Race Recap: Eastgate 5k
I wasn’t planning to write a race recap, but just include it into my next last week’s workouts post, but this race felt like such a turning point that I couldn’t help but reflect!
This summer, I took a running hiatus while recovering from an injury. I made so much progress over the winter and early spring, so it felt like a huge step in the wrong direction! Since getting cleared by my physical therapist at the end of July to return to my beloved sport, it’s been a long, slow road full of some tears and frustration. I felt slow, running felt unnatural, and it was just plain hard.
Last night, I ran the Eastgate 5k in Grand Rapids. Unfortunately, the course was a little short at 3.03 miles, per my Garmin. I felt validated when I heard several others talking about it being a bit short as well. You can tell who is a runner and who isn’t because when I’ve talked about it since, I either had people agreeing with me that it was frustrating when I told them about the distance, or not understanding what the big deal was (“well, it’s close enough!”). I did a 5k in mid-August that I knew I wasn’t ready for, so walked quite a bit. I really had no expectations going into this race, so I was pleasantly surprised when I finished in 28:48 (a 9:30 pace)!
It was a really small group of runners with less than a hundred registered. After looking at the results from the past couple years, I knew there was a possibility of placing in my age group, which was really my driving force the entire time I was moving. I started out way too fast but it felt surprisingly good! At one point, I looked at my Garmin and saw a 6:24 pace! What?! I knew I would fade really quickly if I kept up that pace, so I made a very deliberate effort to slow down. As a result of my quick start, I finished my first mile in 8:54(!!!). Right around the halfway point, my legs started to get heavy and I could feel myself slowing down a bit, but I reminded myself to embrace it and keep moving. It worked! I finished my second mile in 9:55. With about a half mile left, I could feel someone right on my tail and I made it my sole effort to stay in front. Every time this dude tried to speed up and get around me, I sped up a little bit, too. That extra little incentive was a great distraction for the last stretch of the race and really forced me to finish a lot faster than I would have without him right there, finishing the last mile in 9:36! The race director did an awesome job of having volunteers around the course to direct the runners; there were a lot of turns and I’m pretty sure I would have gotten completely off course otherwise!
It’s the second time since May that I’ve run 3 miles without walking and while it wasn’t easy, I REFUSED to quit. I knew I had those miles and that time in me. My legs were tired and my lungs were on fire (because maybe running with a head cold wasn’t my greatest idea). My brain said over and over and over that it was okay to stop for a walking break. Just for a minute, it’s okay! But, so much of health and fitness is mind over matter, isn’t it? Knowing my thoughts were big fat lies, I told my brain to SHUT IT and I pushed myself to go a little faster. I wanted that age group placement! I ran a hard and strong race, and I finished feeling so proud. I ultimately placed 4th (out of 10), but the woman who placed third finished almost a minute faster than me, and there’s no way I could have pulled that off. So, maybe next year.
Finally, I’m starting to feel like a runner again and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve got some big fitness goals for 2015 and I can’t wait to crush them (more on that for another post)! To think, all this from the girl who formerly had the “I’ll run if I’m being chased” mentality. Know you are capable of so much more than you imagine to be possible, friends!