Remember yesterday how I said I had signed up for a race and forgotten about it?
Turns out I didn't forget about it. I didn't register for it - but someone named Amy Nielson did. The race director is a friend of mine and when she e-mailed me last night to let me know of the mistake I already had all my stuff ready and was all pumped to run the race, so I decided to do it anyway.
This is my third or fourth year at this even, I can't remember. I've gone every year they've had it except last year. It was a perfect morning for a race. Beautiful skies, warm with a slight breeze. Gorgeous. Vaughn had a race way up north today so Terra was kind enough to come to the race just to watch my kids. Seriously, running buddies don't get better than her.
Since the Run for Rett is a charity event to raise money for the Northwest Rett Syndrome Foundation it brings out a different crowd than your typical local 5k event. I'm pretty familiar with most of the gals in the area who can beat me, but there were so many people there today that I didn't know that it was difficult to judge how I would do.
The crowd did bring out a lot of people that I know from church since the race director and I sort of go to church together (same religion, different congregations) and so it was so fun to catch up with a lot of people I don't see often.
Some of my favorite racing buddies, Martinho and Andy were there and it was fun to talk to them pre race. They both have their racing heads on much straighter than I do so it's always great to hear words of advice from the masters.
The course was a little difficult, the first mile and a half was downhill, and after a 180 degree turnaround the last mile and a half was very uphill with a lot of tight turns in the last quarter mile. It wasn't a direct out and back so we didn't run down quite the same hills we ran up.
As the race started I realized that my legs, okay, honestly it was my lungs, were in no condition to be racing a 5k. I haven't done tempos or speed work aimed at shorter distances in months and I knew that my recent marathon was going to come into play when we hit the uphill, though I have to admit I didn't realize quite how uphill it was going to be!
I started out a little fast, but then I realized that since I was going to completely die on the uphill either way I might as well push it a little on the downhill and build as much of a buffer as I could. I was the first female at the turnaround, but only by about 10 seconds. It was fun to hear shouts of encouragement from Martinho, Andy (who said "Don't give up!" which is exactly what I needed to hear because I was contemplating it) and many other friends as we passed each other.
I really, really died on the uphill. It was very difficult and at the same time I started having to watch out for the 3k walkers. They were all very kind and got out of the way, but I did have to veer very wide at one point because of some walkers with their dogs on retractable leashes that weren't paying attention (they weren't part of the event at all).
Martinho, who I'm usually able to beat at races, passed me on the uphill looking very strong. The steeper the hill the better he runs. I think he's part mountain goat. He reminded me to keep pushing and working hard. I could hear the other woman was right behind me and I didn't have any wiggle room. We hit the gravel path with all the corners and I just didn't have enough left in the tank to be quick on the more technical section. She passed me and beat me by about 10 seconds.
I finished in 22:12 - which is far from remarkable for me.
Yet again I had such mixed feelings about the race for a long time because thanks to all the encouragement I did not give up and I know I did the best that I had today. However there was a part of me that was very discouraged that my best isn't better. Honestly, even if I had blown my PR out of the water I would probably still feel that little bit of me wanting to do better. What a double edged sward that is - that little part of my brain encourages me to continue to work hard and do better, but makes it hard to enjoy successes.
I am still happy to be second overall, but it was difficult to get passed in sight of the finish line for the second time this year and come in as the second woman. (The St. Patty's day 10k was the other time.)
But since I'm about to start some serious 5k training I now have an excellent baseline of my fitness to work off. And the thing that kept running through my mind all morning was yet another quote from the book Running Within (seriously folks, it's amazing):
Many athletes have run a series of progressively slower races prior to a major personal best. Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson, before her 1983 Boston Marathon victory, ran a serious of marathons ranging from 2:30-2:37, each one slower than the previous attempt. This would discourage the best of us -- but not Joan. Learning from each experience running a splendid world-record performance that year at Boston in 2:22:43. By the way, her near suicidal pace (5:27 per mile) would have won every men's Olympic marathon up to 1960.
Now, I recognize that there are a few minor differences between me and Joan, but I love the reminder that (again from the book) although a delay of gratification is difficult to contend with, you will be rewarded for your persistence if you get up just one more time than you fall.
Yes, it is so frustrating to constantly feel like I'm running slower and slower, to feel like I have so much more trapped in me that I am unable to release. Maybe I just haven't found the right combination yet, but I will get there. I know that I can do this. With the right race, the right day, and the right training, that sub 20 5k will be mine. I just have to be patient and not give up.
After my race was over Tyler participated in the kids 1/4 mile race. Henry was going to do it, but he backed out, as usual, at the last minute (he really doesn't do well in crowds, he's so shy).
Tyler has come a long way in his running in the last year or so. Not necessarily in his fitness, but in his confidence level. He's not nearly as competitive as Henry (which is one of the reasons it makes it so difficult for Henry to run these kids races as a small guy, he just knows he won't win, wonder where he gets that from...) and Tyler used to just run at the back of the pack watching everyone. But now he has more confidence and works so hard.
He was so proud of himself when he finished and was so proud that he was able to pass a bunch of kids (I didn't say he wasn't competitive, just that he wasn't as competitive as Henry.). He loved his participants medal that he got for finishing and as he put it "working hard and not giving up".
I really love that kid.
He ended up "tying for third" (he really got fourth, but they messed up the results a little and gave him a medal anyway).
He was so excited to get his name called and to hear everyone cheer for him as he got his 3rd place award.
The entire morning was worth it just to hear how excited he was and how proud he was of himself. He totally had a runners high.
This event is always really well organized, stuffed full of fantastic happy smiling participants and volunteers, beautiful Rett girls, and incredible prizes. Along the course this year they had pictures of girls who had Rett Syndrome and their glowing faces were so motivating. It is so easy to forget what an amazing blessing a healthy body is. I could never give up on a 5k with those smiling faces looking at me.