Win, place, show

I didn’t have high hopes for my performance at today’s 5K race. Pretty much every race since December I’ve set a personal-worst, both in finishing time and physical stamina, and since the 10/20 last weekend, my runs hadn’t magically gotten speedier. So running a 5K today seemed likely to log one. more. personal. worst. When I picked up my packet and was told to grab a timing chip in the morning, I jokingly asked if I reeeeealllly had to use it.

IMG_0446My sports doctor puts on this race. B has run it all three years of its existence–the first year, I think 25 or 30 people ran it. Last year it was bigger (that one is still my 5K PR), and this year I think about 100 people participated. It’s a flat out-and-back course from Brushy Creek Park, a trail I know well.

We’ve had the windows open the last few days thanks to the sunny spring weather, but last night it dropped back down into the 50s. Perfect for a morning 5K! I grabbed my jacket at the last minute–I wasn’t going to run with it, but it’s such a small race, I could keep it on until a couple of minutes before the start and leave it on a picnic table while I ran. And I’m glad I did. The cool weather was perfect for racing, but less so for waiting around.

IMG_0472When we got to the park, we had some time to kill so we walked out into the field to check out the bluebonnets. We’ve had a damp winter and experts predicted a beautiful wildflower season. Last year this park’s field looked like an ocean of vibrant blue, so I looked forward to seeing what it looked like this year. Unfortunately, the field was kind of weedy. Bluebonnet patches clustered throughout the park, but it wasn’t the deep ocean of blue from last year. Weird, considering how abundant they are everywhere else. Still, we took the obligatory Texas Rite of Spring pictures.

The race started right at 8, so we all shoved our jackets in my backpack and lined up.

The first 100 yards or so is mulchy trail, but I still managed to start too fast. I settled down once I got on the concrete path. B and M, despite zero training, were already ahead of me, so I cranked up my headphones. My pace was faster than I expected, but it felt okay so I just figured I’d see what would happen.

A couple of little downhills helped keep my pace up, and after the first mile I still felt pretty good. Breathing hard, but manageable. For some reason my arms were sore–I need to work on holding my hands more loosely I guess!

The turnaround was a tight turn at the bottom of another small descent, and back up I went. I skipped the water stop both out and back, and when I reached the top of the last incline, I knew the most difficult part was behind me. I had about a half-mile to go, so tried to speed up a little. Over the bridge and onto the mulchy path, then my watch beeped three miles. I could see my friends who had finished and were cheering, and B was waiting too. We had to run under the finish line thing but continue for another 25 feet or so to cross the timing mats.

I jumped over the second mat, really happy with my performance. I didn’t expect to run well, but I surprised myself! I thought I pushed the stop button on my watch, and I stood around for a minute or so catching my breath and turning in my timing chip. Only when I went to check my watch did I realize it was still going. Damn. I knew it wasn’t a PR, but I was curious anyway. Considering my slow journey back from injury, I felt good about pushing myself and turning in a far better time than I thought I could.

We stood around chatting (glad I had my jacket!) while the timing folks finalized everything. We waited around for two reasons–one, to see if we won any raffle prizes, and two, I didn’t see a whole lot of kids and thought maybe B would place in his age group. Especially once it became clear the AGs were small–his was 14 and under, where in the past it had been 18 and under. I surely didn’t see many 14-and-under boys out there.

Finally, after a glitch or two, the timing people produced a list of finishing times. One after another, my friends won awards. Overall female, various age groups. B placed second, and it turned out M won his age group. They’d only announced third place and moved on to another category, so M inquired about it and was handed a first place medal!

IMG_0488At this point I was only half paying attention–I was ready to go, but we were waiting on another friend. And it was a good thing we did, because when they got to my age group, I had placed third.

I’m guessing there were only three women in my category (it also helped that it was a small race and the AGs were very narrow, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, etc.) but whatever. After a slow injury recovery and a series of personal-worst races, this was my best race in a long time. Now I had a medal to prove it!

Our family ended up with first-, second-, and third-place age group awards. My friends all earned hardware too–it was a complete sweep.

IMG_0492Not only that, a few weeks ago we’d also signed up for a Moms Run This Town virtual 5K because of the impressive Death Star medal, so this race did the two-birds-one-stone thing, logging the 5K to earn the MRTT medal.

Next weekend it’s the Cap 10K, the largest of its kind in Texas. It’s my last race for a while, so my (unexpected) performance today helps me build a little confidence going into that one. I don’t have a time goal–I just want to finish strong.

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