Years ago on Loopville, someone (I think it was Corc) posted a link to an article written by Lauren Fleshman. It was about the difference between male and female runners/athletes and accepting that difference.
I thought of that article again this weekend. Read it here! https://www.runnersworld.com/runners-stories/a20793927/i-run-like-a-girl/ It's not just insightful and interesting, it's hilarious. Seriously. Stop reading my bloop right now and go read it and then come back (or not).
And I remembered that article and looked it up because I ran my worst 5k in four years, and instead of pacing my RB- who is male and who was running his first 5k- as planned, I got paced by him. And vastly outrun. HIS FIRST.
But it was still a great evening, for so many reasons.
As much as I prefer morning races, I also work almost every Saturday from 8:30-1, so I miss out on most local 5ks/10ks. The Chase is a small, local 5k that benefits the XC program of a local school and draws out most of the runners here in little Harborcreek. And it's on a Friday night. I love this race because there are so many people I know who show up to run it, either local runners I’m already connected to or customers at the bank here in town where I work. Every 10 feet I was stopping and talking to people… Rod, Jim, Karen, another Karen, Desiree, Dan from Erie and his best friend also named Dan, from Buffalo, Bill who I see at the bank, the RDs husband who is also a bank customer, Juliann, Christina, Tom, Andrew… seriously, I know half the field here!
And my baby girl was running it, too! Unlike last summer, when Jules and I trained 2-3 times a week, training for her kinda fell by the wayside this season. Mostly because I was not feeling running all that much, thus it was hard to translate joy for it to my kiddo. And also because she was playing soccer all season and doing quite a bit running even though it wasn’t specific run-training. About 5 days before the race, she decided that, yes, she wants to run it! We did two 2 mile runs in which she ran between 10:00 and 10:30 pace and I figured hey, if she can run 2 miles she can run 3, right?
My RB C. -remember him from that 10k RR early this year- was also running the 5k, his first. Now, C. has been busy with work and coaching our church softball team (which my husband is on) and being a single parent and hasn’t been able to run much. Like, once or twice a week. I haven’t been running much but I’ve been running a little more than that. And I ran a marathon just—oh crap, that was 2 months ago already? Okay, forget all the training benefits of that. Anyway, I’ve been running more than him. I should be faster. So I’ll pace him, right? That takes the pressure off me to have to race it, and it’ll be more fun pacing anyway. RIGHT???!!
It’ll be more fun, she says. 🤣
Jules was raring to go 45 minutes before the race and completely confident of her ability to run this whole race without stopping. Despite having run very little lately (besides soccer), thus being the least 5k-trained of the three of us. Man, I need that kind of untroubled audacity. Hakuna matata all the way.
Meanwhile, C. is old- almost 40- which means he needs to stretch.
Now, there’s stretching. You know, normal, light, easy stretching......
And then there’s like, 'oh, wait, I have to do a 20 minute yoga session before I run' stretching.
I made fun of him, which the karma gods duly noted.
Pre-race pics for Jules and I when all the stretching was FINALLY done.
We lined up to start. I’m completely out of sight in the start photo, but C. is there. Jules is out of sight beside me instead of lining up with all the kids. There were a LOT of kids there, which is always a great thing to see.
This race is not a fast course. The first mile is uphill. The second mile is mostly flat but includes a bunch of wooded trail. The third mile is a mix of said trail plus about .5 mile of downhill pavement back to the finish. It’s easy to blow up climbing in the first mile and ruin everything, but it’s nice to have that downhill finish to redeem yourself a smidge, if redemption is something you need (spoiler alert: I did).
We hadn’t even gotten close to the top of the hill, maybe .75 mile in before I realized two things. 1) I felt like crap. Not just normal 5k pain crap, but absolute crap from head to toe. My stomach was roiling, my legs felt dead and heavy and my breathing was ragged. 2) C. was pulling away from me, trotting easily as if he ran 5ks every day instead of this being his first one, his bright yellow shirt like a beacon ahead of me. WTH????!!
Somewhere in mile 2, I realized that I was struggling to stay under 8:00 minute pace. WHAT? This is absurd. I have run how many 5ks now, and much faster than this, and I feel like I'm being strangled?
About the time I realized that my race was going to be awful, C. started yelling encouragement. Which helped a lot... I was grateful, because I was falling apart in the worst way. But the pacer had become the pacee. Beginner pacing coach.
