“The best pace is a suicide pace, and today looks like a good day to die.” – Pre
Saturday, was a good day to die.
I’m not sure why I felt so insistent on running the Village Fair 5k in Walpole, MA on Saturday. I don’t run 5ks. I’m a marathoner who takes 3 miles to hit my stride.
Maybe it’s because I just wanted to spend a morning in the company of other runners. Maybe it’s because there’s a definite charm to a small race. Or maybe it’s because I thought maybe I had a chance to finally place in my age group.
But whatever it was, come Saturday morning I found myself on the lawn of a church in the middle of Walpole, grabbing my bib and ready to race.
About to start my warmup I heard the DJ play “Try Everything” from Zootopia and as I sprinted across the parking lot I was singing along… I won’t give up, no I won’t give in, til I reach the end, then I’ll start again. And I smiled.
This race, was mine to lose. And I was going to give it absolutely everything I had. 😀
So I hung by the start, watching the kid milers finish, and other runners stretch as I just shimmied to the music. That’s my favorite kind of warmup.
And when all 80ish of us walked up to the start and no one seemed to want the front line, I took it. Because when a race is gun-timed (not chip), every second counts.
And I mean TOOK OFF. Full out sprint that I knew I couldn’t maintain. But that I knew would level off to something I almost could.
Because a 5k is no time for holding back. There’s no later miles to save it for. It’s truly a race. An all out, full on, sprint of a race.
I ran hard, I let those faster than me pass, and I ran my own race.
Of course, being passed by a guy pushing a stroller kinda hurt. And I turned and said to him “now THIS is kind of embarrassing” to which he laughed and replied “don’t worry, you’ll get me on the uphills”
And when my watch beeped mile 1, I dared a glance. And saw an 8:08 staring back at me. Hell yeah!!
I was also starting to breathe a little heavier than I should have been. (Where did this heat and sun come from?) So while I told myself “it’s just 3 miles, it’s okay” I also saw the small hill leading into a small neighborhood loop and reigned myself in a little.
As I saw the woman I had considered my competition stop and drink water and seem to struggle a bit I knew it was the right choice.
I also told myself that when I came back out of the loop I’d do the same.
And yet, when my watch beeped mile 2 a little before that water stop and it read 8:52, I knew I couldn’t chance it. Time for water could cut me out of a place-finish.
So I pushed on, cruised the downhill and knew it was just a mile. I could do anything for a mile.
Even climb Mount Everest. Because when we made a right turn, and I saw the hill, I was thinking “what is this? The Himalayas”?
I knew it wasn’t a very long hill, but it was a very steep hill, that seemed to get progressively steeper towards the top. But the woman standing there spectating, who yelled “Come on. Almost there. You got this!” Was just what I needed. Because I don’t like to walk hills. Especially in a 5k. And she was right, I did have this.
Fortunately, after the top was downhill. A LOT of downhill. Like almost all the way to the finish.
Which was good, because I had maybe pushed a little too hard on that hill and spent the next two minutes dry heaving. Filled with both horror and amusement and the thought of hurling during a race. (After, sure. During, not so much.). But I got past it.
And as the downhill continued and my legs took over, my brain went to the Steve Prefontaine quote I posted above. I was going to wring every last drop of everything out of me and leave on on that road.
Somehow I surged. I could hear someone behind me, tho no idea how close. I just knew I was NOT going to be passed. And as people cheered and I was waved to the finish chute I gave it every last bit. And grinned when I saw the clock.
It read 25:54.
My second fastest 5k.
One I hadn’t really trained for. One I ran 4 weeks after my second fastest marathon. And one that I still totally kicked asphalt at.
As I walked over to where my hubs and my puppy sat. I gleefully told him my finish time. And that I KNEW I had to have placed.
Because no one had passed me after about a half mile. And there was no way there were more than 2 women my age in that group.
So we hung. And we waited. And I discovered my dog likes watermelon. And I chatted Disney with a couple other runners. And then…the results were posted.
I walked over, waited for the crowd to part, took a deep breath, and found my name. And saw the #2 in front of it. And actually started jumping up and down. 😁😁😁😁😁
I ran back to the hubs and said “I got 2nd!!!!!!!” Finally…finally… for the first time ever, I placed my age group. I mentioned it to another runner who high-fived me. Joy truly is contagious.
And when they gave out the awards, and I shook the race director’s hand and accepted my medal, I was prouder of myself than perhaps ever.
Because sure, finishing a marathon is totally badass, but finally placing in your age group after almost 10 years of running? Ranks higher.
And I will treasure it always. 😀😀🏃🏻♀️🥈