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My First Run/Walk 5K (or I’m Still In Shock)

This past Saturday I had the Hard Rock Cafe 5K. I’ve done this race several times in the past and I had been really looking forward to it. It’s a really nice out and back flat course and since I have done the race before I’m very familiar with the course and know when I’m getting close to the turn around. For a while, I had been training hard to make this a run/walk race (for the first time ever!). But after getting sick I wasn’t able to train like I was before and I felt like I lost a lot of progress and endurance. I figured that I would do my best, but I wasn’t expecting too much for this race.

I was able to pick up my race stuff on Friday after work, so I prepped all my stuff Friday night before going to bed. I usually wear a hip pack to carry my phone, keys, and anything else I need before/during/after a race. But I knew that wearing that would make running very difficult, so I had to plan differently. Since my workout pants have a little pocket, I could put my phone in there and I strung my keys through my headphone cord and put those in the pocket too. So I was feeling very free for whatever running I was going to be able to do.

Race morning I woke up at 5am and quickly got ready. I ate a little bit of a banana so I’d have something in my stomach, but my nerves were getting the best of me so I couldn’t eat or drink too much. By 5:30am I was in my car and headed to Hollywood and Highland where the race was. Once I parked, I got ready in my car and in the parking lot since it was nicely lit down there and it was a bit warmer than it was outside. And about an hour before the race was supposed to start, I headed up to street level to stretch and do my best to prep before the start.

pre-race

I tried to keep moving around so I didn’t get too stiff and was stretching my legs and hips. I really didn’t want pain to be a reason why my race wouldn’t be good, so I was working hard to make sure my body was ready to go. I did find some friends before we started, and seeing them made me feel a bit more relaxed and ready to see what I could do. And before I knew it, we were ready to go (we started right on time at 7am which was nice).

I had my running watch ready to go with 1 minute intervals set. So I was planning on running for 1 minute and then walking for 1 minute for as long as I could. In my training runs on my own, I usually could do that 5 or 6 times and then I would have to start cutting back on the running time. I would do 45 or 30 seconds of the 1 minute run and then walk the rest. I knew this was likely to happen, so I wasn’t thinking ever that I could do the full running minutes for the entire race. I just wanted to try my best and see what I could do. For this race, I really just wanted to finish in under 50 minutes (which would easily be a PR). My long-term goal was to finish in under 45 minutes, but that wasn’t even a though for this race.

Once I started, I started my watch and my music and started to run. The first minute of running went by quickly and very easily. I tried to stay toward the side of the course so that I wouldn’t bother people by walking. Sometimes I had to go around walkers when I was running, but that wasn’t that big of a deal and just tried to not obstruct any other races.

When my running watch is doing intervals, the default screen is showing how much longer is in that interval and how many intervals I’ve done. I keep it on that screen and while I can get an idea of what time it is, I didn’t want to focus on my time while racing. The first mile marker came up and I was still able to do my full minute of running each interval and I was very happy with that. I passed the water station while walking and took a few sips of water before focusing on the second mile.

The second mile is always the tough one for this race for me. The turnaround is in this mile and I know the course probably too much so I’m pretty focused on how many blocks were left before turning back. I just tried to focus on my music and trying to do the best running I could do. I was still able to do my full minute of running each interval, which is significantly better than I’ve ever done during a training run. When I saw the turnaround sign, I was very happy. Normally, I try to tap the sign and I see it as good luck. But there was a slowish walker in my way and I couldn’t touch the sign this time. I tried not to let that get to me and just thought about how I was halfway done!

The second half was a bit tough. There were times where the running minute was feeling like it was taking forever. I would glance at my watch and see that there were less than 15 seconds to go before I could walk and I kept deciding to finish the running minute. I know that I told myself that I didn’t have to run/walk the entire race, but I am so competitive with myself and wanted to test my limits. Once I saw the 2 mile sign, I finally started to realize that I might actually be able to maintain my intervals for the entire race. There is a bit of a downhill going toward the finish line and that is always really nice to get to. I saw the markers for the 10K race and knew I had .2 miles left to go. I just kept saying to myself that I can totally finish at this pace because it was almost done.

