Unfortunately this year it was over Mother's Day and I was nice enough to skip it so that my husband could travel to Ohio to see his parents.
Although my employer hosted a local triathlon this weekend, I skipped it because the "difficult" hill scared me. I know hard and easy are relative, but when the coworker/fitness instructor that is a total workout bad ass says something is challenging, I believe her. And know better than to think my poorly training biking legs and my sad little mountain bike can handle "challenging".
Instead I signed up for the Law Enforcement Memorial 5K. Race registration was held at Volunteer Landing and the race traveled along the river - promising to be one of the flattest races possible in this area.
I laid out my clothing the night before, and knew that my camera was right beside the door and I could grab it on my way out. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that it was in pieces thanks to my darling hubby, and while the battery was in the charger nearby, the memory card was no where to be found.
He offered to let me borrow his camera, but its the fancy kind with appature settings and the like, so it was far too bulky to carry with me in a race. (Why my husband borrows "my" camera when he has his own plus a droid is something you'll have to take up with him.)
My tummy wasn't cooperating, so I ate a very light breakfast and hoped for the best. Thankfully it wasn't an issue I had to deal with race day.
As always when racing in Knoxville, I got lost. I took the proper exit, but remembered my dad telling me to follow the road until it hit where I needed to be. I was mistaken, although I did feel pretty confident when I figured out where I was and how I should get to where I needed to be.
Traveling downtown Knoxville isn't my strong suit and I always build in getting lost time into my schedule. I still arrived in plenty of time to get warmed up, stand in line for the one and only real toilet, and get registered.
I asked a random lady to take my picture with my phone. Gotta love the picture quality of those 1980s cell phones!!
In the past, I put myself somewhere mid pack for the start. I don't want to get in the way of other runners, so I try to be considerate. What typically happens is I spend the first mile passing people with jogging strollers and walkers. Annoying when that only leaves 2 miles for racing.
This race was different - I positioned myself in the front. Just behind the sponsored runners. While it was nice not having to fight around people, it was a bit discouraging to be passed by so many people in the first mile. Especially when that
I'd discussed race strategy with a friend the day before and she'd said that I got too preoccupied at running XX:XX pace instead of just going out and running hard. I reasoned that even if I went out at a full sprint and had to walk that would still be faster than a jog.
Ashley had another great suggestion - try to run at just a few notches below a full sprint. I tried my best, and only a couple minutes into the race I was already breathing hard.
The path took me by Thompson Bowling Arena - home of the University of Tennessee Volunteer basketball teams.
By the one mile marker, I was wheezing. Gotta love that asthma. Thankfully I'd left the Asthma Girl mentality in the bathroom - Super Boo was running this race. Wheezing and all I finished the first mile in 9:20.
I have to admit that had I seen a less incredible time, I would have been seriously discouraged. My body was screaming, but the great pace meant it was all worth it. I kept pushing and tried not to listen to myself breathe.
When we passed the KUB sewer plant I tried not to breathe at all. Thankfully that section of the race was short and didn't last very long. Around that point the leaders had already reached the turn around and were passing me heading towards the finish.
Coming the opposite direction was a dude that I had chatted with a bit before the race, so I took a breath to encourage him as he passed me. At the turn around, I glanced at my watch again - if this was the half way point I was on track for a new PR and a chance at a sub 30 race. Sub 30 was my real goal, but I was afraid to hope for it.
After the turn around I tried to encourage people, but sometimes its hard to know what to say. I couldn't resist cheering when I saw and old man with a walker participating in the 5K. Dude wasn't even last!! I was just amazed that he was able to walk, much less beat people decades younger than him.
Mile 2 and my watch said I had only been out 18 minutes and change. Barring anything unforeseen I was going to do this!! Unfortunately the 3 mile spot wasn't marked, so I had no clue when to kick in the afterburners. Once I rounded the corner and saw the finished I kicked it into high gear. Only high gear wasn't all that much faster than what I had been running.
I suppose my dazzling "sprint to the finish"es have always just meant I didn't give it my all during the rest of the race. That was not the case here. As I crossed the finish I looked down to stop my watch 29:21.
I had a new PR AND had finally broken into the world of sub 30 minute 5Ks.
And I had flem in my lungs that I desperately needed to expel.
No, my phone isn't the best camera in the world but...Yes, my face really is that red. After a good run it takes me at least an hour if not more for the redness to go away.
I decided to stay for the awards. (My time was 5 minutes off placing so there was no danger of that.) I'm glad I did because I learned a little about that old man with the walker. He is 92 years old and in that race set a state record. He walked the 5K in 47 minutes and some change.
If you're not a runner/walker - that's better (by several minutes) than the pace my 50 somethings parents walked their last 5K in.
That added an extra layer of awesomeness to the race for me. I totally wanna be him when I grow up!
According to the official race site my chip time was 29:20 - I'll certainly take that extra second off!