Upon returning to El Paso from my Dallas trip last week, I immediately signed up for a race. I don’t know if it was all that time in the car during the long drive or the fact that my last race was in April, but I knew that I was ready to race. I jumped at the chance to run the J & G Silva Race 4 Hope 5k. This race was one my side of town (score!), only $20 (major score!), and benefits a woman currently fighting brain cancer. I couldn’t pull out my credit card fast enough.
Like any good race day, yesterday included:
- waking up early
- eating toast
- drinking Nuun
- arriving at the race site very early
- waiting around
I was expecting a small crowd, but over 250 runners and walkers turned out. We all squeezed together at the start line. It made me think of my high school physics teacher’s description of atoms. (Are you impressed that I can remember anything from high school physics? Don’t be too impressed; I can’t remember the name of the type of atoms or energy or whatever it was. I’m sure it will come to me weeks from now in the shower.) Eventually we got the signal to start and everyone sprinted like mad, me included.
Mile 1: 7:54
I was swept up in the adrenaline and let it carry me that first mile. If I wanted to finish faster than I did at the 5k in April – and I did – then I needed to aim for miles that were 8:15 or faster. This mile felt scarily easy. I guess that’s the power of running with the crowd. The shade didn’t hurt either.
Mile 2: 8:14
The crowd started to thin out, and I settled into my own pace. I focused my mental energy on trying to think up something encouraging to shout out when the lead pack came running by, but I never saw them. (I didn’t realize that the course was a loop instead of out and back. I eventually saw the overall female winner hanging out when I neared the end, and I yelled, “What was your time?” “21:56.” Woah.)
There was a water stop right in the middle of this mile. I took about 10 seconds to walk, sip, and splash water on myself. Then it was right back to running. I tried to pick off the women ahead of me, but it was tough. The field was very competitive, and I felt like the only women I could see were way ahead of me.
Mile 3: 8:23
At the point in the race, I was feeling the mental and physical battle. It was so hot and there was no shade. I alternated between wanting to quit and giving myself mental pep talks. Thank goodness both “Eye of the Tiger” and “You’re the Best” came on my iPod. Musical inspiration at its finest.
I managed to catch up to a teenage girl in purple who I’d been chasing for nearly half a mile. I tried to surge past her, but she held my pace. We ran together step-by-step for a minute. She asked me if we were almost there. I looked at my watch and told her, “We are at 2.4.” Her response, “2.4 what?” Haha! It took all my energy to keep running and explain to her that the race was 3.1 miles, so we had more than half a mile to go. Not quite almost there. I guess she didn’t like that answer because she fell back, and I pushed on.
last .09: 8:01 pace
For the final stretch, I dug deep and gave it all I had. I was so spent at the end that I had trouble opening the water bottle a volunteer handed to me. I left it all on the course.
- 3.09 finish time: 25:16
- Average pace: 8:10
5 seconds faster per mile than in April! This was also my fastest 5k since my PR back in May 2012. I still need to whittle the time down by about a minute to get a personal best, but I’m happy to see (and feel!) the progress I’m making. They say that success is the best motivator, and I have to agree.
After the race, I took my time catching my breath, cooling off, and enjoying the snacks. They had a great spread with all kinds of crackers, fruit, and plenty of cold water. I helped myself to some orange slices and half a banana. When the results were posted, I decided to see how I fared. I was shocked that I won my age group! I thought for sure there was no way given how big this race was. I hate downplaying my achievements, but I really think I got lucky that the faster women present on this particular day happened to be older than me. (The top 5 women in the 30-39 age group – the age group I will be joining in a few months – all finished under 25 minutes.)
Priscilla, the beneficiary of the fundraiser, said a few words during the awards ceremony and got a little choked up. It was very touching to see how much support there was for her. She handed out he medals, which I thought was a great touch. I took the moment that she gave me mine as an opportunity to wish her good health. It was a nice reminder for me that it’s not just about being faster than the woman next to me or shaving off a few seconds from my time. Running is a celebration!
Next up: The Annual Up & Running 4th of July 5k!