Today I ran my first 5K since 1994. For some people that is really no big deal. For me, I can't even begin to express what it means. I'm not going to re-tell my story for this post but the past 5 months have been an incredible journey for me and today was just something of a culmination of that journey.
I began my Pre Pre-Race strategy almost 3 months ago when I downloaded the Couch 2 5K app. I had already lost some weight from my healthier eating and I had been walking for almost a month. I decided that I wanted to run again like I used to do when I was in law school. I did some research and felt that the C25K was my best choice. I used the app over a 9 week period and was able to go from running only 60 second intervals to running a complete 5K in a little over 42 minutes. I have since moved on to Bridge to 10K program and have completed the first 2 weeks, but even though I had been able to run 5K on my own I had not actually run a race. When I downloaded the C25K app I immediately searched for a race that would fit into my schedule for finishing the program and not interfere with my family vacation. The Great Buffalo Chase 5K at the Buffalo Trace Distillery was my answer. And I figured if everything fell apart I'd be in the perfect location to drown my sorrows. I also decided that I wanted to run a 12:00 minute mile as my pace. I'm not sure where I came up with that number but it sounded good to me.
I decided that Friday was going to be my last running day and that I was just going to do nothing for Saturday and Sunday. I thought that it might make the run today a little easier. You know I believe that I have a limited amount of awesomesauce so I didn't want to waste it over the weekend. I also spent some time stretching, especially my left foot. I have Plantar Fasciitis and when that tendon tightens up it can be very difficult to even walk. So I spent quite a bit of time stretching and icing my foot hoping to keep the tightness and pain to a minimum. I was also pretty good about my diet. I didn't want to eat anything that might create any issues for me so I stuck to what I would normally eat. I did have a very tough time going to sleep last nite. I went to bed about 10:00 thinking that I would need to get up around 6 to have time to eat, stretch and drive the 35 minutes to Frankfort. I wasn't able to get to sleep until after midnight. I knew that I would be tired but I was really feeling nervous and excited about the race. It was kinda like the Disney World commercial where the little boy tells his mom "I'm too excited to sleep". As weird as it may sound I felt the same way last nite.
I planned on getting up at at about 6:00 so I would have time to eat a little, make my latte (I'm hooked), stretch, and then drive to Frankfort. My wife decided to do the race with me (walking) so I knew that I'd have her to drive so I could chill out on the ride over. I ended up waking up at 4:45 and couldn't go back to sleep. Again, I think it was just a combination of nerves and excitement. Okay, maybe it also had something to do with the fact that someone was snoring just a little bit. I'm not going to say who it was but it was only me and my wife in the bedroom and it wasn't me.
So I ended up getting up at 5:45. I had read several things about not drinking coffee before you run to prevent the dreaded 'Code Brown" mid-race. I decided to go ahead and make a latte because I have one every morning. It is part of my morning ritual so I didn't want to deviate too much from my normal routine. I had also done some research about what to eat pre-race but after I got up I decided to go ahead and eat an omelette like I do every morning, with a banana and some Orange Juice. I also decided to have two pieces of whole wheat toast with all natural peanut butter. Doesn't that look so good? And I did arrange the banana under the 2 pieces of toast just so it looked like it was smiling at me, telling me to go out and run the best race that I could run. I was a little concerned that it might be too big of a breakfast but the race wasn't until 8:00 and I was eating at 6:00 so I figured that I would need the extra energy to get me through. Healthy eating, after all, does lead to the creation of much more awesomesauce. After my breakfast I decided to go ahead and take a shower just to follow my normal routine. It really felt good to get in and get warmed up. Again, I was beginning to slowly realize that the more of my "normal" routine I followed, the more relaxed I was feeling.
We headed out for Frankfort, Kentucky at about 6:50 which was about 10-15 minutes later than what I had hoped but I decided that I wasn't going to let it bother me. I knew we'd make it there in time and we did. As we pulled in I could see all the people getting out of there cars, some stretching, some running to warm up, and others just relaxing and having a good time. When we got out of the car we immediately ran into one of my wife's best friends, Scott Hamilton, and his wife Carlita and her daughter, Erin. That really made me feel so much more relaxed and I really started to just take it all and in and enjoy it.
We made our way over to the Guest Shop and there was no line for those who were pre-registered. We immediately got our numbers and t-shirts and headed back out to the car to put the t-shirts in the car. No. We did not wear the race t-shirt at the actual race. I may not have run a race in 17 years but I know better than that. So I got my number pinned on and I felt like I was ready to go. The Beast was feeling a little antsy and was ready to run. As you can see, I made sure to wear my best cheesy smile for my pre-race picture. And yes I realize that I am dressed all in black. It's kinda my thing. I'm comfortable being known as the "Johnny Cash" of runners.
