Nearly a year ago, after completing three marathons, I needed a break from my nonstop training. I decided to run for me again: no goals, no races, just for my other countless reasons: fun, exhiliration, energy, freedom, head-clearing, therapy, etc. Of course, this didn’t last long and I was again searching for my next race. For someone who needed a break, it’s been a fairly busy summer of racing.
When I first started running in 2010, it was all about the 5Ks. Then I got this crazy idea to jump straight into the marathon distance, and it was “bye bye” 5Ks for nearly two years. I decided it was time to return to the scene of the 3.1.
My mom had been raving for awhile about a local “Running From the Cops” 5K, so in June, that’s just what we did. I was really nervous about how I would do given it had been nearly two years since I had run my last 5K. My body doesn’t even start to awaken until the three-mile mark…how was I going to sprint again? And then there were those seasoned runners who assured me my marathons most likely slowed my pace down. Whaaat??!! After researching that claim, I found that it was true: studies show that many runners actually slowed in their 5K times because their bodies became conditioned to the marathon distance pace.
I decided to go for it and see how I did without stressing too much about it. Race day came, and despite the heat and humidity (my least favorite conditions), I busted out a 23:06. A PR, but not what I was hoping to see. I did place second in my age group, and my mom and sister took first in theirs.
Okay, so my marathon training hadn’t necessarily slowed me down, but it hadn’t really sped me up either.
Let me tell you how much I don’t love speed work. As in, I DO NOT do it. I want to get faster, but when it comes to sprinting during my training or regular runs, I just can’t bring myself to do it. In fact, I’d rather do hundreds of lunges in one workout than run sprint repeats…and I have. Then race day comes and that clock motivates me to speed, and I get a taste for it. I talk a good game about my need to do speed work, then never carry through with it. I did go out and run a mile as fast as I could back in July, so that should count for something.
I figured I would use races as my speed work for awhile and see how it went. I ran another 5K race a few weeks later, finishing in 23:18, placing first in my age group and second overall female. My sister got first in her age group.
My third race, complete with a trek up and down a crazy gravel mountain, came a month after the second, and I finished in 23:28, taking first place in my age group, along with my mom, finishing in 24:14. I heard her hollering “run Forrest, run” behind me during most of the race. She hasn’t gotten the memo that I don’t respond to that.
Then came the GLO Run, which was mostly hills run in the dark with glo-in-the-dark shirts and Glo sticks. Despite the painful hills and late summer night humidity, it was an awesome experience I would absolutely do again. I finished in 23:41 and was the third overall female.
I wasn’t thrilled that I was losing speed with each race, but knew what was happening. Summer running was taking its toll again and slowing me down. I didn’t complain much because as always, I am grateful that I am able to run period. I set my sights on some fall races and was certain my PR days were nearing when the cooler weather hit.
Two weeks ago, I set out to run my favorite 5K. If you haven’t read about my pumpkin, please indulge yourself immediately. I always get the most nerves before this race because it gets bigger every year bringing with it a TON of competition. I normally don’t care about trophies and am more concerned with the clock, but this is one race where I DO care. They are that awesome! Like my marathon medals, this is one award that can instantly put a huge grin on my face.
Despite getting faster and always PRing at this race (the pumpkin really pushes me), after my first year running it, I have yet to score another pumpkin trophy. Two years ago, I ran a 23:45 and placed third in my age group, bringing home a pumpkin medallion.
This year, I did the same, only this time, I ran it in 22:10. Woohoo!
It was a day of PRs. My husband PR’d at 23:34, which is amazing considering he averages about two runs per week; my niece and nephew knocked several minutes off their times, with times of 23:35 and 23:20 respectively. My sister, Kim ran a 27:11, and last but not least, my mom ran a 22:35. Yes, the 63-year-old running legend who never trains passed me at the two-mile mark and ended up finishing a mere 25 seconds behind me. She also won her age group, as did my niece.
All in all, it was a great day. Now, as I’ve said a hundred times before, it’s time to get serious.
I’m torn between my running goals right now and am trying to find balance while determining which will come first: improving my 5K time (aka breaking 20 minutes) or pursue my Boston qualifier. Both challenges are equally addicting, but I will say that I don’t love running as hard as I do in the 5K. That makes me want to run harder until I do, but then there is that not-so-little voice in my head calling out to me: “it’s time to set your sights on Boston.” I am going to achieve both goals eventually, but which will come first? Time will tell, but for now, I will be working on…both. 🙂