My last walking interval was very close to the finish line. I knew I didn’t want to finish knowing I could have done more running. So I cut my walking minute short and decided I would run for the rest of the race. It ended up being about 90 seconds of running and I finished the race sprinting across the finish line.

I stopped my watch as soon as I crossed the finish line. I had seen the official race clock say that it was almost 46 minutes and I knew that I started after the official start since I was toward the middle of the pack. But when I looked at my watch to see what it said, I was so sure that I had screwed something up because I really could not believe it.

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My watch was saying that my time was 44:47.8. I really thought that I either started it too late or stopped it too soon and figured I would wait to see what the official time sheets said before I got too excited. I knew I finished in under 46 minutes because of the official clock and that was also unbelievable but I knew it was right.

While I was waiting for the official times to be posted, I found some of my friends. My friend Brenda is a part of the Oscars/Halloween party group. She also had some issues with being able to train recently and was not expecting anything too crazy. But she was able to PR for the race and did amazing!

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I also ran into Heather, who is the executive director of My Friend’s Place. My Friend’s Place is the official charity for the race and they always have a team running it. It was great to get to see her again and I’m hoping I can do some more work with My Friend’s Place in the near future.

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Finally, the official time sheets were updated so I could check what my time was. And after looking at it, I finally had to believe that I did was well as my watch claimed.

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My official time was 44:48 (which is basically the same thing as 44:47.8) Not only did I PR (by over 9 minutes) I actually beat the long-term goal I had of doing a race in under 45 minutes! I really did not expect to do anything close to this and even a few days later I’m still in a bit of shock. After having several disappointing races when I felt like I did really great, I was expecting this to be similar. But I actually did better than I ever could have imagined!

post-race

I wasn’t able to drive home right away because I was in such disbelief. I made a couple of phone calls to people who I knew wanted to know how my race went. Each time I said my time, I could barely believe what I was saying. But soon enough hopefully I’ll start to believe that I did it. I’ve got to focus now on some new race goals because I did all of them in a race that I was so stressed out about.

Once I got home, I added my new medal to my medal hanger (I’m looking at buying an extension for it since I’m running out of room).

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I spent the rest of my day relaxing and trying to nap since I had gotten up so early that morning. I kept looking online at my race time trying to believe it and not think that I’m dreaming or that some mistake happened. I know that I had trained hard for this race, but my training never got such incredible results. I think a lot of it had to do with race day adrenaline and that helped me to run more than I normally can do.

I never expected to have such an amazing race day. I’m glad that I still pushed myself even though I knew that things might not go the way I was hoping they would. Even though I thought I had given up on myself a little bit, I guess deep down I really hadn’t and this was my mind’s way of telling me to keep pushing it. And I’ll get the chance to test that out again in about 6 months when I have the next 5K happening (unless I find another race I want to do before then). But for now, I’m just so happy and grateful that my hard work paid off and I had the greatest race day I even could have wanted.

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Hard Time At The Hard Rock Cafe 5K (or At Least I Looked Awesome!)

This past Saturday was the Hard Rock Cafe 5K (this year they also had a 10K, but I wasn’t going to do a 10K). It was my 3rd year doing this race and I was really excited to be doing the race again this year. And even more exciting, my friend Kate flew down to LA for the weekend to do the race with me (more about our weekend adventures tomorrow).

I wish I could tell you that I killed it at the race and everything went amazing. But sadly, that wasn’t the case.

I’m not 100% sure what happened, but things seemed weird starting the night before. As I was going to bed, I said to Kate how it didn’t feel like the night before a race. Maybe it’s because someone was sleeping in my living room. Maybe it was because I hadn’t gone to the bib pickup that day to get all my race stuff (Kate and I were going to pick our race things up on Saturday morning).

On race day, I was up at 4:30am and we were out the door by 5:15. Traffic was light so we got to the Hard Rock Cafe nice and early. We got our race stuff, went back down to my car in the parking structure, and got ready. Once it was closer to 6am, we went back up to the street to warm up and make sure we had good spots in the starting area so Kate could avoid the walkers and I could be out-of-the-way for the runners.

Hard Rock Cafe

And of course, we had to take a pre-race photo together.

