It was a cold and blustery morning for the 5K Chill Challenge at Taughannock Falls State Park. Despite the snow and sleet falling from the skies, I stayed fairly warm throughout the race. I don’t know if it was the promise of hot chili at the end, but the cold didn’t bother me as much as I anticipated.
I went to the race solo, leaving my biggest cheerleaders at home was hard, but it was too cold to keep my guys waiting for me to double the course. Yes, I said double the course!
The day prior I had attempted to put in my 6 mile training run, but 1 mile in (with my son in the jogging stroller) it began to downpour. I ended up cutting the run short and waited long enough for the rain to slow before I booked it back home. That night I made the last-minute decision to sign up for the race and figured I could easily tack on the extra 3 miles.
Because I was planning on doubling the course I was careful to pace myself at my 6 mile pace and did a reasonable job at doing so. The course was mostly flat, but there were a few inclines at the 3/4 mile mark. My splits were fairly reasonable and actually better than they had been for my last 6 mile run.
Mile 4 was tough, but I pushed through and picked it up as I came back down. It was fun to double back on the course and see the remaining runners/walkers on their way in. It really reminded me of how far I’ve come and that it doesn’t matter how slow you are going. If you’re trying and doing, you are accomplishing something and that’s all that matters.
This little “runner” who could barely run a 5K in February of 2010 finished her first half!
The race took place in Syracuse, NY and the course ran through a familiar path, the Onondaga Lake Park, home to my first (and only) 5K race. As I pressed through the park passing mile 3 I had such a sense of euphoria and accomplishment. Just 3 years prior I ran this same path full of jitters and a similar eagerness, but with no sense that I would be capable of conquering any distance greater than that. And yet there I was, I was in it with 10 miles left to go and I felt great.
I was pacing ahead of my normal training pace and was carefully monitoring my HR to settle at 160-165 BPM. Based on my prior training runs I knew that I could comfortably maintain this HR for this distance and was letting my body set the pace. The first 2 miles of the race were slightly uphill, but the majority of the course was flat and very similar to what I had been training on.
At the halfway point, my body began to feel the stresses of racing and my HR hovered between 170-175 BPM. I tried to slow down a bit to get back down to the 160’s, but found that it REALLY brought my pace down so I change my plan and aimed to keep my HR as close to 170 BPM for the remaining distance. I was able to speed things up a bit towards the end, but when I hit mile 12 my feet began to ache. I could feel it with each step and was looking forward to finishing the race so I used the cheers from the crowd and every ounce of adrenaline I had to push myself through that last mile.
Soon enough, the stadium was in sight and I could see the finish line. I was greeted by my biggest fans, my husband and son and they cheered me on in that last stretch. I sprinted to the end and crossed the finish line with dead legs and a pounding heart. I DID IT! I ran a solid 13.1 miles at my fastest time yet.
I still get excited thinking about what I had accomplished and what I still have to accomplish. The full marathon still intimidates me a bit, but I am miles from where I was and I have faith that I can make my way through it.