Sunday, March 17, 2013

Luckie's 5K Race Recap

Today, at the bright and early time of 5:30 AM, I got up to get ready for my first race in two years.

My last race was the Scotland 10K in New York.  That was the race where I hit the wall... hard.  I pretty much gave up running for a year at that point.  I didn't like feeling like a failure when I was always one of the last people finishing.  I got burned out.

But last April I started running again, slowly but surely, and my love for it came back gradually.  It was really hard at first, but just like last time, it got easier.  The big difference though is that when I was running before, it was all outside and mostly in Central Park.  This time it's been pretty strictly treadmill running.  I gotta say, I miss running outside!  But, more on that later...

As I made my way down to Centennial Olympic Park, it was still dark outside.  There were some festivities down at the park prior to the Marathon/Half Marathon start, but I mostly just took care of business.  I stretched a little to make sure my muscles were warm, I did my last minute bathroom break and I tried to get out of my head.  The night before I had started to get nervous.  I'd run 3 miles plenty of times since I started running again, but not outside.  I didn't want to be at the back of pack.  I wanted to have a time faster than 40 minutes.  I had lots of goals that I had placed on my shoulders and I didn't want to disappoint myself.

I watched the Marathoners and Half Marathoners start and I got inspired.  I couldn't wait to be one of them.  I felt the same inspiration at the Expo when I picked up my race packet.  I decided that I would try and find a Half Marathon that I could train for over the summer when I had plenty of spare time, and before I went back to work.  I was able to find the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Pittsburgh on August 4th.  It's perfect timing!  I will be back in NYC because I should be starting work around that time, but I will have gotten all of my long runs out of the way.  I can either fly or rent a car and head to Pittsburgh for the weekend and then head back in time before we start rehearsals.  I wanted something to work for over the summer.  I wanted a goal.  Now I have one, and I'm excited about it!

Anyway, back to the race...

After the Marathoners and Half Marathoners were off and running, it was time to line up for the 5K.  There were not nearly as many runners as I was accustomed to running with in the New York City races and I was happy about that.  Before I knew it, we were off!  I started my heart rate monitor, hit play on my music and took off at a comfortable pace.  I wanted to see what I ran naturally without pushing myself so I didn't use the Runkeeper app.  I didn't want the voice constantly updating me on my pace.  I wanted to be surprised when I came to the first mile marker.

I gotta say, Atlanta is HILLY!  More hilly than I expected.  Some long and gradual.  Some sharp and short, but each one more than what I had trained for.  My heart rate was higher than what it normally is when I'm on the treadmill and I blame that on the hills.  I was worried that the hills were going to ruin my pace and overall time goals that I had for myself, but color me happy when I reached the first mile marker and I had run it in 11 minutes and 30 seconds!  That's a minute and a half faster than what I run on the treadmill!  But, then the REALLY big hills happened.  I ended up walking up one really steep one, but other than that I just slowed down a little, kept my chin up and kept on chugging.

Before I knew it, I saw the CNN building in front of me and I realized that the end was near.  I couldn't believe it!  It seemed like nothing!  I picked up my pace for the last half mile and crossed that finish line STRONG.  It felt amazing.  I felt like I could have kept running for at least a couple more miles.  I like that feeling.

I really liked running in a city I'm unfamiliar with on a course that's mapped out for me.  I was able to just take in the sights and not worry about where I was going (or traffic lights either!) and just run.  I barely even registered what music was playing.  I love that.  I like having the music as background, but I don't like to rely on it to keep me going.

After I crossed the finish line, I was happy to get a medal placed around my neck.  Sure, it's not as fancy as those Marathon and Half Marathon medals that I see people sporting, but it's mine.  I earned it, and it's made me want more of them.

Now, for my official race/pace time.  I was happy to discover I finished the race in 37 minutes and 38 seconds.  Two and a half minutes faster than my goal.  My pace was 12 minutes and 7 seconds.  A minute faster than I've been running on the treadmill and a full two minutes faster than my last recorded race pace.  I finally have official times that prove that I'm faster and stronger.  I'm a mathematically minded person.  I believe in numbers.  You can't argue with numbers.  They don't lie.

I love my new numbers.  I look forward to these numbers getting smaller.

Today, was a good day.

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