Slow and steady wins the race is the lesson behind the well known story of the Tortise and the Hare.
The Turtle 5k supports Meals on Wheels and is in honor of Lena Cox, a long time volunteer. She was nicknamed the turtle because she believed very much in the perseverance lesson involved in the story. Interestingly, it turns out that I know Lena’s daughter, though mostly in passing. Her family also attends the church we attend. Not only that, but she has twins so of course that is something I pay attention to.
Like the previous years, the race is an easy out and back on a local bike/running trail, with the awards at a church within walking distance (literally down the street). While speaking to Arden (Lena’s daughter) prior to the race I learned that there is not a single runner involved in the organization of this race, which I find particularly impressive because it really is very well run for a small local race.
Too cheap to pay the transaction fee involved in registering online, I showed up an hour before race start to register in person and hung out talking to a couple other runners while waiting to warm up. Melissa showed up about a half hour before race time. Her plan was to run this race as part of a tempo workout. She had offered to pace me but since I really never accepted or denied it I was a little surprised to find out this was still her plan.
Before the Charlie Post 5k, which brought my 5k PR from a 22:17 to a 22:12, my PR was OLD. Like pre infertility old. I hadn’t really trained for it but ran a 5k a few weeks after a marathon and ran it without really knowing much about pace. Ever since then, I have been after this elusive 21:xx 5k time. Of course I had to take quite a bit of time off from running during the IVF and subsequent twin pregnancy, but this is a goal I have seriously been chasing for over 5 years.
In January, after a surprisingly successful 2 mile speed work time, I started out too fast for my ability at Charlie Post. I ran mile 1 in 7:03 and mile 2 in 7:01, and then died a slow death during mile 3 with a 7:16 (though wind didn’t help) for a 7:06 average. It was enough for a 5 second PR, but obviously not the 21:xx I had hoped for.
I changed my pacing strategy for Catch the Leprechaun, hoping to stay at a steady 7:05 or so pace. Again, the first two miles went as planned with a 7:04 and 7:05, but I died again at mile 3 (though again wind didn’t help) with a 7:12 for another 7:06 average, but a longer overall time becuase my watch measured the course at 3.15
For Turtle, I planned to start slower than my goal and gradually work my way faster – a 7:08, 7:06, 7:04ish. I told this to Melissa before the start and then we were off.
Mile 1 – 7:07
No matter how hard I try I simply cannot seem to keep myself from jolting out of the gate too quickly. Once my watch caught up with my pace I was going a 6:45 so I had to slow down. We ran a short but steep up and downhill twice which I knew I’d be cursing on the way back, but overall I felt not too out of breath so I was hopeful. I stayed slightly ahead of Melissa for this mile.
Mile 2 7:05
I started to feel it about halfway through this mile and had to work to pick up my speed towards the end. I was slightly ahead again until a little after the turn around where I started to lag slighty behind. I could tell she was saying something to me but I had my music on so I had no idea what it was. Hopefully it was something encouraging. Mostly I was just annoyed she had enough breath to speak. 🙂
Mile 3: 7:07
Ya’ll. If I had the energy to curse the short but steep up and downhill we had to do again, I would have used more swear words than are currently in the English language. It was in this mile that I was very thankful Melissa was pacing me because with no other female in sight if I had been alone I’m not sure I would have kept pushing to go faster. In fact, at one point I wanted to swear at her for nicely motioning me to go faster because I WAS GOING AS FAST AS I COULD DAMNIT. Luckily if I had tried to talk I probably would have collapsed so I just yelled it in my head instead. I stopped looking at my watch once we hit about 2.5 miles because literally all my concentration was going towards trying to not
fall too far behind her die.
The Home Stretch (last .1) – 6:23
So, just before my heard my watch beep for mile 3 I could see the finish clock, and it read 21:15. Somehow, even though I had literally felt my body start to shut down, that visual was what I needed to speed up for that last tenth of a mile. I kept my eyes on that clock THE WHOLE TIME just trying as hard as I could to get there before it reached 22:00. It almost felt like slow motion.
I had the wherewithall to stop my watch after I finished but I spent a solid minute crouched over trying to catch my breath. Melissa is is asking me what my time was and I am like dunno….can’t….breathe…..trying….not….to.. vomit but I lifted my wrist to see that it said 21:57. Not only that, but for a perfect 3.10 distance. I can speak more than one word at this point but am still mostly just trying to get some more oxygen to my brain so it still hadn’t really sunk in.
But then suddenly it did.
I had done it. Finally. FINALLY.
I ran a long cool down and made it back just in time for awards. Melissa of course won female overall (I mean if she had really seriously raced it she would have beat me by more than 2 minutes) but I came in second which won me a 15$ gift card to Fleet Feet and Road ID.
After the awards we passed by the medal table and I stopped to look for my official time, which I was pleasantly surprised to read was actually a 21:54!
I spent the rest of the day floating on a happy PR cloud. So it turns out a little slower may, in fact, win the race. Or at least get the PR. Also, THANK YOU SO MUCH MELISSA!