With knee surgery on the horizon and scheduled a mere 18 days away and my running life on a hold, I have been keeping busy in the best ways I know how: Cross training, strength training, house hunting, vacation planning, husband annoying, dance party in the living room, working like a fiend, and shopping like I have a totally expendable income.
And then I went to family reunion and my 10 year old cousin bet me she could beat me in a 5K. Well, I’ll be darned if I’d ever let her do that. So, I did the most rational and totally correct (and by correct I mean you should not be doing this if you have a bad knee) and registered to run the same race she was planning to do.
The Girls on the Run 5K is a personal favorite of mine, especially since I served as a buddy runner last year. Because I had been having knee issues, my mom did not ask me to buddy run this year. Therefore, nothing holding me back and nothing to lose except my dignity.
So I did it. Friday, super early in the morning before I could even question what the heck I was thinking, I registered myself. Worst case scenario, I figured should my knee start hurting I would shame walk back to the car and pretend like my stupidity never happened.
Saturday morning arrived quicker than I would have liked. I was at Walsh University by 6:45 to help get things organized for my Mom’s GOTR team. I sprayed hair, I did some Power Stripes on faces. And I smack talked my cousin. She was surprised I showed and backed off her previous challenge, “you run more than me so I know you will beat me, DUH!”
Soon enough, it was race time. My warm up consisted of jogging approximately 30 seconds. No stretching. Just happy thoughts. Probably my worst race preparation ever. Lined myself up at the front. Also a happy thought. I pretended that I was indeed Speed Racer and that the world was my oyster.
Before I knew it, the gun was going off. I took off. And tried my best to keep things comfortable. Both with breathing and with my knee. My goal (since lord knows I am probably out of shape and my most recent runs that I have managed were more in the 8:10-8:20/mile territory) was to get in under 24. I refused to look at my watch throughout the race. The race started slightly uphill, then progressed to a gentle downhill which I strode out.
I settled in easily during the first half mile to about 8th Overall. We turned onto another road and started to run through some winding neighborhoods. I passed the first mile marker feeling very good and sat now in 7th place.
The second mile I tried to maintain my effort, as we wound through several more roads that were relatively flat although some change in elevation was felt. I managed to pass 2 more girls during this time and now sat in 5th. Which is where I would stay. Shortly after the second mile, the course turned onto the Hoover Trail which is a surface of crushed limestone. It limited visibility and I felt like I was running alone. I literally could see no one ahead but could tell I had a few runners behind. This was a mentally taxing mile. It was hard to push myself both because 1) It was starting to get hot and super humid 2) I had no target ahead 3) I was not even looking at my watch 4) My lack of training was starting to show and I was getting tired. Like really tired. Like so tired that I wanted to puke and then take a nap tired. The photos don’t show, but I was whooped.
I managed to make it off the trail and onto the Walsh track. I could hear the runner behind me closing on me just by listening to the crowd cheer. I had no energy. I was certain she would be the first runner to actually pass me. But somewhere, deep down, I summoned my last bit of energy and willed myself to run hard through the 3/4 around the track. I just kept repeating: You are faster than anyone that could be behind you. And I outkicked her to the finish.
Final Finish: 22:30 (7:15/mile pace)
Final Feeling: How the HELL did pull that out of my butt? (makes me excited for when I do make my comeback)
Splits (since I didn’t check until after the fact and case in point that I am not in shape to hold speed anymore):
Mile 3–7:48 (aka crapped down my leg mile moment fail)
Mile 0.1–6:25/mile pace
All in all, a great race was had by all. Girls on The Run is a great organization and I wish my area had a chapter because I totally would be involved. Hopefully it continues to grow because >1,000 participated this year and it is a wonderful event. The course changes that were made really helped eliminate the congestion of last year and everyone seemed to enjoy the variance in surface.