Hi. It’s me. Heather.
Would you like to hear a story?
Last week, I was struggling through a training run. Usually, when I am struggling through a training run, I try to “play a trick” on myself. I tell myself that if I find something to distract me, I will forget I’m running, and finish before I know it.
Last week, while I was struggling through this run, I decided to give this old-trick a try. I listened to a podcast to distract me and push me through the rough spot. It didn’t work so I started another podcast. No dice. I tried some dance music. I tried some slow music. I tried some 90’s-sing-a-long music. I tried counting by 3’s. NOTHING WAS WORKING.
Then I started thinking about running. I thought about all the different emotions I’ve experienced during runs. I thought about the times I’ve been running and felt powerful, and frustrated, and encouraged, and angry. I thought about times I’ve been determined, and bored, and proud, and excited. Then I thought about how awesome it felt when I set a new 5K PR last month.
Then I remember that I never told you that I set a 5K PR last month. So I thought I could take some time to tell you the story of how it happened.
The week before the race I thought a lot about my desire to PR.
I would spend the early morning hours laying in bed, looking around my bedroom, and daydreaming of the moment I would sprint across the finish line. I would think about the different races I could run. I could start out as fast as possible and just take walking breaks if needed. I could make a distance schedule in which I preplan my walking breaks. I could aim to stay at a certain pace all the way through the run. I could focus on running slow and steady.
I thought about the pros and cons to all the possibilities. I imagined what each race would feel like. Each situation I imagined, I imagined coming in under my current 5K record. In every daydream I PR-ed.
I walked to work every day that week. Keeping my legs loose after the Boilermaker. Taking time to stretch when I arrived at the office each morning.
Each evening I did 15-30 minutes of yoga. Nothing formal, lots of down-dog and up-dog, and often ending with 5 minutes of corpse pose. During these extended moments on the mat, I would remind myself that 2011 is my year. That I am capable of more than I imagine. That it is my time, and my race, and I’d imagine what a PR feels like.
One, fabulous, Mrs. Savvy Julie came to visit for an extended weekend. She made scones. I told myself that scones were appropriate for pre-PR setting fuel.
I took half a day on Friday, in order to rest, relax and enjoy my time with my best blend. We talked about my desire to PR. We talked about what I needed to make it happen. I drank lots of water. I loaded up my IPod with a race playlist of new music from Nicholas. We played a crazy game of scrabble*. We kept things low key and enjoyed a summer afternoon.
I made this pizza dough and broke it into three pieces to put together three different pizzas. We got creative in the kitchen!
Pizza 1: Brushed dough with olive oil. Added crushed garlic, caramelized onions, spinach leaves, feta, and chicken sausage [spinach and feta flavored].
Pizza 2: Spread Tostitos spinach dip over dough. Added thinly sliced zucchini to completely cover. Spread more dip. Add spinach and more zucchini.
Pizza 3: Homemade Southwest sweet apple barbeque sauce slathered over dough. Add red peppers, caramelized onions, mushrooms, and cheddar jack cheese.
I decided that in order to make our slumber party super genuine, we all had to sleep in the same room. This including my moving the furniture in my bedroom to be able to fit an air mattress next to my bed. [After 10:00 PM] It totally worked. I fell into slumber after giggling with my gal pals about how awesome slumber parties can be.
Woke up bright and early on race day. Ate breakfast. Drank tea. Got ready with my racing pals, Emily and Liz. Tried to fight off nervousness. Took some pre-race photos.
Talked about running and racing a lot. Liz and Emily are SO encouraging and I was so happy to have them near me on race morning. Walked down to the race site. [My favorite part of this race is that it starts and ends less than a quarter mile from my apartment door. Woot!] Stood in a super long line to get our race bibs. Took some photos on the ole blackberry.
Got our bibs. Got ready. Got set.
We all planned on PRing.
Liz, the marathoner, who hadn’t really ran a 5K for a speedy time, well, ever. She had no idea how she would do, but hoped to finish strong well under 25 minutes.
Emily, who was running her 2nd race ever. The first of which she was planning to walk until about half way through when she decided to give jogging a shot. She wanted to beat 36 minutes.
Heather, who has been running longer distances races this year. I hadn’t run a 5K for time all season, and I was confident in my ability to come in under my best time, 33:45. On our walk to the park, I admitted to Emily and Liz that I secretly wanted to break 30 minutes, but I truly wasn’t sure if that was possible. I knew I would finish before 33 minutes, but I didn’t know how much faster than sub 11 per mile I would be able to round in the 3.1 miles ahead of me.
The race was awesome.ish. It was hot, and it was hard. I did not feel like I was running very strong at all, and I did have to take a few quick walking breaks, as well. I took water from every station, and loved listening to the playlist I made, which was filled with an album I hadn’t yet heard by an artist I absolutely have fallen head over heels for this summer.
I was thrilled when I passed Liz on the out and back, and she was in the top 3 females. We exchanged high-fives and seeing her so close to the beginning of the pack completely propelled me to keep fighting for my own strong finish.
I was SUPER EXCITED when I stopped to walk at one point and Emily caught up to me. We ended up running near one another for the remainder of the race, which was awesome!
As I approached the finish line, I knew Emily was very close behind me, and was happy to see Liz waiting nearby to cheer us on. Seeing her kept my spirits up at a point when I felt a bit off.
Before this race, I have always kept a bit of a “reserve stock” of energy for the last quarter of a mile or so. I usually save up this burst of energy, and have always been able to sprint through the finish line. This race was different. I was running as fast as I could throughout the entire race, and could not possibly push any harder or run any faster at the end. It was so unlike all of my previous races, and it was definitely frustrating.
I got over that frustration for sure, when I crossed the finish line in 30:29.
Knocking more than 3 minutes off my previous fastest time.
Emily reported that she crossed in 31:02.
Coming in 5 minutes under her goal time!!
Liz crushed this race, crossing in 21:27! [That’s faster than a 7 minute mile average, my friends!] Liz also placed first for our age division!
I am so proud of each of us, and for the remainder of the weekend I mentioned that we PRed about a million times.
I can not believe how close I was to running a sub 30 minute 5K. I’m beyond determined to have a kick-butt 5K some time this fall, and blow that 30:29 out of the water.
I can’t wait to tell you about it, too.
PS: *You may note via the scorebook, that I won the game of scrabble. For the record, this is the first time that I have EVER beat Jason at scrabble, out of many, MANY games. Also – this would be the first time I have ever beat Nicholas at scrabble, as well. I think that my winning scrabble laid the foundation for my PR setting. Or something.