Pre Race Photo

Kate went up to the front of the pack after that and I hung back and tried to relax and not stress out about the race. While I was waiting for the race to start, I managed to make a few new friends because of the awesome tank top I was wearing that day (hi Susie!!). The race was supposed to start at 7am, but we ended up starting closer to 7:15am.

Right from the beginning, things didn’t feel right to me. My legs were stiff from waiting so long for the start of the race and I was feeling pain in my shins and calf starting at the half mile mark. As much as I wanted to push myself, I was struggling. I checked out my tracking app on my phone at the 1 mile marker and saw that the first mile was about 30 seconds slower than what my mile time was at my PR.

At that point, I realized it would be pretty impossible to make up that time plus be 30 seconds faster on the next two miles, so I stopped trying to push as hard and decided to just focus on finishing without having to take a break.

Right after that realization, Kate was passing me going back toward the finish line. She was having a tough race as well (but she ended up placing 4th in our division, 7th in women, and 41st in the entire race).

The rest of the race seemed to take a while. I tried to focus on the streets going by and knowing that I will be done with the race soon enough. My race photos are all pretty serious looking since I was so focused.

Race Time

As I was almost at the finish line, I saw Kate hanging out there waiting for me to finish. She walked next to me for the last minute and we both were sharing how we had pretty bad race days. I crossed the finish line about 90 seconds slower than my PR (I split the different between my time at the Hard Rock Cafe 5K last year and the Hollywood Half 5K in April).

Even though I didn’t PR, I still got my amazing medal!

Post Race Selfie

After the race, Kate and I got breakfast at the Hard Rock Cafe and I got one last photo on the stairs to the Dolby theater to celebrate completing my race.

Oscar Stairs

As soon as I got home, I added my newest medal to my wall (which is starting to look very full now).

Medal Hanger

Even though the race wasn’t great for me, I did it and I didn’t finish last (which is something that I am terrified of doing one day). I’m so proud of Kate for how well she finished in the race and I’m glad that neither of us really gave up.

While I love my race medal (it’s so sparkly!), my favorite thing from the race was the shirt that I wore! I ordered a tank top from Mighty Petunia after doing a random google search for motivational tank tops. So many motivational tank tops are silly and cheesy, but I love the messages that are on the Mighty Petunia tanks. They are fun and I am already picking out which ones I want next! And I got a ton of compliments on it at the race.

Since I loved my Mighty Petunia tank top so much, Cathy (who is the owner of Mighty Petunia) has given me a promo code to share with all of you! If you buy something from their site, use the promo code “Bombshell” and you’ll get 10% off of your order. And the shirts are so reasonably priced already so the 10% off is just icing on the cake! I hope that you guys will take advantage of the discount and support this great business!

While my race day wasn’t great, I managed to find ways to keep a somewhat positive mindset and was able to focus on the things that made me happy (like my tank top and the medal I got at the finish line). My next 5K is in April and while I’m hoping I’ll PR at that race, I just want to have a more positive race experience and I’ll be happy.

I Can’t Believe My Race Time (or A 5K With My TIU Friends)

This past Saturday was the Hollywood Half 5K. This was my third year doing this race, and you might remember that last year the race didn’t go so well for me.

Even though I’ve been doing lots of treadmill training (and it showed in my last 5K), I was still so nervous going into this race. I knew that the hills that were added last year would still be there and those hills were the worst part of the race for me last year.

But I tried to stay positive. Lots of my new friends from my Tone It Up group were doing the race as well and we had plans to meet up before and after the race.

The day before the race, I went to go pick up my race number and other race things. I did meet up with one TIU friend, so that make the craziness of the expo a bit more fun. And as I always do, I took a selfie in my car with my race number.

Hollywood Half 5K Bib Number

With an early wake up time in the morning (4am), I made sure I put together my race bag the night before. I don’t think I’ve shared what’s in my race bag in the past, so here it is.

Race Bag

I attach my race number to the hip pack. In one pocket, I have my sunglasses, house/car keys, chapstick, and ID/money/credit card. In the other pocket, I have my headphones and phone (the phone isn’t in the picture since I used it to take a picture). I’m looking into upgrading to a race belt, but right now they are all too small for me.

