I am happy to announce that my first 5K of the 2014 season is completed!
In a strange twist of fate, my mom went to high school with the race director so when I first heard about the Brave American 5K via Facebook, I knew it was a sign. I was drawn in immediately by their cause: raising money for wounded veterans returning from duty. After a bit more research, I was hooked!! I got to run and my race fee went to the Boulder Crest Retreat for Wounded Warriors – a wonderful place which offers traditional and non-traditional wellness to vets in a rural setting.
Anyway, let’s talk about my favorite subject: me! If you’re a regular around here, then you know I’ve been struggling lately with running in general. The last week or so, I’ve also been bogged down with a sinus infection so I had serious reservations and anxiety about whether or not I should even run the race. Christina wouldn’t be able to make it for support either, which made my anxiety spike even more! My mom even offered to drive 40 minutes to cheer me on, but I told her I would be fine. I waffled back and forth all day Thursday and all day Friday in the most dramatic fashion (aka my norm), but at the last minute I thought: Geez girl, just go and walk if you have to. It’s not the end of the world.
Saturday morning, I set my alarm SUPER early so that I could get a serious dose of Sudafed in me well before the start time of 9:00AM. It worked like a charm and I was only mildly plugged up by the time I pulled my car into the parking lot at 8:45. I was still scared to death. I’m not an overly independent person, so being all by myself while sick and under-trained…well, let’s just say it felt like a wave of doom coming for me.
After the national anthem and a prayer, we all shuffled over to the starting line. These were the only 2 pictures I managed to snap, the view in front and behind me at the starting line:
From the start, I knew I was pushing myself a little bit too hard. Too hard to maintain, anyway, and I knew that the possibility of me hitting a wall and having to walk to the finish was very real. Once the crowd thinned out a bit, I found a comfortable pace and tried to stick around the same 4-5 runners. I took a few walking breaks every mile and tried to clear out my sinuses as best I could.
I was surprised at how flat the course was! I mean, the Ole 5K was also advertised as a mostly flat course and it was not at all. This course was pretty flat, except for one medium size hill right after mile 2. At least I think it was mile 2, I was pretty much in the zone the whole time!
Damn right I pushed myself up that hill!! I don’t want to say that this race was easy, because that would be a lie. But, I was pleasantly surprised at how much easier it was for me than the races I did last year. Emphasis on the -er. By the time we starting coming down the home stretch and I could see the steeple of the church at the finish line, I was shocked! 3 miles had just flown by!!
By the time I rounded the corner, a little crowd of people cheering had formed and it took everything I had just to keep my little momentum going. No one wants to lose gas when the finish lie is in sight and all eyes are on you! As I entered the church parking lot, where the finish line/clock were, I was taken aback. It was counting down the last few seconds and about to turn to 34 minutes!! How is this possible? Is this real? I was in shock! My current PR was 36:47. I FLOORED IT. People were probably wondering why I was trying to full on sprint to that finishing mat!! Somehow, by the grace of God and my own stubborn will, I managed to snag a new PR!
I swear to you it felt like I was floating back to my car with my 2 banana halves and a smile as big as my face!! I am so happy that I signed up for this race to begin with, but I’m also so thankful that my support system pushed me when I tried to flake out. This was exactly what I needed to get pumped up for marathon relay training!
And then I ate a muffin as big as my face. The End.
COST: $25, which went to great charity.
PARKING: The epicenter of the race was St. Stephen’s church right in the middle of Sewickley. There was plenty of free parking in the lots and in the nearby neighborhoods. I arrived only 15 minutes prior to the start time and found a spot directly across the street!
BATHROOMS: The epicenter of the race was St. Stephen’s church. It’s where the check-ins, food, prayers, and announcements were made. It’s also where we started and finished. They had 2 public restrooms which were available, but there were no other bathrooms on the course.
PRE-RACE GRUB: I saw coffee, water, and some donuts but honestly I was too uncomfortable being alone in a room full of strangers to even notice! There were options, though, because I saw people eating.
WEATHER: Training for this race was TOUGH. I have never been a cold weather runner, but boy did this race change that! Thankfully, the weather on race day was a gorgeous 32*F with very little wind.
POST-RACE GRUB: I grabbed bananas, but there were cookies and other fruit. The race organizers really made this a great event with lots of friendly people and accessibility.