Each race I run has a different story to it, or meaning. I did run the Tomato Trot once, and never will again. First of all, the course was very hilly (when the description said mostly flat) and it is during June, the hottest time of year here. While I love the town of Slocomb, that isn't a race I will likely repeat.
Some other races, however, have found their way into my heart.
Today I did the "Loop the Lake 5k" in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. The race proceeds benefit the American Heart Association. I did this race last year, and had put together a team of runners and walkers from Chautauqua Rehab & Nursing Center. I was blessed to be able to work with these awesome people for 8 months from 2010 - 2011. I've never so quickly been accepted and loved (and likely never will again). The employees and residents there are incredibly special to me. Last years run was tough, because I had not run 3 miles consistently during the heat of the summer.
I was determined to not only run it all the way through but to attempt blow my time out of the water.
What a difference a year makes! It was also an absolutely beautiful morning - crisp and about 68 degrees. Last year it was humid and we were sweating before the starting bell.
My time last year was 42:27.
This year I decided I would keep my pace under an 11 minute mile for as long as I could and then slow if needed. I can easily track my pace with my Garmin Forerunner. It also tells me where I am and I can calculate how much farther it is to the finish line.
The course was much like I remembered it, albeit cooler and hillier than I remember. I don't have any hills to train on in my town here so that is always challenging for me.
When I came around the corner and saw the finish line I couldn't believe it said 32 something on the finishing clock. I busted my tail to cross that finish line before it crossed over 33. I still don't know my exact time as I forgot to hit the lap button on my Garmin, but I know it was 32 something.
Just about 10 minutes cut off of my time from last year. AND my fastest 5k time EVER (including in the neighborhood). I am hoping the race results will be posted in a few days so I can put a true number to it.
In the meantime, here is a picture comparison.
It's neat to me to see the difference in one year. I definitely have a ways to go, but I'm pretty happy with how far I have come. Yay for progress!
As I passed people today, I was really glad I didn't outpace myself - sometimes people just shoot out of the starting line like bullets, and end up walking alot during the race. I purposely keep my head down, keep my eye on my pace, and resist the urge to sprint too early. Instead, I keep it steady, slow when necessary and speed up when I can, saving my last quarters for that last quarter mile and burn it home.
It felt amazing crossing the finish line today. My goal had been to finish much quicker than last year, but my last 5k in April I did in 35:30 so I really hoped to get under that. I'm pretty sure I have shaved another 3 minutes off of my 5k time!
My running journey should be encouragement to anyone that you can do more than you think you can, right now. Find something you really like and DO IT! There is no big mystery to changing your own blueprint - no secret, pill, or shake - you have to MOVE more than you EAT. Bottom line. And eat the right things, of course, to fuel your body to move. Unfortunately, some people refuse to try different things thinking, "I could never be a runner" or "I don't think I could swim that far" and they short themselves out of potentially surprising themselves. TRY something. Anything. Try several things. Make it fun, challenge yourself, and take time to celebrate your achievements. Watch yourself outperform your own expectations. There are few feelings in the world like it.
I've said it a hundred times and I'll say it again. I'm not special, I'm not an overachiever, I didn't get straight As in school, I never ran track in high school (in fact, they used to laugh at me running to 1st base in softball I was so slow!) and I'm not a saint. I am a normal person just like you, and every day I decide to try to make my health even better.
How fitting this race was to benefit the American Heart Association ~ since I've essentially saved my heart from dying an early death. Happy Sigh. It's going to be a great day.
PS - how funny is this? My race number is my phone extension at work! LOL!