After 5k #1 yesterday, I was totally elated! I was happy to have it over with (after all my nerves) and excited that I met my goal of running the entire time. I was also pretty satisfied with my overall time!
The other thing I was: totally exhausted. After all of the adrenaline wore off and combined with my lack of sleep from the night before and a two hour drive up to my parents' house, I was TIRED. So tired, that I went to bed at nine-thirty, which for this night owl, is almost unheard of! I knew I also had an early start of 6:15 this morning, so I wanted to make sure I got as much sleep as possible. Turns out I just need to be racing in 5k's in order to fall asleep quickly and early!
I woke up a couple of times last night, which I attribute to nerves over this morning's race. I wasn't nearly as nervous as I was for yesterday's until right before we started running, but it was still going to be 5k in a new place, on a course I'd never even seen. Plus, I'd be running with my brother-in-law, former marine and corrections officer, who seems to just be one of those natural runners. I knew he wasn't planning on really going after the race today, because he had to work this afternoon, but I still figured I'd end up left in the dust at some point!
Race registration opened at 7, but with the race being at 9, I didn't think it was necessary to get there anytime before 7:30. We got our numbers (today I was 70) and our tee shirts (yay!) and walked around a little bit to warm up. The weather today was about as good as yesterday, except it definitely felt cooler. I think it might have been less humid, so I was definitely feeling the chilly bite in the air and spotty drops of rain. We spotted the current police class, with their shaved heads and matching tee shirts, and another runner told me they normally keep up a 10-minute pace (which turned out to be more like a 9-minute pace based on when my sister said they came into the finish). When my brother-in-law told me I could pass him and run my own pace, I asked him what he normally runs at. He said he's a pretty consistent 10-minute pace, no matter the distance he's running (unless it's a one-miler).
I mentioned that my fastest time (in training) was actually a 10:14 pace, so I told him that HE could feel free to take off and leave me behind. My legs were feeling okay, but I could definitely tell that the muscles were tired, and my right hip was really complaining - and that was before the race got underway. They had a chiropractic practice there to stretch out and tape the runners, so I thought I'd head over and take advantage of that before starting. The resident doctor asked me about any injuries, and I mentioned that I have bursitis and tendonitis in my hip, as well as trouble with my right hip. He said that if I were his patient, he'd tell me I couldn't run today.
Good thing I'm not his patient. Because I was going to run as long as my legs were not broken.
So he started to stretch me out, which definitely pushed my pain threshold in my hips. As in, I probably could have squeezed out a couple of tears if I wasn't so tough (plus, if you know me, you know how I feel about crying in front of people). He talked about this muscle and that tendon, blah, blah, blah, and suggested, along with one of the other chiropractors, that I start up with physical therapy again, etc and so on. Since PT had actually made my hips worse, I'm a bit reticent to jump right back into it. So I plan to see how the hips do and maybe I'll think about it after I run a marathon.
That's right. I said a marathon. But that's more for another post.
Anyway, they taped me up with a fancy athletic tape that can stretch the muscles and aid in getting blood into them. I was loving having to have most of my hip exposed to the general running public so that I could get taped, and I can't say as to whether it really helped me run better or not. But I'm all for seeing what works! They also gave me a number of samples of BioFreeze, which I must admit, is doing a great job of helping my hip and knee tonight, which are definitely feeling the burn of two back to back 5k's.
So the race!
I lined up with my brother-in-law and we got out our headphones. Here, I'll digress again for a minute, because Coach J wanted me to point out that he HATES people wearing headphones during races. Apparently, it's illegal (not as in against the law, but against the rules) in most races - though I didn't see any rules about that in either of my 5k's. His reasoning, which is good, is best illustrated by an experience he had - a guy was trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and was running a good pace behind a girl wearing headphones. She abruptly stopped to walk several yards in front of him, and he called out to her to move to the side so that he could pass her. She didn't hear him, because of the headphones, and when she moved right into his path, he tripped and fell. So yes, in those cases, I can see where headphones are irresponsible. I had a similar thing today with a kid who wasn't wearing headphones who abruptly stopped right in front of me on a narrow path about six inches above the ground, without looking behind him. I just about managed to avoid him. So maybe it's just about being conscientious and looking behind you when you stop or move over (which I always try to do). But I will say that I wouldn't wear headphones in a longer or more serious race. Perhaps I will just have to sing out loud to get me through...maybe Chariots of Fire (can you tell that I'm beyond tired and punchy?).
Okay, so back to today's race. They mentioned that there were 400 participants, and I could definitely tell it was a bigger race than yesterday. The proceeds were to benefit the Special Olympics, so that's a great cause to draw a big crowd for. I'd heard from another runner that the course was mostly flat (phew!), so I planned to try to keep up with my brother-in-law. My goal was to beat yesterday's time, which I know is a big no-no after racing the day before. Most of the other runners I know were telling me to go out and enjoy it, but not expect to run as fast, because I would be tired. But I'm such a type-A personality that even though I mostly wanted to just finish this whole race running, I *really* wanted to beat my time.