As soon as my alarm went off at 4am, I was up and ready to go. I carpooled to the race with a TIU friend and we met a bunch of our other TIU friends near the start line.

TIU Pre Race

A few minutes before the race was supposed to start, we split up to go into our corrals. There was 1 friend in a corral with me, so I got her to take a quick pre-race photo for me.

Pre Race Photo

Since the race starts in waves and we were in corral 10, we had about 20 minutes between when the race started and when we actually started. By the time we got up to the start line, the sun was coming out.

Race Start

My friend in my corral with me had planned to stick with me during the race. It was her first 5K and she wasn’t sure how fast she would go. But she was really fast! We were only together for the first half of a block and then I didn’t see her again until we met up at the finish line!

The race started pretty ok for me. The first part of the race has a slight decline and then you turn around and go up a slight hill. My hips were feeling it right away, but I kept on going. And I noticed that while I was getting passed a lot, I was also doing some of the passing.

I had set my phone to track my race time and it gave me a little notification when it claimed I had gone a mile (it’s a bit off so I was about 40 feet from the first mile marker). But even with the app being a bit off, my mile time was a lot faster than I expected it to be. I tried to not get too excited and kept focusing on the race.

Toward the halfway point of the race, there was the big hill of the race. This hill was one that I was swearing under my breath during last year. But this year there was a distinct different. I’m guessing it’s because of my treadmill training at Orangetheory. I’m used to doing crazy inclines on the treadmill without being allowed to slow down. So on the big hill, most walkers around me were slowing down but I was maintaining my pace (and passing them!).

Before I knew it, I was getting ready to take the final turn before the finish line. I grabbed my phone out of my bag so I could stop the clock on my phone to see my unofficial time. And I glanced at the phone and all I remembered was that it was saying 53 minutes and some number of seconds.

I crossed the finish line, stopped my clock on my phone, and something happened because the time was erased from my phone!

I couldn’t do anything to bring the time back on the app, so I knew I’d have to wait until the official times were posted. So I walked to where my group was meeting so we could take a post race photo.

TIU Ladies

And of course I needed a photo with my new race bling!

Hollywood Half 5K

After taking our photos and chatting about how our races went, we went over to the timing board to see the official times. Everyone in my group had a PR! And when I looked at my time, I thought I was imagining things.

5K PR

My time was 53:52.8! My time at the Hard Rock Cafe 5K (my previous PR) was 56:52.9! I can’t believe that I had a 3 minute improvement over the past few months! Honestly, I still can’t believe I did that.

My ultimate 5K goal is to get below a 16 minute mile. That’s the requirement for races at Disneyland. And while I don’t know if I will ever do a 10K or a half marathon, I’d love to do a 5K at Disneyland one day.

After we all celebrated our PRs, the TIU ladies and I went out to breakfast. I figured such an awesome race meant that I could splurge a little on breakfast.

Post 5K Breakfast

Over breakfast, I just kept thinking how grateful I am that I have these awesome ladies in my life. They are such great motivators and I know that they will help push me to my next 5K goal. I’m hoping a bunch of them will do the Hard Rock Cafe 5K with me this fall.

And as soon as I got home, I had to add my latest addition to my medal wall.

Medal Wall

My wall is starting to look full now, but I bet I can fit at least 4 or 5 more medals on there before I need to build an extension (or more likely, have my dad build an extension).

Overall, I’m so glad that I didn’t let my nerves get in the way of me having an amazing race. And now that I have my new PR in my head, I can focus on the steps I need to take to get another PR in the fall!

Hard Rock Cafe 5K Take 2 (or Trying To Not Be Frustrated With A PR)

This past Saturday was the Hard Rock Cafe 5K. You may remember that I PRed on this race last year. I also recently learned a lot more about the charity that this race helps out, My Friend’s Place.

I’ve never done treadmill training prior to a race before. All my walking training has been on city streets, and I don’t do that too often. It’s not super safe with traffic and the sidewalks (if there are any) aren’t too even. So for all my past races, I hadn’t training probably as much as I should.

