#MyRoadToTobaccoRoad

Week 4: Parts 1, 2 and 3

The 5K race.

The Knightdale Cupid 5K – this is what really got my wheels turning and my heels kicking on the idea of signing up for another half-marathon. My college roommate and good friend asked me if I would be interested in doing some easy races with her as she got back into her routine after her baby #2. The first one being this particular 5K in Knightdale where she lives. I had told her I would be happy too (#that’s what friends do). So, then, I got to thinking about increasing my mileage and I did and the rest is history with me signing up for the Tobacco Road Half-Marathon.

Fast forward and here we are at the week of the race. Now, with it being a 5K, that’s 3.1 miles, I know I can complete the distance no problem. My dilemma is that  I’m 3 miles into a long run before I’m feelin’ it and easing into my groove. At 3 miles in a 5K the finish line is glooming up ahead. And I could always just run it for fun (and running IS fun of course) and run it as if it’s the first 3 miles in a long run or I could RUN the dang thing. That would mean I would need an easy week with some rest for my legs, while still being in half-marathon training mode (since the race is on a Saturday I’m going to have to give up or alter my long run for this week) and a really good warm up on race day to include a mile or more before the race even starts and no stomach bugs.

Tuesday I did 6 miles. But it was slow and stiff. I had done my 10 miler on Sunday instead of Saturday the previous weekend so I didn’t have my normal 2 day recovery period, I only had one day to recover. I wound up having left knee pain almost immediately after starting my stiff jog. I slowed to a walk and then tried jogging again but continued to have pain so I slowed to a walk. Once I hit the first mile I tried running again and thankfully did not have any more pain and the stiffness was lessening. However, my pace was slow and inconsistent. I also had a disagreeable music situation. That went on with lessening frequency over the next 2 miles. Finally, at around 3 miles (imagine that) I felt my body begin to relax, my stride to lengthen out and found a steady pace.

For Thursday, I wasn’t sure the best way to approach it. I still had to train for the half-marathon but I wanted to conserve some for the race on Saturday. Ultimately, I decided to keep to my 6 miles, to incorporate some hill work but to keep it all nice and easy. I started with a one mile walk, followed by a 3 mile, slow, flat jog and finished with 2 miles of walking some hills.

I decided to forgo my long run on the weekend. I planned on really tackling the 3.1 miles of the 5K. Giving it all I had, holding nothing back. The increase in pace would be an extra exercise in itself. Going through race day anticipation and getting up, getting ready and getting out the door with all the gear would be good practice. My pace increases at a race. So I could count on using this for the 5K, but for the half-marathon if I don’t watch my pace upfront I will have burned everything up before the last half of the race. I also thought a weekend off from a long run would give my body a chance to do some recovery and rest before the last half of training. The left knee pain told me to hold back some.

Thursday night…headache. Ibuprofen, water, early to bed.  Lying in bed, I am just not feeling right. I feel achy, all over, despite an easy work out that morning. My back hurts, my throat has started to hurt. I’ve decided something isn’t right. 10 pm – the 1 yr old starts crying. I go in his room and when I put my hands on him I immediately know he has a temperature of some sort. Very fussy one year old with a low grade temp and me not feeling good – sounds like a virus. OK, we give him some ibuprofen and try to get him back to sleep. Now all I can think of is “what if this is the flu…what if this is strep throat…”. So I kick my feeling just fine husband out of bed to go sleep on the couch incase he hasn’t been infected. It’s going on midnight before the 1 year old is ready to lay down in his crib and I’m getting back in bed. I’m running a low grade fever at this point. At 4 am I’m up again and taking some more ibuprofen. Thankfully in the morning my husband gets up, handles the kiddos, the 1 year old appears fine, no temp for him, the nanny comes and I get a rare and very special few hours of precious sleep. When I get out of bed Friday morning, I’m feeling much better and stay so all day long. After determining that we must be over our Freaky Friday Virus Friday night I decide to plan to go to the Cupid 5K and get everything packed up for the race the next day.

Saturday morning – race day. It is a fairly normal morning for me. Up around 4:30 am, coffee, blog reading, bible reading, off to the bathroom to change and get ready. I start with a half sandwich of peanut butter and fruit jam. I wake the husband up at 5:45 am. I had told him the day before that we needed to be shooting for a departure time of 6:30 am (we are never on time – I have to give him a 30 minute window). I head to the kids room around 6 am. I had already laid out their clothes the night before when I was packing my race day bag and the items they would need (snow pants, jackets, hats, gloves, blanket, stroller, diaper bag, snacks, milk). The 3 year old popped right up and was ready go and very cooperative and eager for an early morning adventure. The 1 year old was a little moodier about being woken up, but fell in line quickly with the 3 year old’s enthusiasm for the adventure.

6:30 am came and went and between bathroom trips, shoe changes, bag loading and coffee making we were out the door by 7 am. A boiled egg and a half a banana and some more coffee while I drove because the husband just doesn’t do early morning well and were arrived in downtown Knightdale at 8 am. The race started at 8:30 am and I had wanted to arrive a little earlier to have time to get my bib number, go to the bathroom stretch well and get in a warm up mile or two. But it was what it was. When we were driving down the main drive to find a place to park we spotted by good friend doing her warm up jog which made meeting up easier. I parked and hopped out of the car, grabbed my gear, kissed the kids and the husband and headed off to get my race bib.

My bib number was 533. I pinned it on my stomach while I waited in the line for the bathroom. I got in about a half mile jog, stretched and got in about another half mile before it was time to line up for the race start. I tend to not really care where I line up for the start of a race but my friend likes to be toward the front so she doesn’t have to battle through other joggers as paces are set. With 5 seconds to go we all counted down and then we were off at 8:31 am. Pretty quickly I got my music set and my phone placed back in my flip belt. The runners dispersed pretty quickly and being toward the front did mean I had less people to swerve around and between and I fell into my pace pretty quickly. I set a faster pace from the start than I normally would since the distance was 3.1 miles. Most of the course was downhill or flat. I was shocked at my split times being in the 8 minute range. I was worried that I would give out by the end of the race but figured it was worth a try to sustain the pace. And I did. The last quarter to half mile of the race was up-hill but I was able to push through and finished in 27:30. I wound up finishing 5th in my age group.

I was very pleased with the Knightdale Cupid 5K and my performance (particularly with the Freak Friday Virus). It gave me a chance to remember how race day anticipation builds the week before, how important it is to rest the week before the race and how different your race pace can be from your training pace and keeping that in check for a longer race so you don’t burn out before the end of the race.

But mostly, it was fun. It was fun to run with my college roommate again. It was fun to have our families there with our kids and our husbands cheering us on. It was fun to go to breakfast at IHOP after the race and out eat the exercise we did. It was fun to see the kids play together. It reminded me that too often these days we have to have a reason to go somewhere or get together because it seems so hard to make a plan and pack up all the stuff and battle the traffic and handle the toddler emotions and figure out how to change the baby’s diaper when there is no changing station. The friendship, the fellowship, the comradery, the love, the joy – it’s therapy. It’s soulfully reviving. And we really shouldn’t need a reason because, in the end, it is always worth it.

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