Saturday, September 30, 2006

First 5K, Won an Award

It was a spur-of-the moment decision to run a 5K this morning. On Thursday, I had registered for the "Women of Freedom" 5K in Washington because I thought it was for a good cause- helping victims of domestic abuse. But I had a rough Thursday and Friday, with very little food and sleep, so when I woke up this morning, I figured I should stay in bed rather than get dressed to arrive in DC for an 8:00am race in the cold. My entry fee still went to a good cause.

I had noticed, however, that there was another 5K which was only two miles from my house, that started at 9:00am (The Navy Federal Credit Union 5K). Much more manageable, and I figured the weather would be a tad warmer. So, I checked to see if they had race-day registration and they did. I was even able to use my own Champion Chip!

I arrived at the race at 7:45, registered, and then went to Starbucks for a small cup of coffee and half a scone. I've read that a little bit of coffee is a good idea before a short race. And it was rather cold outside, too, so a warm drink was just what I needed. I'd never had a Starbucks scone before, so it was a morning of firsts.

I arrived back at the race with plenty of time to use the bathroom, stretch and warm-up. I had never run a 5K before, and I didn't have high expectations of myself for this one. I hadn't eaten hardly anything for the past two days and I was severely sleep deprived. It was also very chilly and I was wearing shorts and a thin long-sleeved top. A recipe for catching a cold (but I hope I don't!).

The race started and I didn't really have a "strategy" because I've never done a 5K before. I had nothing to learn from. So I just ran as fast as I could. I was annoyed that I had to stop for 10 seconds to tie my shoe with numb hands during the first mile, but I had no choice. I passed a time clock that read 7:30, but I didn't see a mile marker, so I thought the time clock was just placed there for no particular reason. If I had to guess my pace, it would have been 8:20. The second mile was harsh. There were quite a few hills- although none of them very steep. I passed the 2-mile marker at 15:45, and realized that I was going faster than an 8:00 pace! I was shocked because I felt like a snail-- maybe 8:30 at best! I was so cold and I felt like the chill was paralyzing. I could even see my breath. But the clock time encouraged me to keep going.

Mile three was interesting because we ran on an unpaved trail, through the woods for part of it. I've never run any part of a race on an unpaved course. We also ran up a small flight of stairs, which I found comical, for some reason. And part of the course was on the W&OD trail, which is where I do my long runs. I was rewarded at the end because the last half mile of the race had some downward hills and no uphills. I was flying. After I passed the 3 mile mark, I sprinted the last 0.1 at about a 6:40 pace, finishing at 24:14, a pace of 7:48.

Afterwards, I saw a guy that I had known in college. He had dated one of my sorority sisters and I had dated his brother for a few weeks. It was interesting to catch up with him. "Did you run the Zeta 5K in college"? He asked me. "No," I replied. "I was WAY lazy in college. I didn't even like to walk to class!" I was about to leave, but then the guy I had just met said he wanted to check his score. I didn't care too much about mine, because I used my watch and I knew my time, but I went with him to see his.

I couldn't find my name anywhere, but that's because I was looking too far down on the sheet. I was shocked that I placed 7 overall (out of 164 women) and 2 in my age group (out of 28). I honestly felt like there were so many people ahead of me, and I was such a slow poke. I didn't feel like I was running strong at all--I felt like the cold weather was just zapping me. So, I figured I would stick around for the awards ceremony, because I was actually in it. They called my name and I went up to be recognized and it was really cool. I even got to hug the Navy mascot!

It was a fun race, and a definite ego boost. The past three days have been pretty rough on me, so this is exactly what I needed. It felt great to win an award when it was my first time ever running a 5K

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