After we got our numbers on we made it back over to the porta-potties and then they announced for the runners to line up. It was still 15 minutes until race time but I was ready to go. It was then that I saw someone looking at me and he said "Hey Beast". It was Corey Q., one of my friends from the website that I use to track my training called DailyMile.com. It was so cool to actually get to meet someone that I've talked to online but never had the chance to meet. After meeting Corey, my wife and I made our way back to her friend Scott and we stood there and chit-chatted a little and waited with nervous anticipation for the start of the race. I went ahead and got my Cyclemeter app set up to track my race and my Nike + app running to track my run as well. Finally, I popped my Bose earbuds in and hit the "Heavy" playlist on my iPod and waited for the gun to sound.
So with the announcement from the bull horn (I was bummed there was no gun) I was off for my first 5K in 17 years. I had forgotten the feeling of running around other people. I was about halfway deep in the pack but knew that I'd quickly drop back once I reached my pace. It was such an exhilarating experience. I felt the instant desire to run faster than I normally did. I didn't want to be left behind. And I noticed that when I would see a guy, or woman, who looked bigger than me, pass me, I would try to speed up thinking "I can't let him (or her) pass me". And when the little kids would lap me I would really feel that urge to go faster. Fortunately, I quickly settled into what I felt was a comfortable pace. It was such a peaceful run. The weather was overcast and humid, but it wasn't hot. I was really worried that the sun would be out and that it would get too hot on top of the humidity. I also was concerned about the general course. I had looked at the map and had actually driven over earlier in the week to try to see the route just to see if there were many hills. Fortunately it was just very small inclines (although they seemed to go on forever at times) but no hills like what I run on my normal route here at home.
The small crowd quickly spread out and by one mile I was in my own space. I had the occasional walker who would run, pass me, walk, let me pass them, and then run and pass me. There was one lady in particular who did this for about the first 2 miles. I have to admit that it got a little old but after about 2 1/4 miles she couldn't keep up with me so I lost her.
The course itself was beautiful. It was along tree lined roads, past water, over bridges, and along creeks, all on the grounds of one of the best Bourbon Distillers in Kentucky, Buffalo Trace.
I have to admit that it was a bit disheartening when I reached around the 1 mile marker and I looked up and saw guys already running back at me. As I continued along I saw my wife's friend, Scott. We exchanged "air" fist bumps and went on our way. I also saw Corey on his return route. He was looking strong. I caught up with Scott's wife, Carlita, and we waved. Then I left her in my dust. (sorry Carlita, I just wanted to say that). Then on my return trip I saw my wife. She took the picture above. Yes it does look like I was walking, but I swear I was running. It's my Forrest Gump cross-country shuffle. You know in the movie where he decides to run back and forth across the country and he's just out there slowly moving along. That's my stride. I'm comfortable with that at this point. And it works for me.
After I reached the 2 mile marker the crowd had really cleared out. It was like running by myself here at home which I really enjoy. I kept hearing my pace from the Nike and Cyclemeter apps at around 12:20. I quickly started doing the math n my head as to how fast I'd have to run my 3rd mile to average 12:00 minutes per mile, but I quickly realized that I wasn't going to be able to maintain that fast a pace in my last mile. I was just very happy that I was averaging a 12:20. That was the fastest consistent pace that I had ever run.
As I got to the 3 mile marker I was beginning to wonder if the race was ever going to end. Honestly, it seemed pretty long. But when I could see the finish line and hear the small crowd cheering, I knew that I had done it. I had a brief desire to run faster but then I realized that there was no need to do that and risk injuring myself. I just continued to run my race. And yes several people passed me in the final 50 feet trying to get their "fast" run on and I was fine with that. I finished and I was thrilled. I was tired, and soaked in sweat, but I finished.
After I finished, I went to the Gatorade coolers and also got a banana. I also grabbed a water so I could go back and meet my wife. I ran into Corey Q. again and met his wife and daughters and I also talked to Scott, Carlita and Erin for a minute. Then I headed back out on the course to find Annita. I hadn't made it that far and I looked up and saw her jogging around the bend. I was so excited to see her. She is not a runner but she was giving it her best. I gave her the water I brought out for her and she walked the rest of the way in. It was so much fun to have her there with me. I was proud of her for knocking it out.
After we talked to Scott and Carlita a little more, I grabbed an oatmeal bar and another Gatorade, and we headed back for Lexington.
Today I ran a 5K. Again, for many people that's no big deal. For me, I can't express how I feel. I hope my blog has given you some insight as to what it means to me. I haven't done this in 17 years. I was in my 20's. This race is the culmination of 5 months of hard work on my part but it is also just the beginning of a much longer journey. My hope is to run a 10K at the end of July and I've signed up for a half marathon on Oct. 23rd. I hope to run the Derby Festival Marathon in Louisville next April. Last, I am going to do everything that I can to prepare myself to compete in the Ironman Triathlon in Louisville next August. Those are very big dreams. But this small taste of success that I have had inspires me to accomplish more. And I know that I can accomplish anything that I set my mind to. And so can you.
Dream big and start small. Bestir the Beast!