Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Women's Only 5k

After 10 weeks of running dedication, it was finally time for the Women’s Only 5k and the WRS ladies to shine! The Saturday morning of the race was beautiful weather. It was sunny and cool; we were thankful those hot and sweaty days of summer were gone! For me, this race was two weeks after the horrible Race the Bar 5k and I really didn’t have any time expectations. I was just glad to finally be able to participate in this race (first attempt – injured; second attempt – injured I was able to volunteer; third attempt – not injured but had to work). I was of course hoping for a much better race than the last one, but the main excitement was to see all the ladies I help coach cross the finish line!

The race start was at 9:30 but the Running Club (GRC) wanted us there at 8:00 for pictures. I was being a single parent that weekend as my hubby was out of town working a triathlon race in VA. I figured my son didn’t want to hang out around 3,000 plus women for several hours so we both got up early and I dropped him off at my parents’ house before heading over to the race site. It took a while to get everyone together and get pictures. By the time we were done, it was already 9:00. Time to find a bathroom before race start! As expected, they were all crowded. After that long line, it was time to line up for the race.

I saw most of my group lining up and wished them luck. I found some of my running buddies and lined up with them. Janet was there, yay! In the Kirkwood 5k this year, Janet was a great pacing partner for me. She’s faster than me so I just focus on keeping her in sight. That was my plan for this race too. One thing I didn’t realize until minutes before the race start was that it was a gun start. The race was chip timed but you didn’t go through the start/finish line or cross over the mat at the start of the race; only when you finished. Does that make sense? This was my biggest race (number of participants) so far, so maybe a lot of the big races are like that. Unless you are at the very front, your finish time is going to be off. I’m not sure I like that, but in the end my chip time and my Garmin time was only a few seconds off.

The first half mile was very crowded until it started to break up. I felt good. I even passed quite a few runners (maybe I should have started closer to the front, ha!). I kept Janet in sight and at some times, we were actually running together. The course was out and back. As I approached mile two, the leaders were coming back on the opposite side of the road. I cheered on a couple of fellow GRC members. Man to be that fast! Since I didn’t want to put pressure on myself for a specific time goal, I only looked at my Garmin after each mile. The first mile was 9:50.

On the second mile, I still felt good. Just like every race around here, it was hilly. On my way up the hills it was my turn to see all the runners and walkers on the other side of the road. I cheered on all my ladies and many other friends as we passed. I approached the top of the hill, all I could see where hundreds and hundreds of women in their pink and purple shirts (this year’s race shirts were purple hmmm…) carrying signs and cheering everybody on. It was truly a sight! It felt great to run downhill. Especially because the worst hill was not far away. Mile two was 9:33.

Janet and I were actually still together as we approached that monster hill. I looked at my Garmin and for a moment, I thought I may have a chance to PR. I focused on getting up that hill without having to walk and somehow, I did it. I kept telling myself, just concentrate on the effort not the pace. Janet had passed me going up the hill but I could still see her ahead. Mile three was 9:30. I really started to think I could actually PR. But what I didn’t realize was that the worst part of this course was about to come. It finishes on a gradual uphill. Not steep like that monster hill, but the last quarter mile of this race was just plain bad!

People were cheering us on and one lady said "you’re almost there". Well, I looked up and still couldn’t see the finish line. I thought I was almost there! My legs were tired. I wanted the excitement to take over so I could sprint it in, but it didn’t. Once I finally saw the finish line I picked it up a little bit, but I already knew this would not be the day for a PR. My chip time was 30:37. My Garmin time was 30:33 and 3.15 miles. But that’s not really a big deal (who’s OCD?). Janet finished just ahead of me.

Overall, I was very happy with my time. Besides that last quarter mile, I really enjoyed this race. I grabbed some water and saw Heather (she crushed it in less than 29 minutes!) and we cheered on all the WRS ladies as they crossed the finish line. We spotted some royal blue visors coming across and it was Shelly and Amy! They finished their first 5k just under 39 minutes!!! I was so excited for their awesome time; I had to fight back tears of joy! I was so happy and proud of all the ladies in our group – not at all for what I had done coaching – but proud of how far each of them had come since that first day. All of us runners had to start somewhere and we all had the very first day of running. I remember it seemed like I was going to die after just 2 minutes of running! One by one all the royal blue ladies crossed the finish line. There were cheers, high fives, hugs and congratulations. For me, this was the best part of the day and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to coach and I already hope to do it next year.

WRS 2012 Royal Blue

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