But this time, I’ve been spending about an hour and a half each week on a treadmill (1/2 of an hour-long class 3 times a week). And while those treadmill segments have been tough on me because of all the incline work we do, I’ve never gone into a race feeling this prepared.

But I had never really been this nervous either. My last race was back in June for the Culver City 5K, and that was my worst 5K time ever. But that was also a race that I did before I started at Orangetheory.

Packet pick up on Friday was very easy. It was the same place it was last year, so I was able to get in and out in less than 10 minutes (not easy to do when you are at a major tourist attraction in Hollywood). I got home and got my bib number ready as well as a shirt that I bought just for this race.

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I also went to get my usual race bag ready. When I went to grab my personal heart rate monitor, I saw this.

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I haven’t used it in a while since I use the heart rate system at Orangetheory. I’m sure that all it needs is a new battery, but I wasn’t going to run around town trying to find a watch store that was still open. So I decided to download the Map My Run app on my iPhone and use that to time myself (more on that in a minute).

I set multiple alarms for 5am, because I’m always nervous that I won’t wake up. Except this time, I woke up at 3am and could not get back to sleep. I finally admitted to myself that I wasn’t going to sleep anymore around 4:45am and started to get ready.

It was an easy drive in the dark to get to the race start. I parked, and by the time I was on the street, the sun was coming up.

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I thought that I would be alone for this entire race, but a fellow blogger, Anne, decided to start the race walking with me. We got started pretty quickly and I felt like we were going a good pace. Anne stuck with me for about the first 10 minutes, but she had planned on running, so after 10 minutes she said that she’d meet me at the finish line and was off.

I was in a groove during this race. I had added some new songs to my race mix on my phone and I was keeping up with the pack of people (not getting passed every second like last year).

Then, all of a sudden the Map My Run app spoke to me over my music. It had said that just over 17 minutes had passed and I had done 1 mile.

I was shocked! At Orangetheory I average about 18:45 a mile. But I thought that maybe I was going a lot faster than I thought. But then about a minute later, I passed the 1 mile marker.

I was confused, but I kept going. Each time the app talked to me, I was averaging about a 17 minute mile but I wouldn’t see the official mile marker until about a minute later. I didn’t know if the course was long or if the app was off. Either way, I was making great time and I wasn’t hurting nearly as much as I usually do.

The halfway point was great to see. I was thinking of this race as about 2 treadmill sections at Orangetheory (since I’m on the treadmill just about 30 minutes each class). As I turned around and walked the other direction, I realized just how many people were still behind me! This was not at all like last year where at the half way point I was in the last 5 people and the van to pick people up was right on my tail.

I got closer and closer to the finish line and again at the 3 mile point, my app told me that I had done 3 miles well before I saw the official marker. But I knew that the finish line was close and I hurried up.

I crossed the finish line and looked at the timer on the app. It said 56:53 and that the race was 3.36 miles. I was really confused about the distance listed. I ended up finding someone who had a GPS watch and asked him what his watch said the distance was. He said it was 3.11. So clearly, my app was off and all my mile times it was telling me was wrong.

While I waited for the official time to be posted, I tried not to be mad and just look at the awesome medal I earned!

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When my official time was posted, I did the race in 56:52! That’s a huge improvement for me! About 10 minutes fast than my 5K in June and just about a minute and a half faster than my old PR!

I was so happy to have a new PR, but I was pretty pissed about the app lying to me. If I try to use it again for another race, I might just ignore the distance it says and just look at the stopwatch feature since that was pretty accurate.

I found Anne at the finish line and she got a PR as well! We took some victory pictures and then we each had to head home (I was in serious need of a nap).

When I got home, I took a quick shower and noticed that even getting home I was not feeling as sore as I usually do. I normally have issues with my feet and hips hurting after a race, and the only pain I was feeling this time was some tightness in my legs and the pain from a massive blister that pops and shredded the skin (it looks super gross and I will spare you all from having to see a picture of it).

Even now, a few days after my race, I’m not feeling my usual pain. Seriously, my Orangetheory workouts have been paying off! Even if the scale isn’t going down the way I feel it should, the non-scale victories keep showing up! If I’m able to do more races without my usual pain, I might consider doing more races or even thinking about trying for a 10K one day (I had really given up on that dream).

