In September, I competed in my last 5k race for the season/year. I ended up placing 1st in my age group and was the 8th woman overall out of 400 to finish. This by far exceeded my expectations. I was going into this race just for fun and even convinced my boyfriend to run with me. I had no goal set in mind, just as long as I was within a minute of my previous time at my 2nd 5k race. My time for that was 24:08 and I ended up placing 12th overall out of 65 people. For that I was the 4th woman to finish.
For this race, I did not do anything special outside of my normal routine. I was running 4-5 days a week at 7-7 1/2 miles with an average time of 56 minutes. I keep a steady pace every time I run, which helps me run farther. For this race, I just wanted to have fun. I knew this would be my last run for the year because of the upcoming winter weather. So as long as I do not trip and if it's not raining or snowing, then I am happy.
We woke up early that Saturday and left in perfect time. We just beat the rush of traffic to get to the event. Which of course, was only a one way road, so imagine the line for that! We were ushered into parking at a local school nearby and were one of the very last cars to get in before the parking lot was full. I knew God was watching over us and by our side. We were very lucky and thankful to have just made it in the parking lot. I always have to be to a race with enough time otherwise I get very anxious and nervous. I need that time to prepare, stretch, get hyped up and go to the bathroom one last time!
Tents and concessions stands
So we thankfully made it with plenty of time to spare and picked up our bibs and time chips. The half marathoners started 5 minutes before us, so watched them start. Then it was our turn. We were in the front of the line and once that horn honked, we were off! I love that feeling of starting a race. People cheering, releasing your energy and built up nerves. I immediately sped my pace up, which I always do when starting. I like to get away and be on my own, so I can focus on my pace, breathing and strides. I sprinted for about the first 1/2 mile and got my breathing in sync with my steps and kept that pace once I felt comfortable. Now it was time to enjoy the scenery. I could see my boyfriend ahead of me for the first mile and a half. He then sprinted off and I no longer could see him. I realized I was far enough ahead of the main crowd of runners but not quite towards the leaders. I knew I must be doing pretty good. I was making good time with my miles by guesstimating. I for sure knew I was not over the 9 minute mile mark. After passing some runners, and only having a couple around me, I was alone around the 2-2 1/2 mile mark. This is the part I love. Knowing I am in a race of 1700 people yet being alone while running. Feeling the wind, sun on my face, hearing my breath and the steps I am taking. This is why I love running.
Before I knew it, there was a sign for the 3rd mile. The last part of the race was in woods so the ground was soft and damp. I figured I would sprint as much as I could. By this time, I could just feel that I was going to be around the same time as my previous 5k. I took deep breaths and stretched my short little legs as much as I could without overdoing it. I started passing a couple men. I rounded a corner in the woods, which then lead to a gravel path with the finish line straight ahead. I looked around and no one was coming up behind me, so I focused straight and ran. People were cheering and I could hear, "Go go go!" "You're almost there!" "Keep going!" "Good job, you did it!"
Almost to the finish line
And I crossed. I did it! I barely broke a sweat (also because it was chilly out) and I knew I had a good time. My boyfriend was waiting at the finish for me. We wanted to know our times right away, but had to be patient and wait. So we drank water, stretched and watched others cross the finish. Soon the results were up and we went to look at our times. Derek found mine first and exclaimed, "You got 23:20!" My mouth dropped open I could not believe it. Derek clocked in at 22:23, so I was only a minute behind him! We then realized they were having awards for each age group. I half jokingly said, "Do you think I made it?" I figured I would be in the top 10 of my age group, but we checked the results and I was FIRST! I won my age group!
Accepting my trophy/award for winning 1st!
Never in my life have I won something individual. Sure as a group for sports, music, etc. But nothing individually, so this was a huge accomplishment for me. I am still in shock with my results. All of my training, hard work, blisters, sore feet, early mornings, bad weather and love for running brought me to this moment. I received a trophy at the awards ceremony for 1st place. Not only does this make me realize how far I have become as a runner but it makes me love the sport even more. I am going to continue to train harder, run faster and keep enjoying every second of it all because I love to run!
After I ran the race...thumbs up and feeling good
My amazing boyfriend who supported and ran with me
So geeked up with my award
Still in shock and so happy with my results
Feeling like I am on top of the world...I wanted to keep running!
Number 1 overall for my age group
The training, sweating, hard work, blisters, sore feet, early mornings, are all worth it!!!
Never ever give up on something that makes you happy. To achieve a goal, it might not be easy, but it sure is worth it.....and you just might surprise yourself!