A police siren blared to start off the race (gotta love a police-hosted race, so many cops there!), and we were off! I started a timer on my phone so that I could tell roughly how I was doing time-wise. With so many runners sticking to a narrow path (we were in a park, not on the road like yesterday), it was tough to find a good pace right away, and I was worried it would really slow us down. We had to speed up a bit a couple of times to pass people and find some space, and I could definitely feel those little bursts of speed in my tired muscles. I reminded myself that I always feel tired for the first mile, and just thought about hanging in there.
Although I was very good yesterday about starting slower than I thought I should, thanks to everyone's advice, today, we definitely started a bit faster than I normally would have. I could feel myself get tired quickly and fell back a few steps from my brother-in-law. The back of his tee shirt said "Make it Happen," so as long as I was able to keep that in front of me, I felt pretty good. They didn't seem to have any mile markers, so it was anyone's guess as to what we ran the first mile in. I knew my general time should have had me between ten and eleven minutes, so I used that as my mental marker for the first mile. I was really tired by the end of that first mile, and struggling a bit. I fell back a bit from my brother-in-law, who was so nice and slowed down so that I could keep up with him - he did that a couple of times, and really didn't have to. I definitely credit him for encouraging me to end up where I did at the end of the race. My sister picked a good guy!
As we were well into mile 2, I started to think that it must be the hardest mile of a 5k race, because you're past the excitement of the first mile, but not yet into the final push of the last mile. I still had no idea of where the end of the second mile was, but when I saw a second water station, with a small "#2 mile" sign and checked my stopwatch, I was pumped to see it was at 19:52. I knew I'd started it a few seconds late, but if we were keeping up a 10 minute pace and I could put in a big push for the third mile, I knew we'd finish strong!
I really focused on leading with my hips that last mile, which seemed to help me feel less tired. I pushed myself hard, and even with a couple of little hills, managed to mostly keep up with my brother in law. By this point, a LOT of people had passed us - I guess a police race really brings out the true athletes, because almost everyone looked to be in great shape. There were a couple of people who looked pretty strong at the beginning, but ended up walking after the first mile, so that was encouraging for me. But it was still tough to be passed by so many people! I had to remember that running is more about me battling myself and not competing against other people, but I am naturally a bit competitive.
As the lights of the police cruiser came into sight, we knew that the end was near! On the big race clock, I could see it counting up from 30 minutes still - holy cow!! My brother-in-law and I put on a BIG burst of speed (just like I did yesterday), but I really don't know how I managed it because I was SO much more tired at the end of the race. We crossed the finish line at 31:02, giving me a 10-minute pace today - WA-FRICKEN-HOO!! Not only is that my fastest time EVER, but it's also 1:45 FASTER than yesterday!
I wanted to throw a party!
I wanted to lie down.
But instead, we walked a bit to keep from cramping up, grabbed half a banana and some water and celebrated with my sister, my niece, and my mom, who were there to cheer us on today! Yay! Since it was raining, we didn't want to stick around, and a celebration pancake breakfast was calling our names. So we headed to our hometown Jersey diner (ah...) for a well-deserved breakfast. It tasted so good!
FINALLY, they posted the race results online, in a place that I could find them - only took a few hours of web searching. Looks like I came in with an official 10:00 pace - WOO HOO! And I was 179/311, which, when I look at yesterday's race, I realize that I came in in the top 75% yesterday, but today, I came in in the top 58% - WOW! For my age group, I was still #9, but out of 17 this time, putting me in the top 53%, up from 60% yesterday. And I beat most of the younger girls in my age group - only four of the girls in my age group who beat me were younger than 28 (9 total girls with faster times were younger than 28)! It also looks like I came in 50th out of 126 women, so in the top 40% - cool! Now I am totally excited about today's race!! But mostly, I'm just thrilled that I got my first ever 5k done (cross that off my life goals list!) and that I ran two great (for me) races back to back. Yay!
So after another two hour drive back home (plus 30 minutes each way to both races), I am so tired and so sore, along with being SO happy. My hip does not thank me for running, and for the first time since I've started running, I'm feeling some real soreness & tightness in my muscles. I love it.
I talked to Coach J earlier, who has already got me thinking about my next step (no rest for the weary). He wants me to run again on Tuesday, so my body doesn't have too much time off, and I think that makes sense (though I *was* hoping for a Wednesday run). He says I can take as much time as I need to run my usual 3.4, but I need to run it. I'm ready. Well, I'll be ready on Tuesday. Plus, I have to make sure to move my muscles a bit tomorrow so they're not too stiff. No running, but I think yoga is definitely in the cards as is walking my puppy (despite the seven day rain forecast). Then, I'm ramping up to running four days a week, so we can see how that affects my body, and I'm in search of a 10k for early June, to be followed by a half marathon in August or September. Ah, I can almost picture running 13.1 miles in the August heat. But I have to say that after this weekend, I *finally* feel like a real runner, and I'm definitely hooked. Though I'm also very very tired...
I just want to say thanks again to all my family and friends (real life and online), whose support, enthusiasm, and advice both got me through my early run/walk days and this weekend's two 5k's. If I was alone in this, I definitely would have stopped on day 1 and everyone's strong belief in me means more to me than I can ever say.