Thursday, March 31, 2016

Breaking the tape: Scope it out 5k 2016

I've run the Scope it Out 5k twice before, and it holds a special place in my heart, because it's where I broke 20 minutes for the first time in 2012. It was a game changing race for me - dipping under that mark is still so memorable to me, even four years later. So, I even though it was questionable if I'd dip under 20 minutes this time, I definitely wanted to come back. It also doesn't hurt that Freedom Plaza (where the race started) is just a jog away from our apartment. While it didn't look springlike or feel like it (38 degrees) on the first day of spring, it was time to lace up and race toward the Capitol!
Looking around, I had a feeling I was going to be taking things out hard on my own. The last time I did this race in 2013, I came in 4th and pretty much ran a solo race. There were so few people around me, and I remember it being a hard effort to run by myself. It didn't seem like there were a lot of fast people (and spoiler alert: the male who won was 55 years old), so I was going to just run hard and hope to tack onto some guys. And we were off!
Within half a mile, I was the lead female, and while it's happened a few times now, I must admit, it is still a very cool feeling to lead a race. Maybe part of it is that as a child, I was never good at sports. I was afraid of the ball when it was thrown at me, and I just never saw myself as an athlete or a big winner. There were other things I was good at, school, music, but was never #1 at something. And even though this may happen at smaller races, I'm certainly no big-wig runner, winning is a victory that goes beyond race day. So that is something I will always savor - and it is a feeling that will also always make me push to make sure I protect first place and not let someone snatch it in a moment of weakness or hubris. I went through the first mile in 6:35, and it was a cold first mile. Running into the wind was hard, particularly without a lot of people to help block the wind. It would've been hard to knock so much time off the next two miles to break 20, but I was going to be damned if I didn't try.  6:30 for the second mile, and I picked up speed in catching one or two guys -- there is something about the act of dueling it out with someone that enables me to focus and just dial in and block everything else out. 
This race is very cool because it is a race down Pennsylvania Ave and around the Capitol. So, with the eyes on prize, waving the Capitol goodbye again and trying to nip one more guy in the final mile. 
Because of the out-and-back nature of the course, as I was making my down for the home stretch, there was a big pack of people going in the opposite direction. And as groups of women saw me, clearly in the lead among women, they whooped and cheered "First lady!" "Woo!" "Go, girl, go!" And in response, I pumped my first at them in solidarity. We are all women doing this, getting out there, and it's important to recognize that. It's time like that when I think of pioneers like Kathrine Switzer, who got out there and showed other women that they can do this, be runners, push when it's hard, and leap over hurdles that seem unattainable to clear. It was that thought and those cheering women that made me smile as I crossed the finish line and broke the tape.

All smiles breaking the tape at Scope It Out 5k 2016
20:26 is not my fastest 5k time, but that's not what this was about. And my family said that too, "Who cares what time you ran, you won!" And they are right. We need to cherish victories of all shapes and sizes. I won this race (and a pair of running shoes!), and for all of the women in this race, during Women's History Month, this was a victory.

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