Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fun to Race: Navy Federal 5k 2013

It is fun to race. I like all of it: the music blasting beforehand to get people psyched, seeing the excitement of people getting ready to run their first race, the camaraderie of all of us warm up, seeing the decorated start line, all of it. And really, there are two kinds of road races. First, there are the big, mega races with thousands (and sometimes tens of thousands) of people, with numerous corrals, wave starts, an expo, big names with big times and fancy warm up clothes, where the big goal is to hit a particular time. And setting that PR on a big race day has become very meaningful and gives On the flip side, there are the local races: those run on neighborhood streets, with less than a thousand people, and in my case a chance to place.
Running has taught me that I am a competitive person. I like to do better and improve, but I also learned that there is something about lining up at the start and trying to get a top finish. I have won 2 races in my life, and placed well in a few others and it has provided a different kind of thrill too.
Last Sunday, while I was on my long run, I saw a banner for the Navy Federal 5k, practically in my backyard. It was literally 2.5 miles from my house, and I did want to sign up for one more race before the Army Ten Miler (in 2 weeks). Why not? I was about to start a new running cycle on Monday, so it fit well - a chance to work on my speed and double as a good race. So, I was pretty psyched about the race. And I'll also admit that I had looked up race results from previous years and it looked like my odds were good for doing well in it. Last week, I came in 8th in the Clarendon Day 5k in a new PR of 19:10, but an Olympian was first. Maybe this time I could move up a few places. My goal was sub 20 - it was after a PR race and a week of solid training.
I had a nightmare last night that I was late for the race - couldn't have been more relieved to wake up! I warmed up from my house and got to the start with plenty of time. I know I'm not the only one to do this, but I sized up some of the other women. One in particular stood out - about six feet tall and legs for days. She had that fast look and seemed like not one to mess around with. I got in the second row, right behind her, hoped for the best, and we were off. I would say at least 8 women rushed ahead of me, and that was fine. I was not going to blow up in the first mile pushing unnecessarily hard. It was already 72 degrees at 9AM and it felt hot. I passed all but tall girl and a pair of girls running together. I could see them from a distance, and it seemed reasonable to pass them. Right after we turned onto a side street at mile 1, I passed them and didn't look back. I felt pretty comfortable in my position, and I was just looking to pass some guys. We were running through neighborhoods, and families in their front lawns were cheering for us. I could not even see tall girl, so this was now a race against the clock and against the field. With half a mile to go, I really started to pick it up - and there were a lot of people out and I felt like I started to have momentum. We had to whip around a few corners and go through the Navy Federal campus park. I did a couple of my runs there this week, so this was familiar territory.
I was moving and moving and then the finish line came into sight - and the clock was ticking.
It was up for grabs as I crossed the line, but the results page confirmed it:
19:59 (6:26 per mile)
2nd woman out of 393
13th overall out of 695
I was very pleased with how it went. Afterwards, the two girls from mile 1 came up to me and we started chatting. Half an hour later (and they still hadn't started the award ceremony), we realized how much we had in common beyond running - hooray for new friends! Then it was time for the awards ceremony. I knew I had earned second place, but the presentation was pretty sweet:
Check out the giant check! I got $50 for second place, plus the trophy, and the big check. I was going to run home, but suddenly all of this swag seemed a bit cumbersome - could you imagine me running through the streets with the check and trophy? I was fortunate that my two new friends offered me a ride home, which I graciously accepted. I then did my cooldown (which did not feel cool - this was turning into a hot day) and called it a morning. And what a great one/run! It was just a lot of fun and a great way to settle into my new town of Vienna.
...Vienna waits for you (you knew that was coming)

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