I am less than 1 mile in and my mouth is like dirt. I can’t muster up one drop of saliva. I’m beyond dry and with every breath in, my mouth gets drier. I think to myself, “This is not good. How could my mouth be this dry already? Is it the heat? I drank so much water leading up to this race to hydrate. What is going on?”
“It is so f*&$ing hot out!” I can feel the sweat dripping off my brow into my eyes. It’s burning. I grab the strap of my tank top to wipe it away from underneath my sunglasses that are so necessary tonight to block the bright, beating sun. Thank God I made the decision to wear sunglasses. I never wear them while running, but something told me not to leave them behind tonight.
I have no idea what my pace is and for a moment I don’t care. I can feel my legs floating beneath me and I’m having fun. I’m happy. I haven’t looked anywhere but up at the beautiful sky above me as I pound the pavement below me. I hear my breath and know that whatever my pace is, it’s good. My breathing is controlled and I feel good. Without even looking down, I remember the Momentum Motivate Wrap that I’m wearing that says “No Excuses” and that becomes my mantra. “No excuses. Bust ass. Run until you finish.”
I hit the first mile marker and don’t look down as my Garmin buzzes alerting me that I’m about 1/3 of the way done this 5K. I can’t help but notice the large timing clock to my right and glance briefly yet long enough to see 7:27…I think to myself, “Oh my God…you can do this!”
I remember driving along the course before the start and seeing the water stop around 1.5 miles. It’s super hot out and my mouth is still dry as a desert. As I near that water stop there is a spectator holding a sprinkler out and as I run right through it I yell, “Thank you!” Best. Sprinkler. Ever. Exactly what I needed in the heat. I grab a cup of water at the hydration station and manage to get one splash into my mouth as I continue to run. Best. Water. Ever. Just the distraction I needed to shift my thoughts…
Except my thoughts start going downhill. I start thinking, “You’re ONLY half way there. You can’t keep this pace the rest of the way.” I wonder, “Can I do this?” As quickly as the negativity enters my mind, I swat it away reminding myself, “No negative thoughts! Get out of my head. There’s only room for positivity in this brain!” And I keep going, faster than before.
“Hey Teamster!”… I turn and it’s my running buddy. Best. Timing. Ever. I was so happy to see her! She was crushing it and looking great! I thought to myself, “You’ve got this. Get to mile 2. Run the mile you are in.” And so I did. I rode every downhill there was and felt the slight breeze with every step. It was amazing…and I was still having fun!
I hit mile 2 and the clock showed 14:44. “Is this possible?” That was my first thought. After all the training I put in for my marathon. After implementing speed work and sticking with it consistently. After getting up early to get my runs in for so long. Was it possible that I was on track to beat my 5K PR set on this very same course BEFORE I had any babies? It was happening. I couldn’t believe it.
You see…before the race began I was actually nervous. I chewed my nail polish off of three fingernails before the gun went off. Soooo not like me. I haven’t really been nervous before a race, even my marathon, in as long as I can remember. I was nervous that I wouldn’t hit my goal time. I was nervous that I would finish and feel like I didn’t give it my all. I was nervous that I would not beat my previous PR. I wondered if it was even possible to beat it after having two kids and trying to get myself back into shape. There was a lot of doubt…any runners worst enemy. I kept pushing it aside in my mind, but it was there.
“No excuses. Run the mile you are in. You birthed two babies! You’re in the best shape of your life. Stay focused. Have fun.” Those were my thoughts as I passed a sign saying “0.5 miles to the finish.” I hadn’t really focused my attention on anything but the beautiful evening sky the entire race…until then. The race was a split start with females starting at one line and males at another. We all merged together soon after the start. I wanted to start with my husband because I knew he could pace me. He’s fast. If I could stay with him, I’d be bound to get a new PR. But that wasn’t an option because of the logistics. I had hoped to find him, but about 0.25 miles in, that idea left my mind and I just ran. Until that sign…”0.5 miles to the finish.” I happened to refocus my gaze from above to straight ahead and there he was, right in front of me. Just like that. I couldn’t believe it. I ran up next to him and all I could say was, “It’s me babe.” And we just kept running.
“One more 800…like on the track.” Thank God for speed work. That’s what I was thinking. Never thought I’d say that! I knew I could run hard for 0.5 miles to the finish and that’s what I did. My body was screaming at me. My breath was setting the rhythm of the run. I had to tell my legs to GO, GO, GO! Thankfully, they listened.
As I turned the corner and saw the finish line, the negativity that was once in my mind was a distant memory. “This is what racing is all about!” I crossed the line, hit STOP on my Garmin, and caught a glimpse of my watch showing my unofficial time of 23:13. (The race results E-Mailed to me showed a net time of 23:09) “I F&*^ING DID IT!!!” (Yes, my mouth is like a truck driver…) I had done it. I had chased down my PR of 23:29 from 2012. From before I had any kids. For once, I am not being shy about it…I AM PROUD! Yes, it’s just a 5K. No, it’s not a marathon. And I couldn’t be happier. I honestly was beginning to think I would never get back to the level of fitness that I once had before I had my children who are now 1 and 2 years old. I was starting to sort of give up on the idea of it and settle for my new “post baby pace”. Isn’t it great? Just when you are about to settle is right about when amazing things happen. You’re reminded that anything IS possible. You realize to NEVER give up on your goals. You remember “No Excuses!”
This might not be a traditional race recap, but it’s my recap of the Hollis Fast 5K. Yes, the shuttle bus service was great. Yes, the parking was convenient. Yes, there were enough porta pottys. Yes, the race was very well organized and the volunteers were outstanding. Yes, this is one of my favorite races overall. But what this runner will remember most about this race is that it renewed that spark in me…my love for the run. It made me feel on top of the world. It was one of my best runs ever. It was exactly what this runner needed as she heads into another marathon training cycle with yet another PR in mind.