Running on gluten-free carbs…

Frostbite 5K – Louisville, KY (January 7, 2012)

Crossing the finish line of the Frostbite 5K - Cherokee Park - Louisville, Kentucky

Crossing the finish line of the Frostbite 5K - Cherokee Park - Louisville, Kentucky

Race: Frostbite 5K

Place: Cherokee Park, Louisville, KY

Date: January 7, 2012

Time: 26:12

First race of 2012 and what a way to kick it off.  I think the running I did in December has definitely been a big help to me, so I hope to keep up this trend as the year progresses and maybe, just maybe, set a new 5K PR.  I came close on this race.

Here’s the deal.  Cherokee Park is loaded with steep climbs up hills.  This is no exaggeration.  While I have run it numerous times before in various other races, nothing ever prepares me for the hills.  They are killer.

And this race…we started off with quite a long uphill climb.  I was determined to keep my pace as much as possible without wearing out my legs before I even got to the first mile marker.  So, while I felt I was moving slowly, I suppose I was doing better than I thought.  I would like to thank my incline training on the treadmill in recent weeks for that.  Because at Mile 1, I was clocking in at 8:41 seconds.

But there is a bit more to this story…

I had it all planned out in my head.  Get up in the morning.  Relax online.  Perhaps do a pre-race blog.  Drink water.  Have a light breakfast.  Drink more water.  Charge iPod Nano.  Add to playlist of iPod Nano.  Get dressed.  Wait for roommate to consume her breakfast.  Head out to race.  Run.

But the best laid plans never quite work out that way.

Around 2:00 a.m., unknown to me, the batteries in my alarm clock died.  So, I just happened to wake up randomly and reach out to check my iPhone time and saw that it was 6:43 a.m.  My roommate was set to be awake at 6:45 a.m. so she could eat breakfast and we could head out to Cherokee Park and find decent enough parking since it is always an issue when I run there.  Like I said…the best laid plans…

Getting out of bed, immediately I had a sour feeling in my stomach.  Great.  Just what I needed was an upset tummy on race day.  I hurried from my room to preheat the oven and then dashed back into my room, grabbed my running clothes and changed.  I laced up my shoes and by the time I came back out, my roommate was on the sofa, wondering what the hell was going on.  I poured cereals, did up some scrambled eggs and a slice of Ghost Toast for her to nosh on, and then consumed my cereal and drank one glass of water.  My stomach didn’t feel any better.

Dishes were done.  She was changed.  And we hustled out the door to get to Cherokee Park over the river.

We got there in good time, but the normal start place was not bustling as usual.  So, we began following others, who apparently were also looking for the start of the race, and we ended up making some turns as the lead car (bless their hearts) finally asked for directions.  We found our way to what looked like the start, parked all the way at the crest of a steep hill and made our way down.  I went to get my packet, tech t-shirt, and some pins for my number.  I got pinned up (I was number 89, WOOHOO!) and then began to do my stretches and get warmed up.

As I was standing there, I learned a lesson in patience.  Not because I was eager to get on with the race (although, I was), but because beside me was a couple who had two children in the race.  And the entire time we were standing there, they were barking orders at the kids, about proper pace, technique, who is going to be who into the finish line, etc.  And it angered me because that’s the quickest way to make a child hate a sport.  You take the fun out of it and they no longer what to do it.  I had to move away for fear that I might turn and say something, when it really is none of my business.  But I really, really wanted to shake them and tell them just to let their kids enjoy the race.  Winning isn’t everything.  Needless to say, they encouraged their young children to be at the very front when the race was to start, and those in charge of the race insisted they get moved back for safety reasons.  Oy.  Stage parents for runners.

The time to line up at the start came and I positioned myself, as I normally do, toward the front center to keep my pace steady.  I find this to be a good strategy for me, who isn’t out to win, but just to run.  I have my own goals in mind when I line up at that start.  Normally, it’s just to do my best and just run the entire thing…no matter how steep the hills may be.  And at Cherokee Park…they’re pretty steep.

We were huddled at the start for a few moments and then, the whistle blew and we were off.  I was feeling better.  My stomach was beginning to settle, and I started off at a decent enough pace, I figured.  And then…ahead was a hill.  And it just kept going up…up…up…up…(you get the picture).  I braced for it, and began the steady climb, feeling my legs fight gravity, slowing down just so I could keep breathing normally.  Hills always get me.  It never fails.  I watch other runners power up them with ease at these races where I fall behind, fight for breath, push myself harder just to make the climb.  Some make it look so easy.  I envy them.  I don’t think hills will ever be easy for me.  But I do want to get better at them.  There’s a goal there…

At mile 1, my time was called out at 8:41.  I was already running faster than normal.  I took it for what it was worth, considering hills were involved.  I did whisper to myself to ease up…not to get going to fast because tired legs at the end of a race suck.  The goal is to finish strong.  Before I knew it, mile 2 was creeping up.  My time wasn’t called out, but I was feeling a little tired.  I pressed on though.  Made the turn and headed back.  And then I saw people who had already finished.  I had runners shouting to finish strong.

FINISH STRONG!

Unaware of any timing (I do not wear a watch when I run), I just pressed on harder, sped up as much as I thought my body could take.  And when I crossed the finish line, I saw that I was in 26 minutes with some low seconds.  It was an amazing feeling.  Second fastest 5K time and the official time wasn’t even known to me yet.  I went and got some water to rehydrate, walked around a bit, and then, since I had to get things done and get ready to head out of town for the rest of the day, head home.  No award ceremony for me this time.  I never win, but I do love cheering for those who do.

It was while I was at lunch that the official time was posted for the Frostbite 5K.  I let out a squeal of joy when I saw 26:12.  I couldn’t believe it.  Only 14 seconds short of beating my fastest 5K yet.  And my fastest 5K time came on a really, really flat course back in October during the Louisville Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure event.  So, coming that close on a hilly course made me feel unstoppable.  I have been working intervals and inclines into my running prior to this, and it seems to be paying off.

I texted my mom the news of my time and she came back with words I will treasure always.  She said:

“Baby, you don’t run…you fly.”

First race down…2012…bring on the next!


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