Yesterday was my first 5K since having Alexandra 10 weeks ago!
I was nervous and unsure how it was going to go. Last year before I got injured I was so in tune with my body and had done so many workouts that I could guess pretty closely how I was going to run in any given distance. So the nervousness came from the unknown.
I had done a couple workouts to try to test my fitness in the last few weeks. In the past they would have been considered so easy. One mile tempo, 2 mile repeats with a minute rest, a two mile tempo and also two workouts of 4 X 400 meters with a 400 meter jog in between. I was hoping that they would feel super easy and I’d blast through them but it didn’t quite go that way. It felt hard. I did them; but I found it really hard and felt tired and sore afterwards. I guess that’s what happens when you go a full year without doing a single workout or race…oh and have a baby somewhere in there! I don’t know why I thought I could just “bounce” right back to my level of fitness I worked for YEARS to achieve after just 6 weeks of running post partum.
Getting out the door on time with a 10 week old is pretty much impossible. So we got there a little late which meant I had to cut my warm up a bit short. A year ago this would have made me really upset because I was so strict in my pre-race regimine, but I actually found myself eager to get back to the car and make sure my parents had arrived and make sure my Peanut was doing ok.
I stretched a little and walked to the starting line with my parents, Tim and Peanut. Again, I found myself hanging around more than I should have been. Tim pretty much had to force me to get to the starting line.
Once there I found myself scanning the huge crowd looking for my cutie’s little head and once I found it I could focus on myself and my race again. I saw a friend from Wayland and found myself wishing him good luck and high fiving him and starting to feel like it was just the start of any other 5K I had ever run.
A year ago I would have been in the very front row. Now I found myself questioning just where I should be starting. I tucked in a few rows back from the front and tried to feel confident.
The gun went off and it was go time. I forgot how easy a fast pace feels when you have all that adrenaline. My plan was to go out in 6:30 and see how I felt. I was running 6:15 and feeling great so I tried to just hold it there. Of course it was a RACE and I found myself picking off all the women I could see. By the time I hit the mile I was at a 6:10 pace. Mile 2 had a large hill so I didn’t even look at my time and focused only on the girl ahead of me and just raced. Mile 2 was still right around a 6:12! The last mile was hard. Really hard. I had to pull out all of my mental tricks just to keep going. I wanted to quit in the worst way but I thought about my little Peanut at the finish line and I thought about how much of a failure I would feel like if I didn’t at least finish what I started! I wouldn’t look at my watch. I felt like I had slowed down (and there was another hill that I had gone up) and I was already struggling. I knew if I saw a slow time I would get discouraged and I was really trying to stay positive. There was still one woman in my sights up ahead. I had been gaining on her but at this point we seemed to be going the same pace. I just kept looking at her and telling myself to just focus on getting her. Before I turned and saw the finish line I passed her.
In that final stretch I was so tired but I found it in me to kick a little. When I went by the 3 mile mark and my watch beeped, I looked at it and saw a 6:30. So I had slowed down quite a bit, but not as bad as I could have. I kicked the last 200 meters and finished in 19:39. I was really happy with that. Its more than 2 minutes slower than my PR, but all things considered I felt like it was a good start.
I’ll do my next 5K in a couple weeks and now I have a goal! I ran 6:16 pace for this first one so for my next one I’d like to run 6:10 pace. That ends up being about 19:12 for a 5K. Since most courses are a little long (this one was 3.15 on my watch) it may be a little slower, but that’s ok as long as I hit my paces. It seems like a lot to take off in just a few weeks, but there are a few reasons I think its doable. First, this one was my absolute first race in well over a year! It takes some practice just to get the feel of racing again and the first one is always kind of test run. Second, the course was much more hilly than I had anticipated so I struggled a bit with that. Towards the end of my pregnancy I was running all flat roads because of my hips. I’ll need to start incorporating some more hills into my runs. Thirdly, I had only been running for 6 weeks at that point with a maximum distance of 6 miles. Even though its only another couple weeks to train, my fitness is still building and each workout I do will get me more used to running fast paces again. We’ll see in a couple weeks how close I am to that goal.