While I’m still a little down that I was so excited to hear on the app that I was doing 17 minute miles when that wasn’t true, I’m trying to only focus on the positives. And what made me smile even more than getting a PR that day was putting on all the medals that I’ve earned over the past 2 years and seeing how far I’ve come.

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My medal holder is starting to look full, but I know that there is room for whatever races I end up doing next year.

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Culver City 5K (or 5K #2 For The Year)

I’ve obviously slowed down on the number of 5Ks that I’m doing this year. In fact, at this point last year, I had just done 5K #5 (and reached my year-long goal 6 months early!). But when I had that goal in mind, I didn’t have any other workouts that I love. Now I have 2 different workouts that I’m really enjoying so my 5Ks aren’t getting the same focus that they used to.

But I’m still going to do some of my favorite races, and this past weekend was one of the ones I really enjoyed last year. It’s the Culver City 5K (if you couldn’t guess that already from the title of the post). I like this race for a few reasons. One, it’s a super flat course. I actually walk a similar path when I do some walking in my neighborhood. Two, this 5K starts and ends about 3 blocks from my house so it’s extremely easy to get to. And three, there is a discounted entry for substitute teachers of Culver City Unified (which I’m still signed up to do), so I don’t have to spend a ton of money to do the race.

This past Saturday was the bib pickup and it’s held in the parking lot of one of the schools I used to sub at a lot. It’s easy to get to and since this race is pretty small, it’s only takes about a minute to get everything done.

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Since the race is pretty much down the street from me and it had an 8am start, I didn’t have to wake up too early. But as soon as I got up in the morning, I realized that it could be a pretty warm morning. And I’ve had issues with crazy hot 5Ks in the past and haven’t liked it. So I drank a ton of water and tried to think cool thoughts as I headed over to the start line.

I was also very excited for this race because I finally got to meet a new friend in person! Lyndsay blogs on The Balance Brunette and we had connected recently over several FB groups that we are both a part of. She lives very close to me and we had been trying to meet up at a happy hour or something, but our schedules just didn’t match up. But we realized that we both were doing this 5K, so we finally got to meet!

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Originally, Lyndsay was going to run this 5K, but since some things had come up, she changed her mind and decided to walk with me. I warned her that I am slow and if she felt like she wanted to go faster she could ditch me and my feelings wouldn’t be hurt. But she said that she planned to stick with me.

Of course, I had to get a quick “before” photo of me before the race started.

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We ended up being toward the front of the pack for the start, but we stayed off to the side to make sure we didn’t make any of the runner mad.

This was one of my slowest 5Ks ever. I finished in about 1 hour and 8 minutes. But I don’t care. I know that I walked slower than I would if I was racing alone because I wanted to chat with Lyndsay while we walked. And if I had been going as fast as I could, I would be too out of breath.

We had a nice walk together just chatting about random stuff. We did a lot of chatting about blogging and the various issues we both have. We also both babysit so we talked about that as well.

And at around the one mile marker, one of the coolest things that has happened to me so far regarding this blog happened. Lyndsay and I were walking and I was telling her a funny story about a store that we were walking past when I heard someone yell, “Jen, hi!”. I turned to look who had called my name and I didn’t recognize her. Since I’m horrible with faces and names I figured I just forgot who she was. But as she came up to me she told me that she reads this blog and just wanted to say hello! How cool is that!?!? And to the woman who said hi, you totally made my day! But you didn’t say what your name was so I can’t acknowledge you properly. Hopefully you are reading this and you can comment and let me know who you are!

After finishing the 5K, Lyndsay and I had to get some victory pictures with our new race bling.

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This was actually Lyndsay’s first race where she got a medal (and I know it won’t be the last)!

Eventually we headed our separate ways to head home.

Even though this was my slowest 5K possibly ever, I totally consider this a success. I finished and I didn’t finish last (about 15 people finished after us). That’s all that matters. And I got to finally meet my new friend.

My medal holder in my living room is starting to get a bit full now. I think it looks awesome. My dad is scared that I’m reaching the weight limit on it. Hope not because I know I’ve got some more awesome race bling coming up later this year!

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