About six months before we started fertility treatments, I ran my second marathon. A few weeks after that, I ran my fastest 5k to date, albeit still 10-15 seconds under what my goal was. Since having the twins, I’ve been having trouble getting back to where I was before the pregnancy. Granted, I still have more than respectable 5k times, but it irritated me that not only was I was a solid minute slower, I just couldn’t seem to get any faster.

The sad part was, for the first few years of running, I didn’t pay attention to things like pace average – I was just looking a the final number. I am and never was an elite athlete by any means, but my 5k and 10k pace averages were pretty fast and I simply had no idea! Sometimes, I think it was better when I was ignorant, because I look at the pace averages I’d need to have now to meet my previous times and immediately think “crap, I dunno if I can do that”.

But I digress. Over the summer, a group started weekly speedwork, which I’ve been pretty consistent about going to. In starting to train for this marathon, I’ve also put more focus on speed and time.

The James Island Connector Run is a pretty popular run in the area. I ran the 10k a few years ago and swore I would NEVER RUN IT AGAIN. In fact, I referred to it as “the evil”, mostly because the out and back course not only had 6 inclines, but a RIDICULOUS headwind.

Then, amnesia set in. Well, kinda. The same friend was visiting again from Antigua and signed up for this race. I signed up for the 5k this year, thinking that perhaps based on the websites comment that it is a “fast course”, I might be able to see some improvement in my time.

The website lied. And I should have known. It is a bridge after all and so there is going to be at least some incline. There was a finishers medal though, so there’s that.

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I was using this race as part of my long run for the weekend, and so the goal was to get as many miles in as possible. I figured I could reasonably race the 5k and still be able to finish the rest of the run, which turned out to be mostly true.

 I ran a mile warm up around the start line and then made my way to the front of the pack with just a couple minutes to spare. I stretched my pyriformis and calves and then got ready to run, wondering if I had missed anything (this will become significant later).

There isn’t a ton to report in a 5k, because its really just 3.1 miles of pain and discomfort (at least in my experience), or as my friend Amy would say “a ride on the pain train”. The first incline was the steepest though it didn’t feel too terrible (at the time) and I finished the first mile in 7:10. Too fast, considering the incline but I hadn’t really been factoring that in at the time.

This was advertised as a "fast" 5k course...with 3 hills. Liars.
This was advertised as a “fast” 5k course…with 3 hills. Liars.

It was also about this point that it was confirmed that I was overdressed. I tend to warm up quickly and the fact that I was already uncomfortable was not a good sign. But I pressed on, finishing mile 2 in 7:15. Again, probably too fast considering the second incline.

It was between miles 2-3 that the trouble started. The final mile had a tiny incline in comparison to the first two, but by the time I got there my quads were on fire (and that would be what I forgot to stretch) and I just died. I died a horrible 5k death. I walked not once, not twice, but THREE times in that mile, clocking in at a miserable 7:48. I was practically counting steps to get myself to the end without walking again when my eye caught the time clock and noticed it still reading 22:xx. I have no idea where it came from, but dammit if I was going to cross that finish line in a 22:59 even if it meant I puked at the end. Some poor dude was racing me to the end probably thinking I was trying to beat him, but I didn’t have the energy in me to tell him not to bother – I didn’t give a crap about beating HIM.

My watch read 23:02 at the finish. Crap. But then I realized my watch read 23:02 for 3.14 miles, and so I took my pace average and figured out that my finish time for 3.1 miles was 22:50, which I was totally counting as my time now. This is about 25 seconds faster than my most recent 5k time, and considering the hills, I was totally happy with it.

I jogged back with Kim in attempt to accrue some more mileage and went to wait for the awards with 9 miles under my belt. I had about medium hopes for an award and come to find out not only did I score 3rd place in my age group, but my finish time registered as 22:59 (and I didn’t even throw up)!

A wise woman mentioned to me that since I was racing, I could subtract 3 miles from my run that day (18 to 15) because I was working harder and the benefit would be the same. Sounds good to me, so after some water, food and chit chat I headed out for the final 6 miles.

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By the last 2 miles I was REALLY struggling though, so even if I hadn’t been able to subtract some miles I likely would have been done at 15 anyway (Until I re-did the math later and realized I actually did 14).

In the end, not quite back to my old time yet, but I think I can get there!

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