“But wait, Let me take a Selfie” Before and After
4 AM and I can’t sleep anymore. I went to bed at 10:30 so the almost 6 hours of sleep is pretty much what I get each night. For once I didn’t try to go back to sleep, knowing if I cat-napped I could wake up even more tired.
5:20 AM I start to get the rest of the family up. I’m showered and I grab some breakfast biscuits and a protein shake. I begin to roll out and stretch. I use the monster band my trainer loaned me to stretch my Achilles and calf muscles, hoping to prevent inflammation.
5:52 AM we drive to downtown and see all the road closures gearing up for the big event. The Chief pulls over and I hop out considering the new traffic patterns. He still has to drop off the girls and then get out of the downtown area to park near the finish line.
6:30 AM It is a chilly morning, about 55 degrees, but I will take it. The 90 degree days the week before had me concerned … I learned I really can’t run in temperatures over 73 degrees. My four friends from childhood find me in the bathroom line. They got me a Captain America head band (because they thought it was Wonder Woman–no joking) but it is the thought that counts. I wear it proudly.
6:50 AM Time for pictures and selfies
6:55 AM Marine Corps Color Guard and National Anthem
7 AM Shot gun start
It was hard to estimate the size of the crowd running the 5K. Official numbers are about 750.
If I would change anything, I would have waited at the back of the crowd because it was almost impossible to start–practically tripping over people who were also struggling or who had chosen to walk. I lost a little time but not much.
I have to dig deep. I had been training for this. 8 weeks of slowly building up to not only running the full 5k but conquering the two notorious hills in the first two miles. I had only gotten up both without stopping once and in the rain. I had completed a 5k just 10 days before with mild hills in 34 minutes so I set a goal for these killer hills of 33-36 minutes.
I left two friends behind. Two others ran with me for a bit. One passed me and I passed the other. I thought about trying to keep up with her but the fear of burning out early on the hills–which she had no idea about–made me stick to my plan and run solo.
I made it up the first, long gradual hill. I grabbed a quick cup of Gatorade and managed one sip before spilling most of it on me.
There was a lady in front of me with neon teal shoes. I matched her pace stride for stride about 4 feet behind her. Could I make it up the second gruelling hill without stopping? Then my tunes changed: first, Glorious Day by Casting Crowns. Not exactly the fastest song to run to but inspiring nonetheless. Then as I was cresting the hill over the highway, God’s Not Dead by the Newsboys.
Thank you, God.
Seriously, my playlist was on shuffle and these were the only two religious songs on it. Anything could have played: Gimme, Gimme, Gimme or Bang a Gong … but these two songs play on the toughest part of the hill. More than a coincidence in my book.
My pacer started to slow down and I knew I needed to crest the hill and take it all the way to the end. I passed her and dug a little deeper. Two ladder trucks had the American Flag suspended over the runners just before they rounded the corner for the final 1.1 miles. Pretty inspiring.
I found the Chief, his brother and the girlfriend standing on the grassy area by the last major intersection before the home stretch. I pumped my fists up in the air. It was the best having Chief there to see me complete something that doesn’t come easy. The Chief started yelling for me to take off my headphones: “Your song! Your song!”
Eye of the Tiger! Playing by the area DJ stationed near the finishing stretch.
I was supposed to find someone ahead of me to try to pass, to push myself to the end. The field was a little wide and I wasn’t sure I could catch anyone. If only I had known my one friend was less than a minute ahead of me. UGH.
My stopwatch read 35:05. I did it and I didn’t walk a single step on my first 5k with hills. And not just any hills.
Official time: 35:03. In my age bracket I am #30 out of 112 (40-49 year-olds). Of my actual age (40) there seem to be only 12 of us and I’m 7th; 4th female.
My friend beat me by less than a minute. Her time was actually the same as my Turkey Trot results which is a flat course. So I guess I should be pretty impressed that with killer hills I only slowed down by less than a minute. If I was faster with mild hills I’m sure with no hills my pace is a bit faster than it used to be.
The Chief thinks it is funny I keep muttering, “I can’t believe L beat me.” In my defense I just discovered she is 5–FIVE–years younger than me. The rest of the friends, also all younger than me, came in behind us.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.