Last Sunday I ran the Anna’s Angels 5K. I was not at all nervous about this race; in fact, I didn’t even bother signing up in advance. I was very familiar with the course, which is only about 10 minutes from my house, and had run most of it the weekend before. I picked up my good friend Mary, who was coming along as moral support, about an hour before the race started. There was plenty of time to park and register. While warming up, I met up with an old friend who has also recently started running. We passed the time chatting and catching up, and before I knew it, it was time to run. I was totally relaxed as I lined up, and remained so as I crossed the start line. The start and finish were in the same place, at the top of a hill, so jogging out was easy. Finishing, I thought, was going to be a b*tch.
I made a mental note: stop choosing races where the finish line is at the top of a hill.
My excitement started to increase as I ran down the road toward South Miami Blvd. I get a huge, and most likely unhealthy, thrill from running down the middle of busy streets. The police controlling traffic also added to the thrill factor. There were people in chairs along the road, some were holding signs. It was almost as if I were part of a parade.
Sometimes I am delusional when running.
As I turned the corner onto Miami, it hit me. All of a sudden out of the blue, I felt nervous. Or was I overly excited? Maybe I was just running too fast. My stomach felt as if someone had released 100 butterflies into it. I seriously considered vomiting. Just about this time, I passed the first mile marker. The girl there shouted out the time: 9:12. Okay, mystery solved, I was just running too fast. At best during training on the flat, oh so very flat, American Tobacco Trail I run 9:45. I had to force myself to get a grip, and slow down. It was hard, though. I was too excited to slow down. After all, there were people cheering, traffic was halted, and I was crossing over I-40 on foot. I was part of a parade, I mean, race. I was part of a race.
Finally I got control of myself, found a good rhythm, and started feeling better. I regained my focus by picking a point, something arbitrary like a sign, and running as fast as I could to it. Once I was there, if I felt good I chose another point and kept going. If I was tired I’d slow down until I felt better, then pick a new point and pick up the pace again. I wondered if this was annoying to the other runners around me, but now I’m not sure how much I actually care. It got me through.
The second half of the race went smoothly. Turning the corner back to the finish line, I could see the hill. The good news was I could also see the finish. The bad news, it was still on top of the hill. As I approached the finish I really just wanted to sprint, but my legs wanted no such thing. That is when I noticed the clock. It said 28 something, and I realized my goal of finishing under 30 minutes was in reach if I could just convince my legs to sprint. I reminded myself that I have given birth twice, once with no epidural, and commanded my legs to sprint. The last time I saw the clock it read 29:04. I was pleased.
The race results are available here. I ended up 8th in my age group, and 90th overall. My chip time, which I have learned is my actual time running, was 28:36. My gun time, which is what the awards are based on, and the clock I saw, was 29:05. If anyone asks me my time, I’m going to say 28:36. I like the way it sounds.
It felt so good to actually achieve my goal. For the next two days my legs continued to give me grief about being forced to sprint up that hill, but I kept thinking of a quote I read on Books and Bites: Pain is temporary, pride is forever.