A few weeks ago I signed up for a 3 race series called the Triple Crown in which competitors participate in 3 local 5Ks. Each Triple Crown competitor receives a running jacket and will vie for top 5 male and female finishers with regard to their combined finish times. While I have no chance of winning one of the top 5 trophies, I figured it would be a good way to have 3 races on my calendar.
The first race of the series was the Haworth 5K, a fairly new race and one I have never done before. I had no idea if the race course was flat or hilly or what to expect.
Usually I get nervous before 5Ks and end up wigging myself out before I even reach the starting line. Also, I have a bad habit of sabotaging my race by either working out too hard the week before, drinking the night before, going out too fast when I KNOW that pace is unsustainable, not checking to see if my shoes are tied correctly, whatever. I think I do these things because I am looking for an “excuse” for why my race times aren’t as good as they “should” be.
But this race was different. I was coming off the high of finishing the Spartan Beast the week before and was still in recovery mode. Plus, I felt like I could do anything. It was odd — I wasn’t nervous, and I was already resigned to the “fact” that at a race this big, I had no chance whatsoever or placing in my age group and that I had no chance whatsoever of winning one of those Triple Crown trophies.
One of my friends suggested that if I even remotely cared about the race, I shouldn’t go to the gym on Friday. So I took a rest day on Friday. It was a good idea because I heard that the workout involved a lot of leg work.
I got up Saturday morning, had a leisurely breakfast (my usual breakfast of 3 scrambled eggs and a baked sweet potato), and got dressed for the race. I decided to wear a bright pink tank and my favorite Nike Frees that are turquoise with bright pink trim. I drove the short drive to Haworth and parked on the street in front of my daughter’s friend’s house. Then I walked a few blocks to race registration to pick up my packet.
It was a beautiful morning — sunny and just about 60 degrees. The volunteers were very well-organized. I stated my name, and the lady said, “Oh, you’re a Triple Crown competitor”. Then she gave me my bib #360 and told me where to pick up my race shirt and where to pick up my Triple Crown jacket.
My friend from the gym was working the Triple Crown table doing race-day signups and handing out jackets. We chatted for a few minutes, and I asked her if she was planning to race. She said she probably would, and we wished each other well.
As I was walking to my car to put things away, I saw my daughter’s friend with her dad, and we said hi. I hung out at the car for a bit, getting my things together, then headed back to the start/finish area to use the facilities.
Then I ran into one of my friend’s soccer teammates and his dad. The boy’s mom was running the race, but of course the boy wasn’t running because they had a soccer game later in the day — it’s just too much for 11-year-olds. We chatted for awhile, then another dad of one of my daughter’s friends came by and I introduced everyone. The soccer boy’s mom joined us too. We all chatted for awhile about injuries, getting old, etc.
The mom and I went to the starting area together, and I situated us about 20% from the start line. There was no starting mat, so this race would be gun-timed, not chip-timed. Fine. I knew I had no chance of AG placement anyway. The mom and I talked for awhile about running, racing, etc. She runs for fun and fitness and doesn’t race a lot. She wants to still be running when she’s 90 (don’t we all?), but her 23-year-old daughter likes to compete in triathlons. That’s cool!
The race director made an announcement that anyone expecting to finish in under 24 minutes should go to the front. My friend told me that I should move up, and I said, no, I don’t feel like today is a sub-24-day.
Soon we were off! I knew the town well enough to recognize a lot of the things we were passing — the woods where the running trails are, sports fields where my husband and kids have played softball or baseball, a golf club, a single-car bridge.
I had decided to just push hard but not be totally dependent on my Garmin — run by feel. Well, the first mile I felt too fast — 7:56. By the midpoint of the race I started to have my typical thoughts of “why do I do 5Ks I hate them what makes me think they’re a good idea I want to stop”. I was passed by a cute little blonde girl and her dad, both speaking French. Second mile — 8:07, yuck.
For the final mile I decided to just run hard til I dropped. I passed a few people but didn’t really take much note of that. The dad and daughter started walking and held hands (how cute) as I’m sure he was speaking words of encouragement to her. Just as I passed, they started running again. I’m pretty sure it was something like, “Don’t let that old lady in the pink tank top pass you” but in French.
During this last mile I started to recognize that we were nearing the finish. About half a mile to go, or 800m, just like you do on the track. Run hard. Don’t ease up. Ugh, vomit is in the back of my throat, just ignore it and hope it goes away. There’s the corner up ahead — left turn and there’s the finish line. Slight downhill, then slight uphill to the finish. I see the clock….24…….tick tock. Someone yells out my name and I see another friend from the gym cheering everyone on. I smile and wave, but at this point I’m dying. Gotta beat the clock, can’t let it turn to 25….. 3 people gun it past me and I can’t catch them. Good for them, hope that lady isn’t in my age group because I don’t have the energy to catch her. 24:50..24:51…hang on, don’t stop, beat 25….24:52…24:53…24:54…YES!
OMG I think I’m going to barf or pass out. There’s a kid handing out water bottles, take one and don’t barf.
I opened the bottle and took a few sips and headed over to my friend who was cheering. We started chatting. Apparently, her daughter who is on a high school soccer team ran the race with the team. Their coach required everyone on the team to run the 5K that day, and all the girls were wearing soccer t-shirts. Her daughter finished in 23:15, not bad for a 14-year-old! She was happy to have beaten the coach ha ha.
We had fun cheering on the other runners. I saw my 2 friends pass, as well as some other friends who I didn’t know were running that day.
My gym friend’s husband and I started talking about marathoning as we’re both doing one the same weekend. He’s doing Steamtown, I’m doing Hartford. Runners always find something to talk about!
We saw a heavy guy running his heart out toward the finish, and we started cheering like crazy for him. It’s apparent that he’s on his journey toward good health, and that he’s come a good distance and still has a good distance to go. Good for him!
Lots of people at this point were walking or run/walking, some pushing strollers.
After the last racer crossed the finish line I headed over to the results. I saw my official finish time as 24:54, 4th in age group. Sigh. There’s nothing worse than being 4th in AG. I’d rather be 5th or 6th than 4th. But being one-off the awards is tough.
Then I thought I’d check to see who the female winners were. I recognized some of the names, and then noticed that 2 of the top 3 women were in my age group. They were marked as 1 and 2 in the 40-44 AG. So I scrolled down and found #3, then there I was at #4. Does that mean I won an AG award?
I figured I should hang out for the awards just in case. Sure enough, I was considered to be 2nd in the 40-44 AG. I got to walk up on the platform and have a group photo taken with the male and female 40-44 age group winners.
Wow. With 844 finishers, I had no business whatsoever winning an AG award with such a “slow” time. If I’d been in the next category 45-49 I wouldn’t have won anything, and that kind of makes me feel a bit guilty. However, I can’t help who shows up on race day.
But I guess the best thing about this race was my attitude. It was a beautiful day and I decided not to be nervous or put pressure on myself. Just go run.