Even a year ago I never thought I would be the first female across the finish line at a 5K. Or at any race for that matter.
See, I’m a TREADMILL runner. I only started road racing competitively back in May of 2011 (before then it was just a few fun runs here and there). The Hot Pink 5K in Roseville was the first race I remember really trying to run fast. My time was 25:55. And then, I met a real runner (who would quickly become my boyfriend), and oh Lord, did I have something to prove! 😉
The next 5K I ran, I got a race comp in exchange for advertising. It was the Race for Awareness 5K in Lodi. I improved my time by a whole minute (24:55)! Yes, I admit I ran 20 seconds faster per mile just to impress a man. But, I am more of a long distance runner, and I don’t have a lot of natural speed. I am more like a
stubborn determined freight train. Still, my confidence grows with almost every race I run, and I am getting faster. Part of this is honing skills, but I think more of it is just knowing I can do it.
I ran the Carlsbad 5000 in 2012 and my time was 24:59. I was encouraged because the course is a lot more challenging, and I knew the 24:59 would have been worth a 24:50 or so on a flat course. I chose to run the Zoo Zoom 10K after Carlsbad, and my time was 50:31. This is my standing PR for a 10K. I am intimidated to try and best it.
In the fall, I joined the River City Rebels, and I ran their annual Cross Country race “The Rebel Rebellion 5K”. My time on that course was 25:32. It was my first cross country race and one of the first times I felt like a REAL runner. I felt like my ancestors (I am 1/8 Cherokee Indian) running in the wild. The course is rocky and hilly, and the hills are quite steep. I was running with some really fast women: Jaymee Marty, Krystal Buck, Carol Parise, and some of my new teammates Samantha Lawler, Lori Wray and Karen Jeffers (currently the fastest woman on our team). That day, all I wanted was not to suck or come in last place. 😉 I didn’t do either.
PS: It’s a great race and I highly recommend you join us for the next one. There is also people’s race for all speeds and fitness levels.
Then last December, I ran the Woodland Holiday Mile, and my time was 7:25. This is not at all an elite time, but this is amazing for someone who used to run a 9 or 10 minute mile at maximum speed. I won 3rd female overall at the race, and my confidence level was boosted so much that I signed up for a race the very next day. The Fit for Girls 5K. I just HAD to try and beat my 24:55 road PR. I improved my time to 24:32 and I won 3rd in my division. 🙂 I couldn’t believe I was earning things other than finisher’s medals. Surreal.
So, I waited until this month to try and PR again with the Girls on the Run 5K. The conditions were perfect. The race is exactly 1.4 miles from my house, giving me a great little warmup run on my way to the starting line. Looking around at everyone, I never imagined the outcome of the race. Once the race began, all I could think of was Andy telling me to go out fast and that I needed a 7:50 mile. I think I might have run a 7:35 or 7:40. All I knew was that there were only 5 people ahead of me and I could actually see the cyclists. Whaa?
Now, I am sure it was perfectly strange for the kids ahead of me (I’m guessing their ages here, but an 11 year old girl, an 8 year old girl and a seven year old little boy) to have a 35 year OLD lady huffing and puffing behind them. Especially the little boy, who looked back at me strangely and every time I would try to pass him, would cleverly cut me off and keep his lead by a few feet. The other two people ahead of me were: a woman who was pacing the 11 year old (who probably would have beaten me by at least a minute had she not been running for and with the little girl–I’m not sure), and a guy in this 20s who was in the lead for most of the race.
The most surprising part of the race came at around the 2nd mile when the lead runner started walking or perhaps had some sort of shoe malfunction (I’m really not sure what happened) and I FINALLY passed those kids (all three of them, and the pacer). I took the LEAD, and held onto it for at least a 1/4 of a mile. I don’t want to exaggerate, but it felt like longer. Of course, every second of a 5K can feel like an eternity. But, every time I felt like I wanted to slow down, I heard Andy in my head yelling, “If you don’t feel like you’re dying, you’re not running hard enough!!” Well OK then! The cyclists were getting a kick out of me, I think. This short little choo-choo train huffing and wheezing and puffing, running for dear life. Like, “you’re being chased by a knife-wielding lunatic” dear life. Andy says that’s what it feels like when you’re in the lead. 🙂 Also, never look back!
It was fun for a while, but I was passed by the guy who had previously been in the lead the whole time, and another guy in his twenties. I had no illusions of winning the race, but we were almost 2.75 miles in and it hit me that I could actually be the first female across and win the award. At this point one of the two cyclists stopped to wait for the runners who were behind us, and the other cyclist kept going to lead us home. As I passed about the 3 mile mark, I heard a girl cheering, “Looks like you’re gonna get third!” I was encouraged by this at a time when I was almost out of gas. I looked at the clock and it said “23:59”. I was hoping to break 24 minutes, but I wasn’t crushed I didn’t make it. I knew I was going to PR again, and be the first female across the line, and that was enough for me!
As I finished, I looked at the clock and it said “24:18”. Mission accomplished! One of the race volunteers handed me an award. It was a $50 gift card for Athleta. Wow.
Stubbornness Hard work really does pay off. 😉
I think the shoes (pictured above) I decided to test out that day (Skechers GOrun) helped me take 5 seconds off my total time. They were sent to me from Skechers through the River City Rebels. I was really able to push off every stride and propel myself a tiny bit further. So, a big thanks to Skechers for the shoes. I plan on running my next road mile in them as well.
Well, I got the celebrity treatment from Andy that day. He opened a special bottle of bubbly to celebrate my win, and made scallops for dinner (so the pictures of him and the wine above are from that). Swanky! I need to win more often! LOL. Love that guy. 🙂
The truth is, I may never win a race again, but the importance of it all to me is how far I have come, and I know I’m going to get even faster. And if I can do it, you can do it, too!
The Girls on the Run of Greater Sacramento‘s 3rd annual 5k spring race was held last Saturday at North Natomas Regional Park. Girls on the Run of Greater Sacramento, a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization, which currently serves over 600 girls throughout Sacramento, Natomas, El Dorado Hills, Elk Grove, Folsom, Rocklin, Roseville and Yolo County. The mission of Girls on the Run is to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.
Girls on the Run of Greater Sacramento is a curriculum based youth sports program for girls in grades 3-8. The program stresses the importance of equally developing the emotional, mental, social and physical aspects of each girl. The curriculum encourages independent thinking, healthy group dynamics and problem solving and emphasizes the importance of making healthy choices. The girls, led by trained coaches and volunteers, meet two times per week for 12 weeks every spring and fall. The goal of the program is to foster a respect for healthy living while celebrating each girl. Every practice focuses on fitness, character development, positive reinforcement of each individual child, and having fun, while training each girl to run a 5K. Each of GOTR’s 12-week seasons culminate in a 5K run where parents, coaches, teachers, families and friends gather to celebrate and support the girls who, for many, are running their first 5K.