Thursday, July 4, 2013


So today was the big day!  Stephen, my husband, put the last two months of training to the test in his first 5k race!  The 4th of July Firecracker Road Race in our little town, Wrightsville, Georgia.  GREAT benefit of running a local 5k is how familiar you are with the streets and the town overall.

We ran a route I've run a hundred times, that includes a few killer hills.  Fortunately I saw the 5k turnaround marker on the road from last year's race so we have trained on those hills.  There is nothing like running a race on a path you know! That almost never happens.  I literally can look out my front window of my house and see the starting line.

Here's me before the race (forgot to get any other race pics - sorry!)  I love this running shirt.  Didn't have anything patriotic to wear, so I went with being a hot pink/gray ninja today.

The race was fairly crowded, and the weather overcast and in the 70s.  What a blessing for a July race, where without our recent precipitation might have been in the 90s even at 8am.  We set off running and immediately I realized I was going too fast.  Stephen was comfortable and looked at me - I told him to go on ahead.  He can't help that he's 6'0 and 165 and I'm 5'6 and carrying around 188 pounds.  He took off and I paced myself down to around an 11:30 - 12:00 min mile pace.  I knew this wasn't going to be a PR (personal record) day - my PR for a 5k is 32:16.  But given I had been struggling with my IT Band syndrome in my knee for the last few months, I just wanted to be able to finish before it debilitated me.  See, around mile 2.00 - 2.50 my knee has been giving out completely and I am left to limp home.  Also, I had not run in a week.  Over the weekend I indulged in some pizza and ice cream and it took me 4 days to heal my gut enough to even exercise.  Yesterday I lifted weights.  But this would be my first cardio in a week!  I had wanted to get one speed session in before today, but it didn't happen (don't worry - learned my lesson about the pizza!).

I was determined to finish this race, and honestly completely fine with Stephen being faster than me, but I did NOT want to stop and walk due to my knee.  So I prayed.  And some friends were praying for me as well.

As I watched Stephen's bright red shirt disappear ahead of me, I focused on the road.  I know this road well - and was enjoying running in the middle of the street vs. the sidewalk where I normally run.  The sidewalk is actually pretty dangerous, lots of dips and cracks and overall uneven.  I focused on my music and my pace, and ignored the throngs of people who sped out from the starting line like firecrackers.  I knew I would be seeing some of them again. {insert evil laugh here}

As I got to the 1 mile point, I saw the race's winner who had already doubled back.  I love seeing these super fast people.  It is encouraging to see the race would have an end.  Even if I was THAT far behind him!  As I neared the killer hills, I decided to ignore them and did some people watching and speaking here and there.  I blew a kiss to my husband and told him he was doing GREAT!  At the turnaround point, I grabbed a water, took a gulp, tossed the rest and headed back up the hill.

At that point I saw what you always see around mile 2 in a race.  A bunch of people walking.  They had started out too fast and could not continue running.  I think this is usually caused by lack of consistent training, and even more of a lack of keeping your own pace.  If you are competitive at all it is tough to keep your own pace in a race.  I'm mildly competitive, but have my priorities straight.  Finishing and running the whole thing is above winning to me, or beating anyone in particular. I could have run super fast intervals probably faster than I finished this race.  But it has always been important to me to run the whole time.  I feel more accomplished as an athlete then.  Personal preference!  Many of those who stopped to walk may not care that they are walking.  In fact, Jeff Galloway created an entire method around intervals.  Those who train using his plans do walking/running intervals for the entire race.  It really all comes down to what is important  to each individual.  My goal is always to run the whole way and always will be!  I'm glad we all have different goals - it is my favorite part of racing (the passing at the end).  This is why my Garmin Forerunner 305 is my friend that I just cannot run without.  I can look down and see where I am, that I'm too fast or need to speed up, and it encourages me to keep going. 

One by one I passed people.  Even though I'm not a fast runner, because I keep a consistent pace, I am able to pass many of those people who started out too quickly towards the end of the race.  This is the part that keeps me going when it gets tough.

My knee began hurting around mile 2.3.  It was mild so I kept going and prayed I could finish.

In the last quarter of a mile, I passed around 10 people of all ages.  I was burning it to that finish line, wanting to throw up, but determined to finish and then let my knee hurt.  I passed a few people I had "picked" out earlier on and fell in line behind an old man that I didn't feel like smoking (hey I have a heart).

I crossed the finish line to see my smiling husband waiting for me with a water bottle.  I finished in 36:34.  My Garmin also said it was 3.17 miles. :)  Nothing more irritating than a mis-measured course!  haha.  4 minutes slower than my fastest time.  But all things considered, I'll take it! 

So my husband, the new runner, at 39 years old, finished in 30:54.  I was blown away by his time for his FIRST race!

Overall I will tell you I don't love racing.  This was my 10th 5k race.  I've had some awesome races, and some very challenging ones.  I do not like getting nervous before a race, and I don't plan on collecting any medals, so for me, I would prefer to run my streets on my terms, during normal days and however fast or slow I please. But something about a race makes you strive for something, be it a new personal record or in my case today, just finishing something in spite of injury or pain.

Today though, today was the MOST special race I have ever run.  Because I was incredibly proud that after being a runner for 3 years, my husband finally agreed to let me train him.  And that in 8 weeks, he managed an amazing first 5k time, better than any time I've ever registered in my 10 5k races!  He had to walk for a few feet here and there as his calves were cramping, so he said his next goal is to run without stopping.

Then at lunch he asked me what I would be training him for next.

Lord I love this man!  And I am beaming with pride right now, so proud of his hard work, dedication, and excited to get to spend more time with him training and getting fitter and faster.  I plan to weigh less than him eventually (for once since we met 14 years ago).

Today I'm thankful for my independence from sugar, processed food and junk.  So thankful I feel free to eat as much of my healthy food as I want!  The sugar dragon is officially slain, and I am on my way to the 170s very soon!

Looking forward to the next race with my honey.

Happy 4th all!  Be safe.


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