Last year, I didn't get to participate in the Memorial Day Classic 5K in Weston. I was working doing promotions for USRS that day at two different events, and that could have been the reason, but I suspect that the real reason for skipping it last year was my aversion to the 5K distance.
I know it sounds crazy with all of the ridiculous mileage that I log all the time, but for me, the 5K just feels crazy long. In a half marathon, it usually takes me about a mile to get into the swing of things, but for a 5K, I feel like I spend the majority of my time trying to convince myself that I want to be out there running, then find that I am ok with running around the time that the distance is nearly over. Doesn't seem like much reward to cost benefit to me. So I avoid 5Ks. Even in training, while I might cut short to a 5K due to pain, or being overwhelmed by heat or humidity, I rarely say to myself that I am going to do a 5K when I leave the house. It is usually more like a plan to do 4 or 5 miles (at least).
But when I came back from the Riverboat Series, I felt like a part of myself was missing. I needed to take a little break to finally recover and let that pesky foot heal, but I also needed the mental break to remind myself why I ran in the first place. And with that break, I remembered that I run for the mental alignment that it provides, for the sense of self accomplishment that translates to heightened self-esteem, for the rush of endorphins and the increase of dopamine. I ran for me, and somewhere along the line (most likely with the intensification of that foot injury) I had forgotten what it was all about. I had somewhere along the line become too goal oriented, and too focused on being better than I had been previously, on more more more.
And so, after a brief hiatus from running, and a whole lot of introspection, I decided that it might be nice to register for a couple of 5K races to end out the season.I was ready to tackle it. I'd technically been on a break from running, but had kept up my training during the week with walking on the treadmill at the gym... and having done a couple of shorter road races on the weekends in between, so when the morning of the race rolled around, I felt prepared. I wasn't necessarily prepared for how brutally hot it was out there, or how little shade there was, but I was ready to run.
I was also able to rope husbeast into joining me for support. He is the one that really motivated me on this running journey, and while he did 3 half marathons throughout 2013, he's just not that into it anymore. I'd love him to run more, and I thought that maybe coming out there just to support me might spark some jealousy and get him motivated to start running again, but the verdict is still out on that one.
The race was fairly straightforward. It was really crowded, was disgustingly hot and there was very little shade, but the race support was awesome. No electrolyte drink, but I've noticed that while running, sports drinks make me sick to my stomach, so its not like that really bothered me. It might have been nice to have some at the finishline, but that's neither here nor there. I was left feeling really impressed with the organization of the event, and the crowd was super supportive as well. I always like a race like that.
I'm not going to say it wasnt a tough race. the no shade thing was a big turnoff, but I plodded along. and when I felt like I needed the extra support, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the coin that my friend Scott gave me as he was running to honor the fallen heroes. It was memorial day afterall, so why not take some strength from Scott's coin that is designed in memory of some brave men who gave their lives serving in the US Military? that seemed to bring me the extra boost of strength that I needed to fight the heat. And I soon found myself smiling.
Actually, after the first mile,
I found myself smiling a lot. I was really enjoying myself out there, despite the crazy heat index. I knew a lot of the other runners there too, so although I was struggling from the heat and humidity, emotionally I was also really well supported. When I got to about 2.5 miles, a group who I knew from other events and who had already finished came back for me and ran me for about a quarter of a mile until I told them that people behind me needed them more. I came into the finishing chute and saw my husband and some of my friends cheering me on from the sidelines.
I don't know if I've said this before, but I can't emphasize this enough. It is SO important to get support from your friends at the finishline. I will be writing another post about this in the very near future, but it is worth mentioning here. I've run in a lot of races in my 2.5 years of running, and when my faster paced friends wait at the finishline for me and are there to cheer me on, it feels awesome. It feels like they respect me and my finish time, regardless of how slow it happens to be. But again, not the point of this post, that will come later.
anyway, I finished the race, drank a bottle of water, then headed back out onto the course to find one of my other friends and support her in a nice strong finish too.
Believe it or not, I am ok with that time, and being last in my category. I've accepted my place at the back of the pack, and with the heat and humidity, I could have just as easily stayed at home in the air conditioning.
What's more, I was reminded of why I do this, and where the joy in running actually is. And if it takes a 5K race to be reminded of that joy, eventhough they are "ridiculously long" in this twisted brain of mine, I'll do another one any time you invite me.