Thanksgiving Day 5k Race Recap

As mentioned in my first post, I first ran this race in 2015 and was a little disappointed in my results. Granted, I was less than four months out from having a baby and hadn’t run consistently in over a year, but I was unprepared for how…unprepared I was. While I was proud of myself for finishing, but I was barely even sore the next day and knew I was capable of more. So, I decided to sign up for this race again for “revenge” – only my third race of the year, but this time I knew what to expect and I’d been training a bit more (only a month, and still not consistently training, but still better than nothing).

Going into this, I set out my goals; I mostly just wanted to beat my time from last year, but I also wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of running like I did before I had a baby:

A Goal: Sub-40:20 (that was my time at my very first 5k)

B Goal: Sub-42:49 (My time at the Atlanta Women’s 5k earlier that year)

C Goal: Sub-49:25 (my time on this race last year)

All three of us (my husband, my little guy, and I) woke up early that morning, my sweet husband fixed me breakfast (Ezekiel toast with smoked salmon and Greek yogurt cream cheese, yum) and then we piled in for the drive down to Turner Field – I live a good bit north of Atlanta, so it was about a 45 minute drive, but that’s the price I pay for living where I do. The 5k started at 8 and we got there around 7:20. My husband kept our little guy entertained while I used the Port-O-Potties and warmed up. I got in the last corral and patiently waited for the horn.

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Me before the race

When we got the signal, it was a slow walk to the starting mat and I realized I was behind a guy wearing JEANS. He was wearing running shoes, but still, JEANS. Needless to say, he just continued to walk even after he crossed the starting mat and I just fumed until I could pass him – I was raring to go. I was towards the back of the corral, but I was all the way over to the left – I suppose it was my mistake for thinking people in the last corral would know runner “etiquette.” A tip for all you newbie racers: If you’re going to walk in a race, try to stay towards the right of the course so faster people can pass you. I have done run/walk intervals in most of my races and usually try to move over to the right when I’m about to start walking.

When I finally passed Jeans Guy, I was still dodging some walkers on the left (again: grr). I wanted to try to run as much of the first mile as I could just to see how much I could do. I ended up making it almost the whole mile. I walked a bit to catch my breath, but I tried to keep my walk as quick as possible. I was wearing my Garmin Forerunner 220 and had set a pace alert for 14:55 min/mi (the slowest pace available, haha). While I was waking, my watch beeped a lot to let me know I was above my desired pace – not sure if any of my fellow runners were annoyed, but I didn’t care. No one seemed to ask about the noise, and the beeping was a good motivator to make me get moving again as soon as I could.

I also made the decision to run without music – something I rarely ever do. I think the last time I ran a race without music was my first 5k (it was raining and I didn’t want to risk my phone getting wet). I was really happy with my decision – I was able to concentrate on my breathing more and take in the scenery – the fall foliage was beautiful that day. I wanted to get some pictures, but I didn’t want to slow down too much.

Mile two was a bit harder – it was hillier and I couldn’t seem to get my breathing under control. I still continued to do run/walk intervals and run as long as I could. Once I got to mile three, I realized my goal of sub-40 was well within reach so I pushed myself and ran as long as I could. I finally hit the “Mile 3” sign with a little over a minute to spare, and since it was all downhill, I just coasted on the adrenaline of knowing I’d beaten my goal. I started to tear up a little bit, honestly – I know it’s dumb to get emotional over such a slow time, but I was just so happy to beat my goal and know that running wasn’t out of the question for me anymore.

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Pushing myself during the final stretch – and YIKES that hip drop

I grabbed my medal (yes, they give out medals for the 5k – I know a lot of people don’t think 5kers should get medals and I used to agree, but I’ve recently changed my mind), a water, Powerade and my snack box and met my husband and little dude. My husband was so sweet and sent me an encouraging text message about halfway through, but since I didn’t pull my phone out I didn’t see it until the end. He reiterated how proud he was of me, but admitted seeing me do so well, made him miss running, too, so we talked later about alternating race schedules so we could both run.

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Post race with the little dude

The rest of the day I was a little sore, but I was glad – it meant I’d pushed myself and didn’t give in to any mental weakness. Knowing I’d done my best, I was able to fully enjoy the rest of my Thanksgiving with my little dude, my husband and his family, thankful for my family, the fact that I am still healthy and able to run and that I have so much to look forward to.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Happy running!

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Welcome

…to yet another running blog. I realize there are no shortage of these things but I haven’t found many that feature average-to-slow runners who are trying to juggle working out with a full-time job and raising a toddler. So if you’re in the same or similar boat, maybe it will help to know you aren’t alone.

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I’ve never been a particularly athletic person – the extent of my sports experience in high school was being in the marching band (which was much more demanding than many people realize, but still not as intense as traditional sports). When I got to college, my tiny liberal arts school didn’t have a band, so I just occasionally worked out with friends. Once I was out of college, my workouts became even fewer and farther between.

However, I started working for UPS, a corporate sponsor of the Peachtree Road Race and met several people who were runners and/or ran the race. It sounded like an incredible experience and something I aspired to do, but I didn’t think I could do it without a LOT of training – after all, I could barely run one mile without feeling out of breath, let alone 6.2! Finally, in 2012, something in me just said “Screw it! It’s time.” I started training for the race after I signed up in March 2013, first with the Couch to 5k program and then the Bridge to 10k. In 2013 I ran my first race ever (a 5k) in May with a time of 40:20  – really slow, but I was pretty proud of it. On July 4, 2013, I ran my first the Peachtree Road Race and my first 10k, with a time of 1:22:51. Considering I started in the very back, so my race involved a LOT of bobbing and weaving, I knew I could do better. I actually ran another 10k only a week and a half later and shaved almost seven minutes off of my time.

I kept running throughout 2013 and 2014, despite some minor injuries, working full time, and a brief stint back in school. I got slowy faster (Ah! I said it!) and then in January of 2015 I found out I was pregnant! My doctor said it was ok to keep running, but they recommended I keep my heart rate under 140 bpm which was VERY difficult for me – I found out later this was somewhat antiquated advice, but it still weighed in the back of my mind anytime I worked out during my pregnancy. I ran a couple of 5ks, but I wore a heart rate monitor and mostly walked to be safe. I continued to do some prenatal fitness classes; but it just wasn’t the same – I missed running.

After my little Nugget was born, I tried to get back to running when he was about 10 weeks old, but quickly realized I had some issues that lingered from being pregnant. I tried to fit in runs when I could, but it was HARD – for one, my little dude was NOT a good sleeper so I didn’t get much sleep either, plus I was working and trying to breastfeed/pump. I signed up for a 5k on Thanksgiving (about 15 or so weeks postpartum) and ran with the blazing time of 49:25. Yeah. I ran the Atlanta Women’s 5k in March 2016 and the Peachtree again, but was still very slow compared to my old times.   

So, that brings us to now(ish). When my little guy turned a year old, he FINALLY started sleeping through the night, and so I just started waking up at 5 a.m. to go to the gym before work. I’m still working through some hip and pelvic issues, but I ran the Thanksgiving Day 5k again and shaved a full 10 minutes off of my time to get a 39:22! I know it’s not much to most people, but I was ECSTATIC to be sub-40.

My next race is the Atlanta Track Club Resolution Run 4-Miler on January 1st. It will be only my second race longer than a 5k in over two years, but now I’m excited to see how well I can do. I ran a four mile race about two and a half years ago, so I’m not expecting to PR, but I’m trying to keep in mind throughout this training that even slow progress is still PROGRESS.