Sunday, August 17, 2008

Howl at the Moon 5K Race Report

Friday night I ran in a local 5K. It was a very small race with about 225 participants that took place in our local park at 8pm. I had never run a night race before, so despite my distaste for 5K's I was intrigued and decided to give it a shot. The above picture is of me and my sister before the race got started.

At the check-in, I found that the shirts were pretty awesome. They gave us a nice long-sleeve tee that is a burnt orange and has the race logo of a wolf and a moon on it. I also found a lot of awesome coupons for free things at local restaurants.

Then I ran into Jenny, a friend that went to the same church I grew up attending. She had just run her very first 5K last weekend and was excited to make this number 2. I was excited for her! I'm always glad when someone else discovers the addiction of running.

So, the thing about small town 5K's? They go back to the basics. There were no chips for timing. The only clock was at the finish line. I loved it. It reminded me of my high school days. When you cross the line, you tear off part of your number and they push a button to record your time... later they match the numbers/names that they keep in order on a stick to the finish times. Very old-fashioned.

I always manage to do something goofy when someone is taking my picture.

The race was an out and back sort of thing. We ran out of the park, down a main road, made a circle around City Hall (and had a nice little water stop) and then ran back to the park.

When I took off, I told myself that I was going to just have a smooth run and enjoy the feel of a nighttime race. I went to turn on my ipod and it didn't work, so I was a little bummed about that. I just tucked it into my sports bra and started entertaining myself by singing in my head.

I hit the mile one split in 8:02! I couldn't believe it, and I felt like there'd be no way I could keep that pace up.

I continued on and grabbed a quick sip of water at the stop before gearing up to make the uphill stretch back to the park. At mile 2 I was at 16:30, so I had only slowed down about 30 seconds.

The last mile was tough. I'm not really used to maintaining a pace like that for more than a half mile when I do my interval training. However, I found myself humming the Olympic theme song in my head (it can't be helped after a week of watching Olympics day in and day out) and thinking of Michael Phelps... I told myself, "Heck, if he can go win gobs of gold medals, I can keep pushing myself for less than a mile to run faster than I thought I could."

So I did. My lungs were killing me (that's the only thing that I still haven't quite been able to whip back into shape after spending a lot of my summer fighting allergy problems). I kept moving. I didn't have much of a finishing sprint because I was pretty much going as fast as I could already.

I crossed the line in 25:54. It wasn't my fastest 5K, but it was the fastest 5K I've ran in the past 7 years since I got out of high school (back then my PR was 23:03).

I was happy. I was even happier when they gave me an icy cold bottle of water.
After a few moments of cooling off, we headed to the park pavilion for watermelon. I have to say that this is one of the best possible post-race snacks that a race can offer. They also had pizza, but I was pretty hot still so I skipped out on it.

I saw a guy that runs at the gym I go to and that I see around at various races. He had brought his 13-year-old son to run. I was excited to see that a lot of parents had brought their kids to run the race.

They did door prizes. Then they started doing age group prizes. Jenny was certain that I probably placed, but I kept insisting that there was no way on earth that I did considering my time.

So I was SHOCKED! when they got to my age group and called out my name for not third, not second, but FIRST PLACE!!!

I was also a wee bit ecstatic. I laughed so hard because not only have I never won my age group in a race before, but also because I never thought it'd happen now and in a 5K!

They gave me a really awesome plaque with both the race logo and an Olympic torch in honor of the fact that our race occurred during the Olympics. I seriously said out loud that I totally felt like this was my Michael Phelps moment.

And that's the thing: we don't all have to be winning Olympic gold medals. For me, the joy of challenging myself and finishing something I set out to do is just as fulfilling.

I finished reading Dean Karnazes's Ultramarathon Man and think that a favorite quote from the book goes along with this idea:

"Running has taught me that the pursuit of a passion matters more than the passion itself. Immerse yourself in something deeply and with heartfelt intensity - continually improve, never give up - this is fulfillment, this is success."

There is no doubt in my mind that Michael Phelps also subscribes to a similar mentality. When you know that you're doing something because you're passionate about it... when you are seeking to always improve yourself... then no matter what the goal is then you can feel success when you reach it.

I didn't have a goal to win my age group or even place in it for that matter. I DID intend to go out there and run as hard as I could. I did and because of that I feel success.

But the award is nice, too. :)


heidi said...

that is wicked awesome!!! Congrats gal! :)

Chris said...

AH! That is so freaking cool! Way to go! It's awesome what your body can do when you get your mind right.

Crazy Daisy said...

CONGRATS! that is awesome!

Sarah said...

That is sooo cool! Congrats on the hardware :)

Eric said...

great run The book of Karnzes came out today I just staterd to read it and is really good.
Congratulations on your race

*aron* said...

AWESOME JOB!!! that is sooo exciting :) i would be stoked!

i am sooo close to being done with the book!

Quirky said...

Wow! I'm so impressed! Way to go!

Jackie said...

Way to go!

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Laura said...

Congratulations!!!! Really, really, REALLY awesome job!

This weekend I met a runner who did his first marathon having only done training runs of 5 miles. We discussed how your mind is a much bigger foe than your body. Great job overcoming it!