A week or two ago, Hollie mentioned a 5k out in Rochester and suggested I come out for it. Given that Hollie doesn’t have much time left in NY before her move, and it would be a chance to meet Laura for the first time, and what’s better than racing and chatting with new friends, it took me about 18 hours to decide this was a fantastic idea – which was probably about 17 hours and 59 minutes too long.
I didn’t entirely know what I was getting myself into at first, until Hollie mentioned it was a women’s only race, and turnout was usually around 1000 runners. Um, holy crap.
I set my alarm for 5:30, haphazardly got dressed, threw together a bag, and hopped in the car. I stopped at a rest station about an hour into my drive, and I realized it was freezing outside. And windy. Apparently the wind just like to follow me to races this year.
I got to the park in plenty of time and went to go pick up my bib. I hightailed it right back to my car and proceeded to have a 20 minute debate over whether I should go with short or long sleeves (this entailed pinning and re-pinning my bib five – five! – different times). In the end, I decided I’d run in the Oiselle stripey long sleeve I had thrown in my post-race bag and thanked my earlier half-asleep self for having the foresight to pack a long sleeve tee.
I left the comfort of my car to start warming up and along the way ran into Hollie and Laura. We chatted for a bit and finally proceeded to the start. They convinced me to line up near the start with them, which was definitely a new and intimidating experience for me. Girls were doing striders off the line and everyone looked super fast. I mostly just wanted to pee my pants, but tried to keep my “I’m tough, I’m fast, I can hang with you” poker face on.
The gun sounded and we were off! Being close to the front definitely pulled me out a little faster then I would’ve liked, but after about a quarter mile, I settled into a pace that felt ok and found a small pack of girls to hang with. As I mentioned, it was very windy so I put all time goals out of my head – my only goal for this race was to run hard and stay tough – no giving up, pulling back, mentally quitting. The first mile flew by and I passed the mile marker in around 6:55ish.
Almost immediately after the first mile marker came the first hairpin turn. This was really tough for me because seeing 6-anything as a mile split tends to give me a bit of a heart attack, and the break in momentum made me kind of check in and realize that I was working, not just cruising. Mile 2 is always the hardest for me in a 5k anyway, so combining all those things gave me a momentary panic. I did my best to push those negative thoughts out of my head and focused on the two girls ahead of me.
I eventually picked off the two girls, but was then kind of alone on the course. I could tell I put some distance between myself and them, but the next girl ahead of me was too far away for me to seriously focus on at that point. As I approached the second mile marker, I could see the clock reading 13:53. I tried to start picking it up a bit but the seconds clicked by and the race official said as I approached “…13:56, 13:57, still sub-7 pace here … untiiiiiiil …. NOW.” I crossed the mile marker at exactly 14:00 on the clock and I wanted to reach out and slap the guy.
BUT I knew I only had one mile-ish to go and that I was on PR pace?! I just wanted to hang on as best I could. The third mile featured another couple of hairpin turns, during one of which I tripped over a curb. Awesome! Then a long stretch down a parking lot into the wind. Awesome! I tried to stay positive and keep pushing.
After looping around some more, I finally started to see the finish line. I was literally unable to do math anymore and had no idea if I had totally blown up and ruined my shot at breaking 22 minutes. The second I saw the clock reading 21:30-something, I kicked it into a ridiculous gear with a huge grin on my face.
Official time: 21:45
A 22-second PR.
Hollie and Laura did amazing, placing 5th and 6th respectively in the race and winning Wegman’s gift cards (umm, so awesome). I missed out on 3rd in my age group and accordingly, my own gift card, by 9 seconds but I really could care less – I was so thrilled with this finishing time on a tough course with not quite ideal weather. I’ll be back next year to take another shot at that gift card 😀
After the awards, we headed to Starbuck to warm up and chat for a bit. I had such a great time; Hollie and Laura are absolutely amazing and I was so glad I decided to go out for this race. Hopefully there will be more running/racing shenanigans in the future!