Last year, this was my first real 5K after completing Couch to 5K and the Warrior Dash. I had zero expectations, well, 1 expectation: to not be DFL (yeah Dead F--ing Last). My boys ran the kid race, and Pete (then 6) ran the first lap with the little kids, but still needed to do a second lap. He ran by himself, with me pacing him and cheering. I wandered off to the starting line and a few girls in their 20s started chatting with me. The eventually confessed they were intimidated by all of the "real runners" and included me in that group. They had JUST finished C25K and the fact that I "looked like a real runner" after only running for about 6 months calmed them down. I had challenged my 9 year younger Brother-in-law to the race, winner gets bragging rights. He had been in the army about 4 or 5 years prior, active duty in Afganistan, and had wanted to get back into shape. To there was a lot of excitement over the race.
|This was me, "The Real Runner" and my boys after the 5K last year. |
We're dancing with the flash mob. Don't ask...
They call it Le Tour De Commons because within the 5K, there are 2 serious down hills and 2 major uphills (the first is 200ft in under a mile). It starts off downhill and we were FLYING. I dropped back after about a half mile, but me, BIL and another woman in my age bracket were jockeying for the lead the whole race. Run, walk, run, walk. Uphill, downhill, uphill, uphill. The three of us went down the last hill with me in the rear. She finished, 3 seconds later BIL, 5 seconds later me. Then we stuck around for the awards. The woman in front of me got a medal: 3rd place for Women 30-39! Holy Crap, I came in 4th (out of 7, but still). I wanted that medal!
Fast forward to this year. I feel slower, but I can't tell if that's because I'm running longer distances or I'm transferring my slower pace to the shorter distance. So I do what any good engineer would do, check my training logs. Both year, my pre-race training runs are within 15 seconds. Third isn't out of my grasp!
|Me this year, heading towards the finish line (my boys jumped in right after this photo). |
Slower, but better dressed?
We get to the race. The kids run plays out EXACTLY the same way as last year. I start looking around and I see a large group of Modnadnock Region Milers shirts. A running club! I look for 30-39 year old women, and I see "real runners", women who have been running for decades. I look for Third Place from last year, she's not around. I look for walkers, ok, we got 4 of those, and a few old people, and that weird guy from last year who ran in jean shorts. We start and I'm flying again. The heat starts to weigh on me. The humidity. I went out too fast. Too much walking, but the air's so heavy. Finally, the finish is in sight! Pete and Brian jump in and run with me. I'm too worried about stepping on them to appreciate it. I'm hot, tired and I can see 33 on the timer. I finish. Thought my official time was 33:00, but it was 33:26 Check the standings: 10/10 for age group (67/82 overall). LAST PLACE. I was crushed (and dehydrated, but mostly crushed).
|The Start. |
Notice all of the runners without shirts and with short shorts up front?
Those are "Real (fast) Runners". See the orange shirt to the left of the pole?
That's Hubby. I'm to his right.
The next morning, I planned to get 6 miles in to cobble together a 9 mile weekend. I felt horrible and eeked out 3 miles, puncutated by a crying jag around mile 2. Made it home and flipped on the second half of the Olympic Women's Marathon. I remember a few things: the finish, Kara picking up Shalane after the race (made me cry), and Des stopping due to her injury (I was really rooting for her).
I finally looked up the final results for the Olympic Marathon and found another woman to admire: Juventina Napeleao from Timor-Leste. She didn't meet the A or B standard, but made it to the Olympics on the Universality Standard (which allows every country to send at least 2 athletes per sport). She got a personal best in the Olympic Marathon of 3:05. She knew she wasn't going to medal and yet came out and gave it everything and PR'd. That's a Real Runner.
I have 3.5 hours to finish Zooma. The 5K time predicts a half finish time of 2:33, which I don't think I'll hit (I did 2:34 on a flat course in Feb), but keeps me at my "under 2:45 goal" (maybe I should make that 2:43 to line up with the B standard?). There are going to be a lot of women faster than me. And maybe a few women slower than me. And if I come in last, I'll still finish.
And I'm still a "Real Runner".