Yesterday I ran my first 5k in years (besides the Color Run). I can’t believe that it has been 5-6 years since my last one!
The event had race day packet pick-up from 5:30-6:25 (race start was at 6:30), so I booked it home after work, changed into running gear, and had a pre-race snack.
One medjool date with sunflower butter and two piece of Mrs. May’s Natural Crunch that I found at Sport Authority. The bites are vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free etc and it taste like a Nature Valley bar. Yum! I also had the last of the protein shake my doctor is still having me drink.
I met Ian at the ‘l’ and we hopped on the red line headed toward U.S. Cellular Field. We arrived around 5:30, I picked up my packet and a race map, and then we sat around for a while. I had waaay overestimated how much time we were going to need. The race was on the smaller side and packet pickup was a cinch. At least I had enough time to drink some water, go to the bathroom twice, and jog around to warm up.
The race environment was awesome. There were so many teams and supported of friends or family members with ALS. It was so inspiring to see all of the signs and decorated t-shirts. There was not a lack of support at U.S. Cellular Field last night!
With about 5 minutes to go, I started stretching and lined up in the start area. There were quite a few walkers/slower runners so I placed myself near the front of the pack. Rather than play the national anthem or other music, an ALS patient stood up and gave the welcome address. She spoke of struggling with her mother’s illness when she was a child and then talked about her diagnosis. Her speech was not sad and depressing but incredibly motivating. She talked about all of the things she is thankful for in life and then asked all of the runners to run for those who cannot. It seriously sent shivers down my spine!
Then it was time to run! I wasn’t quite sure how to handle this race. I knew I didn’t want to train for it or skip my other workouts but I also wanted to see what I had in me post-morning swim workout/biking to and from work/sitting in a desk all day. I crept up close to the start line and shot off when the race began.
The course was primarily a parking lot course meaning we ran along the perimeters of parking lots. However, I have to say this course did an excellent job of marking the route. We were always running between orange cones, there was no way to get off course (this is not always the case with parking lot courses). We also made a lot of sharp turns and wound our way back through parking lots. This definitely helped with variety!
After about 1/4 of the first mile, I looked down at my watch and saw that I was running a sub-6 minute mile. I knew there was no way I could keep that up and immediately slowed myself down. I had no strategy for the race except to go out and run, and it was becoming clear that this might hurt me in the end. I focused on my breathing and made sure my form was okay and felt much better by the time I crossed the first mile marker.
1st mile- 6:24 min/mile
We started crossing over to the parking lots on the other side of the stadium and I saw the lead runner exiting the parking lot as I was entering it. I could not believe how fast the guy was running! It was becoming harder to breathe (it was in the high 70′s) and I started to regret skipping the water stop right after the first mile. I kept telling myself that I was happy just running the first mile at 6:24 and that all I needed to do now is finish.
We reached the end of the parking lot and then zig-zagged back between cones. This might have been my favorite part of the course, the constant change in direction kept me on my toes and was very entertaining. We exited the parking lot and for a few seconds ran next to the runners just reaching the parking lot. One lady yelled at me that she thought I was the first girl. I didn’t believe her. Shortly after we ran past the second mile marker.
2nd mile- 6:46 min/mile
We had a straight shot to the stadium and entered at about 2.5 miles. We ran down a hallway (could see a bar on the right) and entered the concourse. This is where I unraveled. The concourse was stuffy and we were supposed to run one lap around. The lack of air plus pushing myself too hard to start was making me feel a bit nauseous. I didn’t see any volunteers in the concourse and the last thing I wanted to do was throw up and then have to figure out a way to clean it up. I slowed my pace and my Garmin lost signal. One man passed me but I didn’t care. I did not want to get sick!
Finally we ran through a door and out onto the warning track of the field. The finish line was about 3/4 of a lap away from the door. I kept my pace steady and tried not to slow down. When I was about 50 meters from the finish line I saw that the clock was approaching 21 minutes. My new motivation was to finish in under 21 minutes. I gave it all I had left and finished in 20:57.
3rd mile- no clue, Garmin lost signal
I grabbed a bottle of water and looked for Ian in the stands. He was looking at the entrance to the track so I figured he had missed me. I gave Ian a kiss and then headed back down to the field to get my official time.
The race had these little machines that you could enter your bib number and it would spit out your official time and place. I’ve never seen these before but they were pretty cool!
I was quite happy with my time, I beat my goal of 21 minutes and I was the first female finisher! Even though this was a small race, I’ve never been the first female before!
I want to say thank you to the ALS race directors for not only providing me with the chance to run an awesome 5k but also the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by ALS patients. It was truly a memorable experience!
One of the perks of running the race is that the concessions were open and you could sit and watch the all-star baseball game on the jumbo-tron. Ian and I talked about staying but decided we wanted to save our money and loaf around on our sofa instead so we headed home.
I’m off to start another busy day. Happy Wednesday!