Yesterday I ran in my 2nd 5K race of the year, the Bele Chere 5K. (If you are wondering, Bele Chere is "an annual music and arts street festival held in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. The festival has been held annually on the last weekend in July since the late 1970s. It is the largest free festival in the Southeastern United States, attracting over 350,000 people." -Wikipedia)
My last 5K was the Shamrock Run on March 14, 2009. My time was 33:35, or a 10:49 minute mile. Given that I had only started running four weeks prior, I was thrilled to break an 11-minute mile!
Yesterday morning was beautiful! Humid, but a cool 61 degrees at race time. Dunkin' Donuts was on hand providing pre-race calories. I skipped the sugar and fat-laden donut, but, having read that caffeine can boost endurance, I enjoyed a cup of fully caffeinated coffee and half a banana before the race. (I usually drink decaf. It was so good to have the drug back....)
1300-ish people came out for this race, and the energy was tantalizing! I found some of my running buddies, the fast ones, and chatted for a bit before heading to the back of the pack (Racer etiquette. Slower runners don't start in front.)
The gun sounded. The race began. It was nearly 25 seconds before my group near the back crossed the starting line. But, this wouldn't be a problem with getting my time, I told myself. After all, I have a "chip" on my shoe that will record when I cross the start and when I cross the finish, giving an accurate time. No worries.
I felt elated as I began. My hope was to run this race in under 30 minutes, three and a half full minutes faster than I had run in March. It felt like a lofty goal; after all, in my training runs, I had yet to break a 10 minute mile for any distance, and running 3.1 miles in 30 minutes would mean a 9:41 minute mile. Probably wouldn't do that, but I hoped to do better than my previous 33:35.
I really enjoyed the first half of this run. There were so many people! The streets felt narrow and people were close. It was hard to pass (yes, I was passing people!), so I just sat back at times, biding my time until a gap opened. In retrospect, this forced slower pace at the beginning may have been what helped me in the end.
The second half was just hard. It took everything in me not to walk. I had heard that this course is one of the more difficult 5K's. That made sense to me as I struggled up and up and up the long, slow hill of mile two.
I tried to apply what I have learned about running: Sit back, relax on the up hill. Lean slightly forward on the downhill. Let gravity be your energy on the down. It is where you can make up time. Don't stride long, increase your foot turnover. And dear Lord breathe! (I had to remind myself of that one a lot.)
I finally came around the last corner, 600 meters from the finish, mostly downhill. I took a deep breath and ran as fast as I could without tripping, expending little energy as gravity was on my side. The course flattened, and more energy was required. Uh oh. There was no more energy. I was so tired, and totally out of breath.
I heard my name.
My fast friends had come back to cheer us slowpokes on. Ahhh, the psychological impact of community. I was still out of breath. But I lifted my head up, put a smile on my face, and gave it as much of a final effort as I could, and crossed that finish line.
When I looked at my watch, I couldn't believe it. 28:47. I ran that race in 28 minutes and 47 seconds. I made my goal of breaking 30 minutes! By A LOT (in race terms). That's a 9:17 minute mile, faster than I've ever run.
The rest of the morning was amazing. I don't know if it was endorphins, sheer joy, or the caffeine from earlier, but I was on cloud nine, happy as a clam, fit as a fiddle (oh stop with the stupid metaphors! (Similes, technically, but I digress...)) I felt great. Happy. Excited. Proud. Accomplished. Relieved. Anything positive and I felt it. I drank in the morning and tried to relish the feeling by living in the moment. It was amazing. (The only thing missing was getting to share it with my husband, who was out of town for the weekend.)
Then I saw the "official" results:
Bib: 985 Name: DANI WEBB Run: 29:12 Pace: 9:24
29:12? But I ran it in 28:47. HUH? I later learned that the super techno-chip on my shoe started recording my time as soon as the gun went off. There was no "chip reader" at the start. Very unfair to those of us who start at the back. Net result was 25 seconds being added to my official time. But was I going to let that damper my spirits? Oh heck no! I was way too proud of myself. :)