I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten what it feels like to run a flat race. My expectation going into the Wigs for Kids 5K being held at the CLE Zoo today was that it was going to be a fast, evenly paved, flat course that I could potentially P.R. on. Well, guess I should have done my research!! To summarize this 5k in one word, as the Hermes race director did prior to passing out awards, it was DIFFICULT. SoOoOoO here’s how it went…
I sprung out of bed at 6am, perky and eager for the 5K on the schedule for the day! I left earlier than usual to get to the zoo because I anticipated a large crowd for this one, being that it was at the zoo and for such an amazing cause. I’m so grateful that I am able to give to so many charities and great organizations through all of these races. No matter how the race goes, I always remind myself that I did something good just by showing up. :-)
I definitely made the right choice getting there early. Although I pre-registered, I still got stuck waiting in a super long line for my race packet. I then did a 1-1.5 mile warm up around the zoo. I did this as a light jog with a couple 200 meter repeats to get my fast-twitch muscles ready to roll. I was feeling GOOD and definitely feeling like I could make something happen today! I quickly learned that the zoo is VERY confusing, and I managed to get lost on my little warm up. LOL. Fortunately, I figured my way back to the start prior to the beginning of the race.
When I got to the start line, the announcer stated that there was a record amount of people registering for the race and that they’d need to hold off the start time for about 10 minutes. Although this is not something I like hearing when I’m warmed up and ready to go, I thought about how awesome it was that the organization was able to get so many people to support Wigs For Kids. Additionally, it reinforced one of the things I love most about running: it’s truly a sport for EVERYONE. All are welcome to participate, whether you’re an Olympian, a local elite runner, a social runner, someone hoping to get in shape, or someone that just wants to cross the finish line. What other sport brings together so many different types of people? It’s truly fascinating to see.
Then, the Hermes race director came over to the start line and informed us that awards would only be given to the top male and female finishers, and that age groups were not gender specified. Plus, the age groups included 9 years. This meant I was competing not just against the ladies, but all the boys from age 20-29. Are you SERIOUS!?!? (*that was my response, LOL). He said yes, and that it was the organization that wanted it kept that way. All of the ladies were pretty upset and expressed their frustrations. They just looked discouraged and defeated. I focused on being positive and kept saying, “Just run your own race…focus on a P.R.! Don’t worry about the boys!!” The boys kind of knowingly shook their heads and one made a remark that “he’s never been beaten by a girl.” If you know me or have gotten to know me through my blog, you know that this naturally ignited the competitive juices in my running soul. I’ll refer to him as “Hot Shot” from now on. I was tempted to say, “WELL, you boys happen to have significantly larger lung capacities, naturally less body fat and more muscle, and longer legs that allow for a longer stride. We have to work MUCH harder to kick your butt.” But, I took a deep breath and recognized he meant no harm by saying that. I think he was trying to agree with us that it wasn’t fair. So, instead I said in a friendly yet sarcastic tone, “OH YEAH? What’s your age group?” He didn’t tell me!!! Hahahaaaa :=)
I got over the unfair award situation, reminded myself that this race was for an awesome cause, and took the advice I gave the ladies. I was feeling good and just wanted to get in a good race! Plus, I was excited to see how the “No Ipod” situation was going to go. So, the bell rang and off we all went! There were no stand-out speedy ladies at the beginning, and I thought maybe I had gone out too fast. But, I glanced at my Garmin and was at about a 6:30 pace around the first .25 mile. I got jittery and picked it up to 6:10 and stayed there. I noticed right away the hills, but felt like I could push them…they didn’t seem super significant (YET!). I crossed the 1 mile marker around 6:12, and was in close proximity with “Hot Shot.” I was shocked that he, and some other gentlemen, were running rather conservatively. I passed him. And then…a SUPER huge hill that was about .5 miles long (or at least it seemed) came in near sight. I was so bummed, and felt like my chances of PR’ing were pretty much gone. I trudged up the hill, breathing heavy and refusing to look at the terrible pace displayed on my Garmin. “Hot Shot” and a few boys passed me. Then, a girl popped up to my side. She also passed me, which was the piece of motivation I needed to boost my attitude back where it needed to be. As soon as I got up that awful hill, I pushed past her. I gave all that I had at the moment and went strong and fast. I claimed back 1st place female, and decided to make that my goal to the finish. I ignored my Garmin, and decided I was going to run by feel. I flew on the downhills to make up for the time lost on the uphills, which I think is what ultimately saved me. The men on the course that I passed were encouraging and supportive, which TOTALLY boosted my confidence. It has been a mistake to wear headphones for all of the races I’ve run…I never would have known of their support had I been wearing them. Not wearing headphones reminded me once again why I love running so much: EVERYONE is SO nice and supportive!! I also passed “Hot Shot,” who gave me an exhausted, “Awesome job!” VERY COOL, I have to say. I then crossed the mile 2 marker, and the guy standing there informed me that I was the first female with a big gap behind me. I kept focused and wanted a strong finish, regardless of how big the gap was. The last mile was tough, and once I got to mile 3 I glanced at my Garmin. It said I was at mile 2.85? I’m not sure if the dramatic uphills and downhills threw it off, but I wasn’t sweating it (well, literally OF COURSE I was hehe). The clock turned 20 minutes, and I pushed through the chute and was done. FIRST OVERALL FEMALE!!! WOOP!!
I did a little cool down with some stretching and hung out for the awards. The Hermes guy announced my time at 19:34 (I think?) …but I swear the clock said 20 minutes and change? Since my Garmin was off, I didn’t stop it until after my cool down so there’s no way of verifying my exact time on my own (it won’t load data onto my computer for some reason). So, I’m waiting to see the official results and to see if he made a mistake announcing my time. I do know for certain I was first, but I’m not so sure about 19:34…I’ll take it though!!! :-) Plus, I want to see where I rank against the boys!!
Tomorrow, I’ll be heading to the Tow Path for 13 miles. I can’t wait to get in a good long run!!
I’ll finish my blog entry today with an amazingly inspirational quote by Steve Prefontaine: “A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more.” I live by this! :-)