This past Sunday I ran the Big House 5k, a race that ends at the 50 yard line in the University of Michigan’s football stadium. Last year it was the first “real” 5K I did after I decided I would give the whole running thing a try. Last year I finished in 29:46. It’s a hilly race, the city of Ann Arbor is not flat and the elevation change is quite significant. The first full mile is up a hill. When I went back the night before the race to look at my Runkeeper from the previous year I realized that it was a long 5k. My Runkeeper said 3.25 but Runkeeper was always off a little so I thought it could just be that. Also, the forecast called for 25 degrees and snow the morning of the 5k so I honestly was not pumped about this one. I told Justin the night before that I just wanted to have fun with it and do my best but was not expecting a PR.
We got down there, picked up our packet, and then sat in our car for about an hour until it was time to walk to the start line. It was too cold to stand outside. I decided to play around with my Garmin and set my virtual pacer to 8:15. I’ve never used it before but I ALWAYS go out fast in the first mile and burn myself out. I didn’t want to do that this time, especially knowing the first mile was a hill. All my training has been a easy pace first mile so I wanted to stick with that and let my body get into the swing of things. I don’t think I’ve ever been so calm before any race. It was freezing and I was dancing around to the fight song before the race, just trying to have fun with it.
Once I crossed the start line, I did something I’ve never done before in a race. I didn’t bob and weave through people! I found a spot, watched my pace, and started up the hill. My virtual pacer kept beeping “ahead of pace” and I would slow a little and take it easy. I watched people pass me and didn’t care about it! I knew that I was running at my pace and was hoping it would help me in the long run. Once I made it up the hill and to mile 1 I felt good with a 8:23 pace so I picked it up. I ran my second mile at 8:06 and knew if I could keep it up I would PR! The people that had passed me in the first mile were slowing and I was passing them. I was finally listening to what my running coach has always told me to do! I ran my third mile at 8:09- I couldn’t feel my feet or my hands at that point but temporary pain because it was only a short distance run! You cross into the third mile right before entering the stadium. It’s SO fun running down the tunnel with “Hail to the Victors” over the loud speakers and the cheerleaders cheering you on. My watch was already past 3.1 when I hit the field to finish. I could see the time and knew that even with the extended length of the race I still finally had a new PR for a 5K!!
Every race is a lesson and this one was no different! On the way to the race that morning I said to Justin “maybe I’m just not good in racing conditions”, I can run good training runs but under certain circumstances, maybe I just can’t do it. I don’t think I was being hard on myself, I think I was just really trying to understand WHY I can’t run the same runs I run outside or on the treadmill 4 days a week when I do a race. I let it get inside my head and with this race I went in with no expectations but to do my best and have fun- to remember that I love doing this!
This race proved that I CAN do it! in March when I did the Get Lucky race, I came 30 seconds short of a PR on a 3.09 mile course on a beautiful perfect condition flat race. In freezing weather I came in 33 seconds faster than my PR on a 3.20 mile hilly course. EVERY run is different, the conditions, your body, and your mentality for the race. If you get down on yourself and give up then you will lose the love and the fun of racing!
If the course would have been 3.10 my time would have been a sub 26 but instead I came in at 26:01 at 3.20 miles(8.09 average according to my garmin) and my previous PR was 26:34. You would have thought I ran a marathon, I was so happy with that PR! Some of you will laugh at that because it’s still not fast compared to many and my hubby who was disappointed with his 6:49 average pace run(insert mean face emoji). Just kidding- I’m always ridiculously proud of him!!
Here are my last year stats compared to this year stats! Seeing how much I improved in one years time was an eye opener for me. Just pacing myself, learning how to breath, learning my stride and everything that comes with training is finally starting to kick in! As a newer runner, it’s amazing what you can do with practice. Don’t give up on yourself if you think you are not making progress- because not everyone makes progress fast- it takes practice and a lot of good and bad training days! I’m proud of how far I’ve come in a year!!
It was a great race and we had fun running in the Big House- definitely a race worth doing and for a great cause! GO BLUE!!!
As always – Run HAPPY!!