You win some, you lose some and it wouldn’t be authentic to only write about the times I felt proud and inspired. I botched this run and that’s on me. Can’t dwell on it; gotta move on; but here’s how it went down:
This year I’m focusing on endurance, because the Ironman is long, duh. But 5k‘s are short and all about speed and I don't seem to have much of that these days. I could have also used some sleep and healthy eating. But no, apparently I don’t do those things either.
The night before, I stayed up late at a birthday party (happy birthday Lori) and ate 2 packages of churritos with chamoy and tamarindo. Then I had a bowl of pepinos, watermelon, strawberries, and more chamoy and tamarindo. That was an appetizer. Then a hearty slice of lasagna, a cup of shrimp cocktail, macaroni salad, and some potato chips. With sour cream and onion dip of course. Then I went back for a second slice of lasagna. I had the hungry catapillar's appetite but instead of eating a nice green leaf the next morning, I chose to run a 5k.
Blake was working so I got up extra early to drop the girls off at their great grandma's house and they were in heaven, then I headed to town. While parking next to a parade’s Tower of Babel packed with toy snakes, potato guns and unicorn bubble makers, I noticed a carni wearing a parka and that's when it hit me. It was stuuuupid cold.
After checking in, a news reporter from the Holtville Tribune started asking me questions and I let it slip that I won last year’s 5k. The second it came out of my mouth, I wished I could stuff it back in. Last year I was at the end of half marathon training and in incredible shape. This year I’m the hungry caterpillar leading him to believe he might be interviewing a winner. Ha! Absolutely not.
I geared up for my usual 1-2 mile warm up to loosen my legs and had my first oh crap moment: I forgot my headphones. Followed by my second oh crap: I can't feel my toes. and my third and actual oh crap: whhhhhy did I eat all that terrible food last night?? (not terrible tasting though, mmm love me some Mexican snacks).
I wish I could say the lead in Mexican candy led to a good run, but all it did was give me lead feet. My heart rate was high I was running slower than normal.
I finished my warm up with 30 seconds to spare and that didn't help the heart rate either.
Cross-country coach, Gerardo Lara lifted his starter gun, pulled the trigger and we all started running. I counted 8 women ahead of me, but that’s normal. Every run, I aim to negative split, meaning I try to get faster with every mile, finishing strong and energetic. In my experience most runners don’t do this so I tend to pass people as I go. Runners tip: do this! Negative splitting will blow your mind!
Half a mile in and we approach the first U-turn. I see a volunteer and thank him. It’s at that exact moment that the wind chill causes a tear to roll down my eye. He's going to think I’m crying! Like I’m emotional about how thankful I am that he's volunteering. Ridiculous!
The course heads back towards the starting line where I see the reporter taking notes, I’m in 7th place now and feel slightly ashamed, then remind myself that no one cares about small-town events. Just run faster.
Just before we turn onto the unpaved section of the course that meanders down the river bottom and around a park, three things happen all at once: (1) I move into 6th place; (2) I see two more volunteers directing us to the right and say thank you; and (3) the wind chill causes each eye to shed a tear. ONE FOR EACH VOLUNTEER! So I'm the most emotional runner ever.
Down in the river bottom, I caught up to two young cross-country girls (love to see young runners!) When they saw my shadow they picked up their pace and I loved it! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run faster/longer because of a stranger's competitiveness, and we both benefit! I hoped they'd keep up because without music, I needed motivation to drown out the sound of my heavy breathing! But hills are draining and it wasn’t long before they dropped off.
Up to 4th place and back on the paved road with half a mile to go!
Top three females were so far ahead I knew it was impossible to gain ground in a half mile but I was catching a guy and thought maybe we could pull each other in. I got up next to him and said “let’s race!” then we both picked up our pace to the finish line.
So I got 4th, and ran a 7’57” pace; 29 seconds slower than last year but that’s ok, I’ve got to keep reminding myself that this year is not about speed, it’s about endurance. It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon, er, Ironman.
Next up is the Blue Angel 10k on February 23rd starting at Sunbeam Lake and ending at a post-race foam party at the El Centro Naval Air Facility. It's so awesome running under the fighter jets practicing their airshow routine and I'd love it if you ran with me too! And this week I'm promising myself to eat better, so expect to see a beautiful butterfly race across the finish line!