Memorial Day 5K Recap
So I’ve been running with my girlfriend for a few months now. She had embarked on the Boot Camp classes I’ve mentioned previously, and she actually did Couch 2 5K a few years ago (part of what inspired me to try it). She had wanted to try the running thing again now that she was committing to being healthier and asked if I would do some of her training runs with her.
It was kind of amazing to watch her transform. We went from running such slow miles that I counted them as walks to, at the end of her training, her literally passing me up and running faster than me. The boot camp classes, combined with her 25 pound weight loss, had improved her fitness that much. It’s inspiring to see! So inspiring that I’ve now signed up for those classes she takes; they clearly do a serious job of improving your cardio.
Since we’d trained together, we wanted to run a 5K together. We looked around for a 5K that would take place close to the end of her training and found a great one in Danbury. This race takes place on their parade route on Memorial Day, and benefits Building Homes for Heroes, an organization that helps build homes for seriously injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. I love races with a theme and a good cause, and this had both. Plus, you get to run along the parade route, which already has people getting in place to watch that; lots of spectators!
We got up to the race site nice and early, parked close by, and got the lay of the land. It was clearly a smaller race, maybe 250-300 people, but the weather was great so they were rocking the race day registrations. We milled about, stretched, picked up some swag from the Building Homes for Heroes folks and got ourselves mentally ready.
There’s just something awesome about a race. I am sure people wonder why I keep doing them, since I’m clearly not very fast or ever going to win a prize. But I was trying to explain it to my friend yesterday; the energy, the community, the everyone doing the same thing all at once, the challenge….I love it. I don’t have a competition mindset about it because I’m so slow, but I do try to compete with myself and improve my times. I always look around and am amazed that there are all types of people at a race. I used to think that they are just for skinny athletes. But there are always a great mix of people. I am inspired each time I step up to a start line, and that’s why I keep doing it.
Finally, we were off and running. As I expected, my friend pulled in front of me almost immediately. No matter. I loved the course, the crowds and the weather. It was a beautiful day for a run. I felt strong the whole time, felt confident the whole time. The first mile was flat and easy, but I could tell that I’d paced a little too fast so I slowed it down a bit during the second. I kept waiting to find the water stop to take a bit of a break, but weirdly, there wasn’t one on this course. I’ve never seen that before. I guess on a 5K you don’t really have to have them. They were lucky the weather was 50 or so because had it been 80 and humid we would have all been dropping like flies without a water stop.
Anyway, it was an out and back, although the back was definitely shorter than the out. I started passing a few people which always feels good (including the woman in the “Don’t Finish Last” shirt….she finished behind me!). I couldn’t see my friend anymore, so I knew she had to be significantly ahead of me. My RunKeeper was telling me that I would clear the race in under 36 if I kept up my pace, so I pushed for towards the end. Sure enough, as I rounded the corner for the final bit, I heard the RunKeeper tick off the 35 minute mark. I ran faster than I ever have towards the timing device (8:21 min/mile, unheard of for me) and I finished in 35:56. Not a PR, but still one of my better times.
My friend was waiting at the finish for me. She’d finished in 33:07! I am still in awe that she was able to run so fast. It gives me inspiration that if I work a little harder, I could become faster, too. So proud of her.
Here’s a photo us afterwards, taken by a Navy Seal guy who hadn’t even broken a sweat. Clearly, we had: