Saturday, October 11, 2008

Elation, Deflation, Realization, Visualization

Today's 5K Goal=35:00.

I've heard never to get too happy or too sad...keep your emotions balanced so that the ups won't take you so high that you crash too hard when you go down. Today was my first race in over 5 months--the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K. I was excited to participate in such a great event with a worthy cause and a great turnout. The event helped to raise more than $500,000 for local organizations involved with treatment and prevention, with a portion benefiting research and other efforts at the national level. Just being amongst all of the people, I could tell it was crowded but an estimated 10,000 participants were down there. We had GREAT weather and a start that was actually a few seconds early--which beats the usual late start!

Now for the stop reading if you don't want to hear the story of my deflation.

Runners who wished to be timed were required to pay $5 extra and received a chip and a blue bib, to help distinguish the timed participants from the others. When I went to line up, I looked for blue bibs so that I could get to the front with the other runners. The problem was, I saw about one blue bib for every 7 or 8 people in any given several feet radius. At the start, runners were having to get past people holding hands, walkers in lines 3-5 people across, walkers with strollers--you name it, it was in front of us and all around. Now, call me self-absorbed if you want, but runners who paid extra to be timed should have been at the front while everyone else stayed behind. I blame both the organizers of the events where this occurs AND the participants. Race organizers have a responsibility to make the race comfortable for EVERYONE--not just runners, not just walkers. This is my first year racing but in all of my races this year, not one has had pacing corrals or any sort of indication at the start where participants should run up, based on their ability. I can't imagine that doing this would be very difficult and I think it would definitely make the experience more enjoyable for everyone there. Runners can run safely and not bob and weave past people that have no business being up front holding hands and walking slow, and walkers don't have to worry about fast teen boys nearly tripping them as they walk in support of the cause.

I was frustrated at the start but soon got over it as I started to break away from the crowds of walkers. I focused on maintaining a fast but comfortable pace for me for the first mile. At mile marker 1, I was at 11:14, which was right on track for my goal. After the mile marker, I decided I needed to push a little harder and I felt good enough to do so...but at some point, I started thinking "where the hell is the half point?" LOL It was an out and back course and just as I really started getting ready to run the last half of the race, it appeared. I was a little surprised because even though I was feeling a little rough, it seemed like it was a little sooner than I would have guessed. When I got to mile marker 2, the woman called out "9:20!" I was so confused by this that I actually had to ask a nearby runner what she had just said. His reply?

"9:20. She just gave us the actual time. They don't know what the hell they're doing."

I was thinking to myself, "How on EARTH did I just run a 9 minute mile?" I know to many of you, it's laughable that a 10 minute mile is a goal of mine, but it is! So the thought of me actually running that mile in 9 minutes blew my mind. I second guessed myself and thought that if I actualy ran a 9 minute mile (which would have been the first time doing so) that I was pushing too hard and I was going to fizzle out if I didn't calm it down a notch.

The last mile+ was pretty crappy but I stayed strong and was excited to see my mom passing on the other side of the street! For the first time ever, I pushed myself so hard that my stomach truly felt like it was going to refund the yogurt and water from earlier in the morning. I kept breathing and telling myself not to upchuck, even when I ran into several puddles of someone ELSE's upchuck. LOL

ELATION: Rounding the final turn, I decided to push a little harder just to ensure a PR, even though I had NO clue what the current time was by this point. I looked over on the side and saw DBF cheering me on, checking his watch and he shouted out "Great time!" I still couldn't see the finish clock but when I did, I had to do a double take. It read 30:23. I was in disbelief and pushed in to get 30:30! I felt like I was going to topple over but I didn't and ran for some water!!

DEFLATION: Finding out that the certified 5K course you just ran and PR'd was actually poorly executed and was only 2.79 miles.

REALIZATION: There are several ways to look at this.

1. This was my first ever 2.79 mile race. 30:30 is an automatic PR.
2. A 30:30 time in a 2.79 mile race averages out to 10:55 min/mile pace.
a. At 10:55 min/mile, my estimated 5K time for today would have been 33:50, which is definitely FASTER than my goal for today.
b. At 10:55 min/mile, this is the fastest pace I've ever run in a race (my current best is 11:52) and therefore is testament to my training, my improvement and it's something of which I am very, very proud.
3. No matter what, I just supported a very worthy cause, earned a new PR for a crazy random distance, proved to myself that I DO run faster after training appropriately, proved to myself that I undoubtedly would have earned a 5K PR, and participated with my mom in her first race ever. That alone made it all worth it.


On the horizon, I have a 5 mile race and several 4K-4 mile races before the end of the year to complete--all new chances to earn an official PR, to have fun, to support great causes and to train for my first ever half next year. I'm going to keep pushing forward.

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