Today I ran the Village Tavern Shock Run. Originally, I was going to call this the first 5K of the season, but then I realized this is really my first 5K. The only other race I have entered was the Seaside Heights Duathlon. So, I guess for my first 5K it wasn’t bad. I finished with a time of 28:46, per RunKeeper and averaged a 9:11 mile. Most of that was because the first half of the race was downhill. Of course, this means that the end of the race was uphill. I always think that is annoying, when I read that the end of a race has a hill. I know it is suppose to be to make it harder, but as a new runner and a teacher by trade, I guess I find it frustrating.
I couldn’t believe how hard it was at the end. I really had to push myself to finish the last mile or so. I think I would have been better off if I could have convinced myself that I was out to run more milage. How could I run six miles last week and three point one seem so hard? I don’t understand this. And, it was much warmer than it has been lately when I run, so it should have been easier. I also quieted the pain in my legs with some ibuprofen before the race.
There were a lot of people there, and they all seemed so happy and to know at least five other people. Mini parties everywhere. People dressed in green dresses, tutus, and headbands with flying clovers. You could feel the party simmering just under the starting line. Enough joy and dynamic tension to make me feel excited to be there, but also a little lonely to be, well alone. I felt like the anonymous runner. Which is kind of what I was.
There wasn’t a starting gun or anything like that, at least not that I heard. The pack of people just suddenly started to move. At first, I was frustrated. There were people everywhere and I felt hemmed in. Not that I’m fast, but I like to be able to pant in open space. Finally, I was able to edge out to my left, scoot around the small blonde child running with her father and get some running space. I kept an eye on my pace and reigned in my nervous energy, keeping a pace of around 9:30 to 10:00 minute mile. And then we hit the downhills and I just sort of let myself go. I knew that I would be able to make time going down the hills, and that would allow me to slow down if need be towards the end coming up the hills. Actually, the hills weren’t that bad. The good thing about living in Oreland is that there are a lot of hills, and nothing I hit during this race was anything harder than what I was already doing. But, I was moving faster than I normally run, at least lately. My goals for outdoor runs have been to gain distance, so I am constantly trying to keep my pace at around 10:00 mile.
Last night, as my son and I were talking about it, he asked me if I was worried. Worried? Why would I be worried? And then it hit me, this was a race. I was actually suppose to be trying to win, not just finish. I was suppose to be past “just finishing” a 5K. Was I? Or, you know, try to beat my own personal best time. For me, I was happy to be showing up. In my mind, it was something I was doing for half an hour or so this weekend. It wasn’t until last night that I really started thinking about having a real goal or doing well.
Last summer when I was training for some event in the fall, originally the Pocono Challenge, and then the Duathlon, I had fooled myself into thinking I was better than I was. One race quickly and permanently shooed that from my mind. So, of course, I adjusted to trying to do better than me. A goal I am really happy with, until I have to go out and be with people that are really very good, and I have to be uber aware of the fact that I am not. But racing is the only way to really measure my progress. And yes, see where I stand in comparison with the rest of the world.
After the race, as I ran past the finish, and then meandered into the restaurant that was hosting the event, I realized that I wasn’t that tired. I should have run a little harder. I could have worked, maybe to do a little better. I should have trained for this, instead of ignoring it. But, at least I have a starting time to beat by the end of the summer. After the Broad Street this may be something for me to work towards. But it was fun, just the same and I am glad I did it. The next time, I would like to have somebody with me, to have a beer with at the end.