As much as I enjoy running, it simply hasn’t been high on my priority list since last fall. At first it was “injury” that kept me from running, but then I was content to focus on powerlifting and leave the running for some day down the road. Running a 5K was essentially a last-minute decision made in the middle of this month, and suddenly I was scrambling to get a little bit of mileage under my feet. The last time I actually ran 5 kilometres was on New Year’s eve, and I managed to run my best 5K time ever with a time of 30:52, and that was with very little running in the months leading up to that race. With that experience still reasonably fresh in my memory, I wasn’t at all nervous leading up to this 5K, but somehow the “training” seemed so much harder this time. I knew that I could finish the race, but I was approaching it without any goals or expectations…except to survive. Maybe I’m exaggerating slightly. I knew I would survive, but I just wanted to finish upright and without hurting myself. In a way, I’ve been looking past this race from the moment I signed up for it, focusing on getting it done so I could resume my powerlifting focus. This race was almost a non-entity, a mere blip on the radar, and I was going to coast right on through it.
It was rather nice not to feel any stress leading up to the race. As we waited for the race to start this morning, I realized that I was suddenly uncertain but I wouldn’t exactly say that I was nervous. How would I actually perform? I hadn’t run this far in one shot in exactly 5 months! My few training runs were often a struggle, not for my legs but for my lungs. My hip has been bothering me something fierce for the past several days. While I knew that I had the ability to finish the race, all of a sudden I wondered if I was going to do well or cross the finish line as a hobbling mess.
The race began; I ran. With my phone tucked in my pocket and my running watch sitting at home with a dead battery, I settled into what felt like a reasonable pace behind a couple of runners. I wondered if I was starting out too fast, but I was on an unfamiliar path and couldn’t have judged my pace accurately anyway. I would just have to wait for my running app to sound off my pace at the end of each kilometre.
First kilometre…5 minutes and 9 seconds! Oh my goodness! I do not think I have ever run a kilometre that quickly before. I’m thrilled if I can run a kilometre just shy of 6 minutes, so this was amazing and alarming all at the same time. I knew that I couldn’t sustain that pace for the entire distance.
Second kilometre…5 minutes and 1 second!! If I was flabbergasted before, then I was blown away by this split. How was it even possible to run the second kilometre faster than the first?! Definitely no way that I could keep this pace going…but now I was hungry for a personal best time, like a shark with the scent of blood.
Third kilometre…this was a tough one. The first half was okay, but the second half was not fun at all. Still, 5 minutes and 32 seconds was better than expected and had me suddenly believing that a sub-30 minute race might be a reality.
Fourth kilometre. This was the worst, the toughest kilometre of them all. So many times I wanted to stop, to walk because my lungs were dying and the task just seemed too hard. However, a friend told me to “kill it” this morning and I was determined to get that PB. My mantra, which I repeatedly told myself, was to just keep moving my legs. With my time after 3K, I knew that I had “breathing” room even if my pace slowed a bit. A 6 minute kilometre was still exceptionally good for me at this stage.
And the final kilometre…I thought I might be able to sprint to the finish, but there wasn’t any extra energy for such foolishness. I kept my pace steady. My app said I reached 5K about 100 metres before I crossed the finish line, but I’ll just go with the “official” time. My final kilometre was 5 minutes and 46 seconds.
Official finish time…28 minutes and 9 seconds. That’s a new personal best by more than 2 minutes! I also experienced another first…I placed 2nd in my age category! In all my races I have never once placed. As is my tradition, I am wearing my medal, or at least one of them since I got two, all day long!