Sunday, April 29, 2012

Race Against Racism Recap

Yesterday was my first serious race thus far:  the 5 mile Race Against Racism put together by the Gettysburg YWCA. To me that's a HUGE step from a 5k, even though it's not even double the distance, since a 5k is 3.1 miles.  But, since my last 5k race was the Gettysburg YWCA's Encore Breast Cancer 5k in October and I did at least 1/3 of that 5k at a walk.....this was a big deal.  In fact, up to this point I had not completed a race before that I had been able to maintain a run throughout.

Until YESTERDAY!  I ran the whole thing! Not only that, I surpassed my pace goal of a consistent 12:30-13:00 min/mile pace with a steady 12 min/mile pace!

Me after the race, back at home, feeling great! :)

I realize some people that see that I'm happy with a 12 min/mile pace are shocked and embarrassed that I call myself a runner much less understand why that makes me happy to be so slow.  Well, those people can suck it!  Don't rein on my parade with your "I'm so slow at an 8 min mile" attitude because I'm freaking thrilled to have accomplished 1- no walking breaks, 2- I felt strong throughout the whole race and ran well, 3- I had FUN!

::end rant::

Sorry, but there is nothing more deflating than hearing somebody complain about how slow they are at an 8-9 min/mile when I would be doing backsprings to be running at a 10 min/mile pace let alone an 8-9!  That is not to say that people can't or shouldn't have their own goals and I will always try to be supportive no matter what they are- whether it is a 15 min/mile pace or an 8 min/mile pace.  I know some are certainly capable of KILLING it and running faster than an 8 min mile which is fantastic and shouldn't be downplayed for their sheer awesomeness!  It also wasn't too long ago for me that simply running an entire mile without stopping was a HUGE deal so I completely understand that feeling as well.

So moving backwards to leading up to the race and what made it so awesome...

Friday night I could not drag myself away from reading my favorite running bloggers old entries about races, race preparation, post race, etc etc.  This might seem slightly obsessed but it did accomplish one really important thing- I went into the race with a can-do, positive attitude and felt prepared to do my best and have fun.  I got decent enough sleep, had oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, and made sure to hydrate with water right up until we started.  About 20 minutes before start I went with my plan of taking a PowerBar Energy Gel (chocolate mmmmmmmm), and could only get down about half before my nerves took over and told me I needed to get my butt more warmed up and outside, but it was enough.  I never hit a hard wall during the race and I think this helped that.

So delicious and a perfect energy boost!

Before you ask- yes I have used this specific gel before, during the YWCA's 7hr spin a thon. It gave me such a HUGE kick exactly when I was almost toast, so I knew my stomach could take it.  I've been warned by many runners to never try a new gel/gu on a race day because each one can do different things to your digestive tract ;)

Thank goodness Adrian, the most wonderful and supportive husband ever, got up to go with me to be my gear holder and personal cheering squad!  It was 32 deg when we left the house for the race so it was brisk and I bundled up so I wouldn't start out too cold.  It warmed up a little before start, so I ended up running in running tights, a sleeveless tech shirt with a longsleeve tech tee over it and a baseball hat for warmth and sun protection.  Of course, I had my garmin forerunner 405cx with me too (my best gadget purchase to date!)  I also chose to run with my oldy but goody NB running shoes since they feel the best still on longer runs.

I started out the race FAST, way faster than I meant to!  At the end of the YWCA lot I look down at my Garmin and was shocked to see my speed at just under a 9min/mile pace.  Yikes, way too fast for me! I slowed it down to a 10-11 min/mile pace and powered up the hill to burn off the adrenaline I felt coursing through my veins like the sweetest drug ever.  I settled into a realy solid pace and started chatting with another runner, Melissa, until about mile 1.3- when she started walking.  I wished her good luck, put my ipod back on and kept cruising on at my solid 12 min/mile pace.  I skipped the water stops both times because last time I brought water while running it hit my stomach like a brick so I didn't want to risk that happening again.

Remembering something a blogger had said about volunteers, I smiled and thanked every single volunteer I saw and it actually gave me this huge lift in my spirits each time because they always smiled back and cheered me on.  I cheered on every runner that passed me on their way back (this was an out and back race) as well as every runner I passed (I actually passed a couple people! Freaking awesome!).  This also felt totally perfect to do and made the whole experience more fun.  I will definitely be remembering to do both during my future races.

I had a few tough hill moments where my brain was trying to tell me it was ok to walk- because it saw the group ahead of me walking, but I ignored that little tick and powered through each brutal hill and made sure to mental praise myself for each one.  These mental games are just part of my run that I can't avoid.  It has always been a mental battle for me and I don't think this will every change.  But my body won this time!  Ironically, the hardest section mentally for me was the last half mile which is relatively flat, with a slight downhill at points, but it just feels like you are never going to get to the finish line at times as you go down Fairfield Rd.  But I not only kept going I picked up my pace a bit and as I turned onto the YWCA long driveway, I really picked up my speed and came in at just under 55 minutes!!  In the end, there was an error made by a volunteer at the turnaround point so the race was actually 4.5 miles instead of 5 miles.  But, it was an awesome race and a great experience and I couldn't be happier with my performance!!

When we got home- Adrian had tulips waiting for me! They bloomed this AM and are gorgeous!!


  1. I'm so proud of you, baby! Reading this gives me more confidence for my first 5K next week. I'll make sure to read it again the night before the race ;-)

  2. COLLEEN!!!! You are an amazing woman! I am so proud of your accomplishment! You look amazing and you are beaming! You are such an amazing inspiration for me and probably everyone else. I hope one day to feel the feelings you felt post race! Keep up the amazing work and thank you so much for your daily inspiration!!!!