"Ask not what your team can do for you, but what you can do for your team."
-Ian Adamson

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I am Woman 5k

This is Lynchburg's only all woman event. And despite the fact it may seem sexist, I love the idea of running with just other women. For one, I can feel truly at the front of the pack. And that was my goal at this race, to place in my age division. I looked at the past years results and was confident of my ability to place among the 100-150 runners who've run it in the past. Then I found out that this year's registration was record breaking, over 500 women had signed up to run or walk the race. I started biting my nails.

Ok, truth be told, I was already a nail biter. And, truth be told, I didn't think that the larger turn out would effect my ability to place. So we went out and ran the course three times last week. Once with strollers in 28 minutes. Once for a tempo run in 23 minutes and another time with friends to find out what we'd been running the first two times was not the entire course. I was nervous. I started chewing off the skin around my fingers having long since run out of nails.

I really wish I were kidding. I wanted to do well in this race. I wanted to come in under 23 minutes and take my age division. I wanted to prove something to someone even if I don't know whom or why.

Race morning I felt sick to my stomach and tried to think about the afternoon. Then we got to the race and I saw the start line, 200 feet long in a grassy field closing into a 10 foot path for 3 miles. I knew I had to get out there and get in the front or lose time passing people. So when the race started, I took off.

And I mean took off. I was out in front. Front. Leading 500 women. It was nothing at all like it sounds. It was terrifying. I just wanted someone to pass me. I just wanted no one to pass me. I didn't know how far behind me anyone was and I didn't know if I could pull off the pace for three whole miles. But I was out there, leading the race. Scariest moment in a race and yet maybe the most rewarding all at the same time. I'm still going over it in my mind.

I held first until a quarter of a mile. I can't tell if that hurt me or not, but I know that I held my pace around 7:11-7:18 for all most if not the entire race according to my Garmin. That's great for me and yet I'm beginning to wonder, can I hold 7? Under?

The girl behind me in the picture, she won the race in 20:20. That's just awesome, and a 6:33 pace. I'm definitely not there. But hopefully someday. At one mile I was tied for fourth place and trying to hold on as best I could but really beginning to suffer from the pace I was trying to hold. At the halfway point and mile 2 I was seventh but fighting to hold it. At mile 3 I had fallen to 8th and really fighting some negativity. However, with a backwards glance (which I NEVER do) I saw no one behind me for some hundred yards or more which made me feel a little better and my pace slipped to 7:38 for the next tenth of a mile. I don't know if somewhere deep inside me there was the ability to run any faster but it was closer enough to the surface to access it.

There in the last hundred yards I was still close enough to fight for 7th, so I let loose my sprint and gave it all I had to reclaim the 7th position and finish in 22:23, a 5k PR by almost a minute and a half.

I felt good about my time but starting in the front and being passed is far harder than starting in the back or middle of the pack and passing others. I HATE to be passed in a race and that was incredibly difficult for me to have an entire race where I basically passed no one. Even if it was only six other people it was still frustrating for my personality.

And then there were 10 year age groups instead of the customary five. And even with 22:23 I didn't take my age group. I mean I placed, I came in second in the 20-29 age division and even got my first trophy, but with a time like that I was hoping to do better.

I'm hard to please is all.

Official results below and here:

7:14 average pace
7th overall out of 459 finishers
2nd in age (20-29)

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