Again. WHUT? 😧
And for the rest of the race, C. was ahead of me and pulling away, holding back while yelling at me to stay with him. Which I could not do. Once I considered stopping to puke because I felt like doing so almost the entire race, but that would take like, a good half minute off my time, soooo… I basically huffed and puffed and agonized my way to the finish. When we got to the final .2, C. started putting on the gas. I tried my best to kick into my usual high-gear finish, but nope. I yelled at him to go. Go, go, go! He sprinted toward the clock, coming in at 23:10. And I finished 10 seconds later, feeling and looking like death, and all I could think was “He could have run a 22:30, easily!”
I dry-heaved along the side for a little until my stomach eased up on the queasiness. C. came over to lend support and I demanded of him why he didn’t just go and LEAVE my sorry ass?! He kept saying, no, no, no, that’s not what this race was about, he’s fine with it. Okay, well, your coach demands that in the future, you will run a 5k all out to see what you can do. Oh, and you are faster than me now, congrats! A part of me was like, wow, that was fast... going from a non-runner to this in what, 6-7 months? But I was and am so proud that none of it mattered an iota. Well, besides the iota that it took to admit that he's faster than me now. Which was maybe a little more than an iota... So okay, it mattered a little that he was faster than me but he worked for and deserves it and I am proud as punch.
I still don't know what went wrong. Not having trained for a 5k (all marathon training stuff this past winter and spring)? Worked and was on my feet all day (a night race versus a morning race)? Heat and humidity? Or just woefully out of shape physically and mentally? Idk. Whatever it was, it's a time I'm happy to put behind me. My slowest 5k since early 2014 when I was coming back from injury, a minute slower than last year on this course, and nearly 2 minutes slower than my PR. But hey… I ran it. It sucked but I did it.
JULES!!! What drove my own race out of my mind was the thought of my little girl out there running. I hurried back up the course to find her. The whole time I was worrying... she hadn't trained for this, and without me there to encourage her and run with her, would she fall apart and walk (she'd wanted to not walk at ALL!) and then cry and be heartbroken and beat up on herself? Because she tends to beat up on herself when she doesn't do well, we have no idea where the heck she inherited THAT mysterious trait. Or the crying.......
Before I even got as far back on the course as I expected or wanted to, less than 2 tenths of a mile, here comes Juliet, charging along with her face red with determination, her stride still strong and beautiful. My heart got all the fuzzy feelings, seeing my little offspring running like a champ. She spied me and broke out in a huge grin, shouting at me, ‘MOM! MOM! I DIDN’T STOP ONCE AND I PASSED 8 PEOPLE!!!” I had told her beforehand to pick people off, and she told me she wants to see how many people she can pass.
Ah, she’s a fierce little thing!
I started running with her, slightly ahead, encouraging her.
I told her we’re gonna kick it to the end, so I led out in front of her. She gave it a massive kick at the end, and we did the final .1 mile at an 8:14 pace. I let her go through the chute by herself, and she was flying!
Final time: 31:18. 10:04 pace. And a 10-second PR over last year on this course, which I did not expect given so little training! Juliet was so excited and I was so proud. Her 3rd 5k… and she wants to do more this fall. I have a flat, fast October 5k all lined up for her. She wants to break 30 minutes, which I think is entirely possible with a little training and on a faster course.
The first thing Jules wanted to do was eat! What the heck?! My stomach was still revolting, and she’s sitting there inhaling 2 pieces of pizza and a donut with sprinkles. Though I normally love this race for the pizza and watermelon, I could not stomach it today. No food for me.
The sting from a bad race was quickly assuaged by getting my 3rd place OA female (despite the sucky time) medal and Jules missed an AG win by just one place, since she got lumped into the 10-and-under group... but she was so thrilled with her time and having run the whole race by herself without stopping that she didn't mind. And C!! Seeing him get his 2ND in AG medal—his first award, in his FIRST 5K was amazing. Even though I know full well that he could have finished with a faster time, I am incredibly proud of how far he's come as a runner. And he was a true friend, helping me get through a tough race when he DIDN'T HAVE TO AT ALL.
We gotta get pics, of course.
Then C. and I took Jules back home to get put to bed by my DH, along with the other kiddo. Then we swung by Karen’s house for an hour or two of chitchat, snacks, and drinks at her annual post-race party. Since I had to work the next morning (BOOOOO) we didn’t stay around too long, but it’s always wonderful to catch up with everyone. Even if the race itself was pretty much a bust, good friends can make up for it.
As for being soundly beaten by my protégé, hey, if a pro like Lauren Fleshman can see the beauty in getting beaten by boys, so can a mortal like myself?
Plus, I'm a long-distance runner and C. is better at shorter distances and we have that half-marathon coming up... 🤨