line a bit earlier. Now I know I can do it… you know, for next time. About 5 minutes after the race was over, I said “well now I need to start looking for a 10k to run”! I think I might be hooked on this racing thing!

So, I’ve completed my first race. I know for some a 5k would be considered an easy run, takes very little effort, and is “no big deal”. However, this is a big deal for me, considering that given some health issues I never thought this would ever be possible. I’m happy:) Thank you to each of you who encouraged me throughout a few months of training, and gave me final “race day” tips.

Now it’s your turn: Do you remember your first race? How long did the “high” last after it? What’s your best “race day” tip?