isn’t a 5k supposed to be easy?

Twenty-seven minutes and fifty-seven seconds. I was aiming for under twenty five. Guess I might need to run a little faster next time.

So I celebrated having the full use of both legs again this past weekend by running the Race for Hope 5k in DC on Sunday. And now that I think about it, I suspect that the best way to train for a new 5k PR is not to spend the three weeks preceding the race waddling around on a gimpy ankle and doing absolutely NO running. But I am the boundless fountain of unfounded hopes, and I hung on desperately to this one until about two kilometers in.

It’s okay. This is one of the few races I signed up for because of the cause it supports, not because I wanted to run it. I was doing it for my friend Will, who isn’t here anymore to run it with us. I thought of him while I was trying (and failing) to keep up my pace toward the end of the race. I thought of him running a sub-five-minute mile ON THE BEACH, while I was running all out to get my nine-minute miles on pavement.

Anyway, about actually running the race.

I’ve had the curse of cold-weather races this spring. Of course, it was gorgeous on the day I was SUPPOSED to run the half and couldn’t, but this one was a bit on the chilly side. Actually, it was freezing. Actually, it might just be that I was freezing because I failed utterly when it came to dressing appropriately in the morning. But it’s not really my fault because the weathermen LIED to me. So my race day started with me and three friends standing in the wind wearing short shorts and t shirts waiting for the subway train to come. And waiting. And waiting.

Apparently, we picked the stop where the train was having technical difficulties and took 25 minutes to get there. Which led to a slightly late meeting with the rest of our group in DC. Which meant that those of us who were running were not anywhere near the front of the approximately 10,000 people who were just waking the race.

I was a little alarmed when I got to the start line and realized that the crowd was not breaking up at that point. How in the world was I going to hit the time I wanted if I was stuck behind all these walkers? I pretty much just refused to cross the start line once I got there. My time chip wasn’t going to cross that line until I had space to run. I started to sort of sidle sideways in an attempt to get to some open space on the sidewalk, which would have worked great if I had thought of it before I was actually AT the start line. At that point it basically resulted in me moving straight sideways while everyone around me attempted to move straight forward and gave me funny looks as if they suspected that I didn’t really understand how this whole 5k thing was supposed to work.

I finally got going and was doing pretty well for about five minutes. Maybe even 10 minutes. I felt like I must have been going pretty fast because I kept passing people and passing people. Almost nobody was passing me. Until…

A lady pushing a stroller and chatting with a friend sped past me. But wait. I had definitely passed her earlier on; I remembered the green shirt. Crap. I must be slowing down. I decided to pace with the stroller lady. I mean, she was pushing A STROLLER in a crowd for goodness sake. AND talking to her friend. I must be able to keep up with her. Pacing with her turned out to be a good idea because stroller lady turned out to be a pretty fast runner and probably helped my time.

I never did manage to pass her, so I became very familiar with the back of her shirt, which said that she was running for Dad, Pops, and Uncle Dan. This made me smile.

Around mile two and a half, I confess, I had to walk. I know, you’re judging me for making it that far and not being able to crank out one last half mile. But weeks of not running had caught up with me, and my legs felt like they were going to fall off. Try to hold the judgment! I only walked for about 20 feet, okay? It was too depressing to see people passing me, when I was the one who had been passing other people the entire race.

I vaguely recall that my largest concerns during the last few minutes of the race were 1) that I really needed to blow my nose but wasn’t sure if blowing it in my shirt was kosher with so many people around and 2) that many of the people who seemed to be running the home stretch faster than me were 12 years old. Cripes. The bad-ass crossfit girl can’t even beat a 12-year-old? I really need to do more speedwork and less distance.

Once I had finished, and done some fast math in my head to figure out how slowly I had gone, I decided to turn around and run back to find the walkers in my group. I did this partly because I wanted to hang out with them and partly because it made me feel like less of a slow-running failure to at least be one of those obnoxious people for whom five kilometers is not a long enough distance. It worked pretty well, although I had a lot of people point out to me that I was going the wrong direction. I hope none of them were the people I accidentally stepped on or elbowed at that start line; they would REALLY think I didn’t know how a 5k works now. First sideways, and now backwards.

Actually, the coolest part about turning around and running back was that the race ran past some fantastic DC landmarks and views that I had totally missed on my mad dash to the finish. Maybe I should make a habit of running them twice.


One thought on “isn’t a 5k supposed to be easy?

  1. Coming from someone yet to ‘crack’ the 30 minute mark, I think 27-something is fantastic! And hey, you might just start a trend with the whole moving sideways thing. 🙂

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