I’ll admit it. I’m not much of a racer. I think my lack of running talent is well documented. Especially when it comes to a 5k. They hurt. A lot. But, I’ve come to some conclusions over the course of this year as I’ve battled a couple of different issues in my life. I need to run faster. And, if you want to run faster, racing is a good motivator. Why do I need to run faster? Well, also well documented (in true TMI fashion) are my GI issues when I run. I’ve been working on my weight loss this year, and I’ve also been trying to discover what causes me to have such miserable GI distress when I run. I’ve come to the unfortunate realization that I’m just going to be one of those runners who struggle with it. I’ve identified some trigger foods that make it worse, but even eliminating those from my diet completely hasn’t eradicated the problem, especially on longer runs. So, if I’m ever going to be competitive at the half marathon distance, I’m going to have to run fast enough that a potty break won’t kill my time.
In working toward faster times, I decided I needed to add some shorter races to my calendar. If you read my blog post last week, you saw that I’ve set some goals for myself for the upcoming year, one of which is to decrease my 5k time. It’s been so long since I raced a 5k, that I really didn’t know what a good goal for that would be, so I decided I want to break 30 minutes by spring. I needed a baseline race, and since it is October & racing season is in full swing, the perfect one presented itself this weekend. The Race for Grace. A particularly fitting race title, I thought. If there ever was a person who can attest to the need for grace, it’s me. This annual race benefits Grace International World Outreach, a local international outreach ministry that I’ve dealt with in the past, so that, too, was particularly fitting for me. Be sure to click the link and read all about them, they are a wonderful ministry with far reaching effects for the Kingdom.
I touched base on Daily Mile with some other local runners earlier this week, and we planned to finally meet face to face. I was SO excited to meet Michelle & Esther. They are rocking their training plans and meeting other women who are as passionate about my sport as I am was fun and made the day special. Another Daily Miler, Gina Mooney, was one of the race directors, so I was able to meet her as well. Great race, Gina! Y’all did a wonderful job. If you aren’t on Daily Mile, it’s a fun, easy way to track your mileage, as well as meet other runners, near and far. Got to meet some of Esther’s and Michelle’s families. One of Esther’s daughters (Nikki, age 6?) ran her first 5k today & smoked it! So exciting to see little ones and families enjoy a sport together!
I had some goals for this race. My first thought was that I would be happy with a 33 minute race. I knew I could do a 32 & change 3 miler in training, so I figured 33 minutes, no problem. Then, I realized that wasn’t pushing myself enough. So, I set my sights on 31 minutes. Fast for me, but I felt like it was doable if I focused and pushed. I was really nervous leading up to race time. I ran a warm-up mile slowly and that helped some with the jitters. I had to leave my man at home, so my usual race rock wasn’t there to keep me grounded. He texted me with last minute instructions and that made me feel a little better, too. We lined up at the start, had a few brief instructions, and were off.
The pace felt good from the start, not too fast, not too slow. I could tell I was pushing it, so I pulled back just a little. First mile was right on target, maybe a little fast, but not by much. I ran another 100 yards or so, and I saw a truck on the side of the Trace, with race personnel in it. Or, so I thought. As I got closer, I realized that guy in the back of the truck looked familiar and had a bandaged leg sticking out and crutches leaned against the tailgate. That’s right, my man was there. The shock of it made me slow down a little, but in true coaching fashion, he yelled, “Don’t slow down! Run!” So, I did.
Got my water at the turn around point, didn’t slow down to drink it, but I rinsed and spit. Yeah, I’m such a lady when I run. Here’s a pic my man took on my way back by him.
The last mile got there soon enough, and I was still on target to make my goal. I kept a really steady pace with slightly negative splits. Saw the finish up ahead and turned it on for the last little sprint. I figured if Geoffrey Mutai can run the last 5k of the Berlin marathon at a 4:50 pace, I could turn it up a little higher for my sad little run. Finished in 31:12 by my Garmin, I think my official time may have been slightly faster. I’ll take it. It was enough for a third place age group finish. I’m pretty sure there were only 3 in my age group, but who cares? I’ll beat those other old broads next time ;).
I really think I left something out there on that last mile. I had a little faster mile in me than I accomplished. How about that? Gary is going to make a racer out of me yet. Who knew?
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:24