I enjoy running, a lot, but I’ve never been able to get over the fact that I’m not fast… I’m not even not fast, I’m what I would unfairly self-criticize as slow.
I had this goal that someday I would run a 5k under 30 minutes… my PR to date was 32:20.
If you don’t run, just believe me, that’s a big chunk to shave off of a 5k.
But I’ve been strength training, and since that race I’d come to the realization I have exercise induced asthma. And while my breathing still sucked that inhaler definitely helped.
About two months ago I told my friend and trainer, Rick, that I really wanted to run a sub-30 5k. And as he does with any goal I give him, he said, “ok” and then devised a plan to help get me there.
It involved sprints, hill repeats, hilly runs, and regular runs ranging from 3 to 5 miles.
It also required me to cut back on the lifting.
It was a long two months, I really missed the lifting time. BUT I had set a goal, so I was going to try, I had to try.
I had one training run where I pushed myself and I got 3 miles just under 30 minutes, something like 29:47.
I had zero idea how I would ever get another .10 in there.
All along my friends and family encouraged me, and listened to me obsess about it. I would come back from a run, tired and drenched, and Chris would tell me how proud he was of me.
As the race approached I knew it would be close. It would be just a few seconds either way. Then, four days before the race I came down with a head cold. Which meant my already questionable breathing was going to be rough.
But what are you going to do?
I got up that morning, excited and a little nervous. I had a plan, I would just pace myself off of my watch, and maintain a 9:30 pace. If I had to puke on the other side of the finish line – so be it!
Rick called to give me one last coaching pep talk on his way to the race he was going to shoot, and Kristi sent me a text to let me know she’d be out on the dam so she could see me run (and take pictures).
By the time I was at the start line I was impatient and ready. When the horn sounded it was very hard to slow myself to a good pace. But I remembered the one time Rick had taken me out to run the route before.
Rick: Can you keep this pace up?
Me: I don’t know.
Rick: Because you’re going a six and half minute pace.
Me: Oh (sloooooow way down)
So began my 30 minute pep talk. Which mostly involved Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” and Citizen Cope’s “Son’s Gonna Rise” playing on repeat in my head.
Just past the mile mark the GPS battery on my watch died (note to self: charge your watch the night before a race).
How was I going to have any idea how fast I was going?
In a moment of panic I almost ran back to Kristi, who I’d just passed to beg her watch off of her, but since that would just suck time off the clock (and was crazy) – I just ran. Not so fast my lungs would wheeze, but fast enough to push them right to the edge.
I could feel the surge of energy as I saw Kristi and Adrian on the way back, and began to wonder to myself, “Am I pushing myself miserably hard for no reason? Am I even going to be close to my goal time?”
But then I let it go, because it didn’t matter. You only get one chance to run each race. My first ever 5k, not knowing what to expect, I left myself with too much energy. When I crossed the finish line I had gas in the tank. That was a disappointing feeling I didn’t ever want to feel again – regardless of finish time.
First I focused on the turn off that led to the last leg of the race (from there it would be all downhill). Then I pictured Chris and Aubrey waiting for me by the finish line, and ran more. Seeing their smiling faces, and hearing them shout “Go Mommy!” was the highlight of the race.
And then I could see the clock, and it read 28:30 and my mind went blank. I felt like I was going slower as I tried to push myself, and for a second I was worried there was no way I could get myself across the finish line in time.
But I did. I knew I had done it, even though I wasn’t exactly sure on my time.
First there was heaving while I tried to not lose my small breakfast.
And then there were tears because earning a victory is the sweetest feeling.
My official time, 28:45.7, isn’t something spectacular in the annals of 5k race time, but smashing my goal WAS spectacular. And the thing is – we can all do something spectacular.
Pick your spectacular, you deserve it.