On Saturday I ran the Halloween Hustle for the 3rd year in a row. This is the only race I’ve actually done annually since I
started running a few years ago, so it’s been awesome to see my progress over those years (not only in timing, but also in how I feel during the race).
It was a chilly race morning (temps in the 30s), but the sun was shining. I woke up around 6:30 and had my usual race day breakfast of oatmeal and a little bit of coffee. I was glad I picked up my race packet earlier in the week because by the time my husband and I got to the race site, it was almost 8:15 and the race started at 8:30. Luckily we also live really close (always a bonus for when I’m not doing one of those Chicago races).
I didn’t get a chance to warm up much, but I quickly found our group and passed out the costume accessories (we were M&Ms this year) then got my timing chip. I wish this race would use the D-tag timing chips instead of the velcro around the ankle. It’d be a lot easier since the chip could’ve been in the packet.
Anyway, my goal time for this race was to beat my previous 5k PR of 24:31. According to my SmartCoach training plan, I was supposed to run this race in 24:14. So my strategy was just to go out strong and try to maintain that pace for the race since this is now one of the shorter distances I run. I lined up in the start corral just before the 8-9 min/mile pace and waited for the race to begin.
Once we started, I walked a little toward the starting line and then started my watch and took off as I crossed the timing pad. The course is kind of familiar to me now since this was the third time I ran it. I remember in past years the ground had been a little wet, but this time it was nice and dry. I quickly warmed up and tried to just enjoy the run without focusing too much on my pace. I ran the first mile in about 7:48 and hit mile 2 at about 15:38. I knew I was on pace for my 24:14 finish. But then somehow in mile 3, I got faster.
I was running slightly behind a dad and his son (he must’ve been about 6 or 7…maybe a little older) for much of the second mile. I was amazed because I knew I was running sub-8 minute miles and the kid was keeping that pace too! Most kids his age wouldn’t have that kind of endurance. It was encouraging though after the 2 mile marker to hear the dad encouraging his son as he ran. I could tell his son was getting tired because he started falling back behind his dad, but his dad kept telling him, “You trained for this. Never think you can’t do it. Only about 5 more minutes.” It was really sweet. I bet that kid’s gonna be speedier one day.
So after the dad said there were about 5 more minutes left, I passed them since I knew I was getting closer to the finish line. The finish toward the 3 mile marker and then the finish line is a straightaway, so once I turned the corner and saw it, I just took a deep breath and ran with all the energy and power I could. I passed several people on the way to the finish line and was shocked when I looked at the clock and saw I was finishing in under 24 minutes! I was even telling Gerald that morning that I didn’t think I would finish in under 24. My official time was 23:41, my new 5k PR! 🙂 I placed 5th in my age group (which is a tough one to place in), and was 102 overall. I was only about 30 seconds slower than the girl who won my AG. That’s encouraging to me. Unfortunately Gerald missed my finish, but we got a good picture right after.
As I look back over these three years of running, I’m still amazed at how I improved. I remember running this race my first year and feeling a little like I was going to throw up after I finished (I felt that way after my first 5k). The second year I remember not being able to push myself to sprint at the finish because I was so tired (that probably happened the first year too). This year I felt great at the finish and had enough energy left to do a full out sprint at the end. It’s amazing what the human body can do with a little training.
Even looking at my timing from the previous races you can see my improvement:
- 2009: 26:50
- 2010: 25:23
- 2011: 23:41 (huge improvement!)
I’m sure a lot of this is due to my increased mileage this year when training for the Soldier Field 10 Miler and my extra tempo and speed work. Everyone else in our group for this race improved on their previous race times too. For two of the ladies (the ones on the left), this was only their second 5k, and they did such a great job!
My last race for 2011 will be the Long Grove Turkey Trot. I’m running the new 8k course this year. I had a Groupon for this race (the 5k), but then I found out they were doing an 8k and the transferring was such a hassle. I won’t go in to that though. Then I’ll just try to maintain my running fitness through the rest of the winter and start training in February for my first half marathon!
I was never a runner (in fact, I hated running), but now I’ve gained a new appreciation for the sport and I actually enjoy those long, quiet runs. I can enjoy God’s creation, pray, and be continually amazed that He created my body to be able to run this far.