TMI - Lots of honesty here...scroll down for the race report.
Lately I've been hard on myself. It's hard to look get out of the shower and look directly in the mirror and struggle with the reflection. My body is the mother of 2. My body went through two healthy pregnancies, gaining 60 and 45 pounds respectively. My hips, always on the curvy side spread to 4 feet around when baby girl was born. As much as I would remind myself that I'm only a few months out from giving birth I couldn't quite acknowledge any progress. There is REAL progress happening, at a normal rate and the 5k that I ran on Thanksgiving was a reminder that I needed very badly.
Thanksgiving morning came and myself, the hubby, his sister and brother in law, and brother left all of our kids with the grandparents and headed out for the local turkey trot 5k. My brother in law has never been one to work out, but with a little encouragement he was running his 3rd 5k in a couple of months. My sister in law had a baby 3 months before me and her husband is one of those guys that with very little training (i.e. none) can go out and run a respectable 5k. My husband hadn't run in a couple of weeks. We were a motley (slow) crew.
I hadn't run this race in 5 years or so and this would be my first race since September 2011 and my first 5k since my AG win and near PR in July 2011, but I had been consistently running for the last 6 weeks and even had a couple of 3 mile runs (on trails, no less) in the weeks prior. I gave myself permission to be slow. Very slow. My training runs have been right around 12min/mile pace and I knew better than to expect a miracle. In our group of 5 I was pretty sure that I would finish 5th and I was trying REALLY hard to be okay with that!
With 4000 of my closest friends, the husband and I tucked in with all of the others and made our way to the start. A quick kiss and off we went!
The course was PACKED and there were an obscene amount of walkers...kudos to everyone that got out and got some exercise that morning, but seriously. START IN THE WAY BACK. Instincts kicked in and I busted out of there as best I could without blowing up. I wanted to run the first mile in 12:00. Um, not so much. 3/4 of the way through the first mile and I was still passing walkers. A LOT of walkers. Way too much dodging and curb jumping than I had planned.
Mile 1 - 10:46
I was either going to explode and crawl to the finish or I was going to hang on. Every step of that second mile was focused on breathing and form. I was standing tall, I wasn't listening to people blabbing around me, I wasn't looking for my peeps. I just ran. Don't think, just run.
The course is ultimately no net gain/loss. Tiny false flats, the smallest of gradual downhills though I remember at one point before the 2nd mile marker to let gravity, no matter how small, do its job.
Mile 2 -10:40 (21:26 on the clock)
The quickest of assessments...I felt great, better than great actually. I told myself that I needed to finish this thing in 12 minutes. And if it doesn't hurt, go faster.
I had no idea where my friends were, though the thought of beating all of them made me smile for a minute. The last mile I really remained focused on my turnover and my form. I was super conscious of my body. Everything felt like it was in it's place. I wasn't collapsing over, I wasn't compensating for a weak right hip. I was running tall and SMOOTH. This was going so much better than I could have imagined!
The last half mile or so is a straight shot to the finish line and I ticked off the traffic lights one by one until the flags were in view. Rather than kick so hard that I wanted to throw up I quickened my pace and started to smile. A BIG smile. I really wish there was a picture of what I'm sure was the cheesiest grin. All I could think of was giving birth to my beautiful little girl less than 4 months ago and feeling this good running a 5k. I thanked my body for my 2 babies and for being strong enough to do what I was doing in that moment. Running strong.
For the first time since some time in 2010 when I managed to out leap a bunch of 20 somethings and consistently hit a triple pirouette in a dance class I was thankful for my body. So incredibly thankful.
And the tears were tears of joy. And pride. Very rarely am I proud of myself. I am proud of my husband and how he handles the stress of his new job and our crazy hectic life. I am proud when my son learns a new word or exudes confidence with his peers. I am proud when my littlest v-sits her way to a sitting position in my lap. But in that moment I was proud of myself and that is a moment I will hold on to for as long as I can.
Mile 3.1 - 10:57
Finish time - 32:23