As you may have remembered, I went back to my hometown in NY this past weekend to run my favorite 5k – the Freihofer’s Run for Women. This race holds a special place in my heart. It was the first running race I ever entered. It is a USA Track & Field certified race and gives everyday runners the opportunity to race with the fastest and most elite female runners in the world. Pretty effing cool if you ask me! Mamitu Daska won this year’s race for the second year in a row, in 15:19.
I got up Saturday morning bright and early and had my normal pre-race breakfast of pb/banana toast, coffee, and water.
The weather was looking REALLY dreary. It was about 60 degrees, high humidity, and raining. Lovely. Luckily I had packed a t-shirt along with my running tank JUST IN CASE it was a little chilly for a tank. Good choice. Unfortunately though, I knew I couldn’t run with my iPhone. My case isn’t completely water proof, and I was worried that the skies would open up and start pouring. So I was going naked this run – electronically that is – except for my Garmin, of course.
Then we got on the road…late. I was freaking out a little as we were driving into Albany. It makes me nervous to get to a race only about 45 minutes before the start time. I knew there would be time wasted parking, dodging the 5,000+ people there to get my race packet, and standing in the 20 minute line for the bathroom. My adrenaline was up and I was a tadddddd bit irritated. Luckily, I got my number and went to the bathroom with about 10 minutes to spare. I did a few dynamic warmups and then headed to my pace area.
I was so late, and it was so crowded, I barely squeezed into an area sort of close to my pace area. It was not looking good.
My goal for the race was to beat my PR. Every year I’ve beaten my previous time in the race the year before. Last year I ran it in 27:46. This year, my goal was to break 27 minutes. In the past year I’ve lost some weight, trained for and ran a half marathon, and have run more often. I thought that maybe all this work would finally pay off. Boy – was I in for a surprise!
As the gun went off, I ran up the steep hill into Albany. The community support for this race is so cool. There’s a band at the 1k mark and another band at the 2 mile mark. The race has a really fun atmosphere. Even in the rain, people’s spirits were up. I decided that I was going to push myself during this race. I’ve learned this year that I often underestimate my abilities, and that if I push myself to a point that’s somewhat uncomfortable, I’m often pleasantly surprised by the results. So I decided I was going to do this.
I ran through the first water stop at mile 1 and noticed that I was at about 8 minutes for the first mile. Holy shit! I was going fast!
Everything was feeling really good until about halfway through. At that point, my legs were getting a little fatigued, and my breathing was heavier. I remembered to relax my shoulders and pump my arms to help my tired legs. There are A LOT of little hills in the race and between those and the fast pace, the race was taking its toll.
I took a cup at the mile 2 water stop. I went off to the side and stopped for about 4 seconds to drink (I’m a really bad run-and-drink-at-the-same-time runner) and was off. Soon I hit the 4k mark. I knew I was booking it! Pretty soon, there was the sign for 400 meters left to go. HOLY SHIT! I was at 23 minutes or so. I’m going to do it!!! At that point, I kicked it into high gear down the HUGE downhill into the finish line. This thing is no joke. I was going so fast down it, I felt like I was going to fall over. Talk about a challenge in the last 400 meters! As I was running down, I saw my parents and Bernie standing in their normal spectating place and Bernie yelled out to me “You’re gonna CRUSH IT!!!” Yes I was! As the hill bottomed out, I saw the clock ticking closer to 26 minutes. I kicked it into high gear and made it in an unofficial time of 26:01. HOLY SHIT! I did it!
Garmin time: 24:55. I was on cloud nine! I did it! Not only did I beat my Freihofer’s PR by 2 minutes, but I crushed my 5k distance PR of 27:03!
Official finish time: 25:33, 8:14 mi/mile.
I had an epiphany as I crossed the finish line about running races with music. I had never run a race before without listening to music. I thought that running without my iPhone during this race would be tough and make the race boring. But honestly, I am never going to run a 5k with music again. Not having my music to distract me helped me tune into my body and figure out when to push harder or back off the pace a bit. It’s a major reason why I was able to beat my PR. The excitement of the race was enough to push me through. I had always just listened to music during races because it’s what I do when I normally run. There was never any other reason for it. Learning something new every race I run!
Readers: Have you ever had an epiphany after running a race? Any stories of breaking PR’s? Anyone run any races this weekend? Share!