I feel like I had done so much preparation for this 5K. After doing a run/walk 5K for the first time last year, I knew what I was capable of and I wanted to push myself to see what I could do 6 months later. I knew that I could do more than what I had done the last time and I wanted to makes sure I prepared myself the best I could. I worked on my endurance a lot during my workouts at Orangetheory so I could run longer during my intervals. I started to run on inclines to prepare myself for the crazy hill. But even with all that preparation, I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to do what I wanted to do at this race.
I tried to keep my nerves down while I drove to the race bib pickup. It was in a different place than before so it was a bit of a longer drive for me. But there was a meter with time left on it right by where we had to go, so I took that as a good sign. I got my race number and got back into my car so I could get home, have some dinner, and get to bed nice and early.
I usually don’t have too much trouble sleeping before a race, but this time I really struggled to fall asleep. I went to bed around 9:30 and read for a little bit. By 10:30, I turned off my light and tried to fall asleep. For some reason, I just couldn’t get my brain to shut off. I was tossing and turning and just couldn’t fall asleep. Around 2am, I finally fell asleep but since I had to get up at 4am I didn’t get as much sleep as I had hoped.
I wasn’t feeling too tired when I got up, so I tried to stay positive and hope for the best. I got my stuff together, drank a little chocolate milk (I don’t do well eating that early but I don’t do races on an empty stomach), and got into my car to drive to Hollywood. And as soon as I opened the front door of my house, I noticed that the ground was wet and it was still drizzling. I knew that there was light rain in the forecast, but it hadn’t started when I went to bed so I was hoping it was wrong.
It was raining or misting the entire drive there and I thought that maybe it would be like last year where it was raining until the race started but during the race it wasn’t. And that’s exactly what happened! It was misting until it was time to get into the corrals to line up but I didn’t have to deal with the rain during the race at all!
It seemed like the race was a bit smaller than it’s been in the past, but that was fine with me. There was still a great energy in the starting area and I was getting really excited as we started to get ready to go.
I tried to stay as excited as possible but the idea of trying to run on the hills was still making me nervous. But I put a smile on my face and got myself as mentally prepared as I could be to start.
The race started super prompt this time and they were letting the corrals go much quicker than they have in the past. I was in the 5th or 6th corral and I crossed the starting line at 6:15am (the start was at 6am). And as soon as we started we made a turn to go down the first hill.
I had set my watch intervals to be 2 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking. I had every intention of sticking with that as much as I could and it went really easily at the beginning. Of course, running downhill isn’t too bad. But even my run back up the hill toward the starting line wasn’t that bad at all. I was sticking with my intervals and feeling pretty great. I was a bit tired, but not nearly as bad as expected. And before I knew it, I got past the 1 mile marker.
And then the big hill was in front of me. It happened to be part of my walking minute when I started the big hill, but as I did it I realized that I just wasn’t going to be able to run up it. Thinking back now (and knowing that it is supposedly a 3.5% incline), I probably could have done it. But at the time it seemed impossible. So I decided that I would ignore my intervals during the hill and I would walk up but run down. That did work ok with me although I know that my walk uphill probably should have been faster.
As soon as I was at the bottom of the hill I got back on track with my intervals and a few minutes later I was at the turnaround (which is close to the 2.5 mile mark). After the turnaround I was feeling really great and got to the last little hill of the race. It starts as a downhill so I decided to run that entire thing and walk up just like I did with the big hill. I really wanted to stick with my intervals, but I knew that I needed to do what felt right for me in the moment.
After getting up that last hill, it was pretty flat from there to the finish line and about only .2 miles left. So I started running and decided that I wasn’t going to stop until I crossed the finish line. I glanced at my watch and knew my time was going to be close to my PR so when I turned the last corner and saw the finish line I took everything I had and sprinted to finish as fast as possible.
I stopped my timing watch as soon as I crossed the finish line but it took me a minute or two to calm down and catch my breath before I could really look at what it said. I went into this race knowing that it is a tough course to PR on because of all the hills. I knew that even though I was running more than I did the last time, I also walked on hills which is slower than my normal walking intervals. So I was pretty shocked when I looked down to see that I PRed by 14 seconds!
14 seconds isn’t a lot, but it’s something. And on this course I know I’ve been slower because of the hills. When comparing this race to doing the race last year, I improved by about 11 minutes. When comparing this race to the best time I had on this course, I improved by about 9 minutes. That’s insane!
After I got my medal and had my timing chip cut off my shoes, I ran into Ken who is also known as the Free Hugs Guy! Ken is the director of this race and I was so excited to see him! And of course, I had to get my hug from him.
I wanted to see what my official time was, but they were having some issues getting the official time sheets printed. So I decided to wait in line to take a photo with my medal in front of the step and repeat. It took a bit of time, but I had time to kill so it was perfect.
I think my expression says it all. While I hoped to get a PR with this race, I knew that reality might be different and I didn’t want to get my hopes up. And then I surprised myself by not only kicking butt with the longer intervals and dealing with the hills, I did get the PR I was dreaming of!
My official time was exactly what my watch said (which made me happy to know I’m getting better at timing with my watch) and I started to walk back to the start line where I parked my car. I could have taking the subway one stop like I have in the past, but I decided that my legs needed the stretch and the walk would be good for me.
The next race I’m planing on doing will be the Hard Rock Cafe 5K which is probably about 6 months away (they haven’t announced the next race date just yet). But now that I’ve proven to myself that I can do 2 5Ks with mile times under 16 minutes, a few of my friends want me to go for a Disney race. Doing a Disney race has been a dream of mine, but I know they have 16 minute mile restrictions and I couldn’t get under that. But now I can and it’s time to think more seriously about doing a Disney race. I’m also debating if I want to do the 10K as another challenge for myself, but that’s still something I need to think about and see how I feel over this year.
I don’t think I could have asked for a better 5K race. I never knew that adding running to my races would make them so much better. I’m not struggling as much as I have before and it is making me think a bit more about adding some other races back in. As of right now, I don’t know if I’ll add any more races this year. But I’m thinking about it and seeing how my body feels as I push myself more in my workouts. But even if I just keep doing 2 races a year, that’s enough for me to prove to myself that I am getting stronger and faster!