I've waited 5 months since my last race, so to say I was eager with anticipation Friday night is an understatement. But now that I have a baby and I'm chronically sleep-deprived, even race-eve adrenaline couldn't keep me from sleeping, and I got as good a night's sleep as I typically get these days (which is usually at least a 5-hour stretch), so I felt pretty good when I got up Saturday morning.
The weather couldn't have been more perfect. It was a bit windy, but temperatures were ideal - in the low- to mid-50s. GREAT running weather! I had my usual breakfast, and kept the boys entertained while Scott was at the gym, and when he came back, I headed out.
The drive to the race was only about 25 minutes, but I took that time to blast some of my running songs in the car, and I was getting sooooooo excited to get to the starting line and GO!
Had to park quite a ways from the race start - the race was held in a large state park - but I had plenty of time, so I made my way in, registered, went back to the car to drop off my stuff, and then headed back to the start, where I made a quick stop at the porta-potties, then made my way to the starting area.
I ran into a few folks from the running club (who I haven't run with in about two years!) and chatted with them for a minute before the start. I really hope to start getting out for a few group runs this summer, if our schedule allows. It's tough right now, because I basically have to dash out the door as soon as Carmine is done eating, and his feeding times are still a bit unpredictable. But I think this summer, as he is on a little more of a regular schedule, I should be able to fit in a group run once or twice a month. I hope so, anyway - it's a great club, and I'd love to be able to be more active in it.
It was a little chilly just standing at the starting line, but once we got going, it felt great. The course started at the bottom of a very, very small hill, and that was the only hill on the entire course - the rest of it was flat as a pancake, which was glorious!
As we got to the top of that small hill, and I saw all the runners spread out across the road ahead of me, I got such a rush of endorphins, and realized just how much I've missed racing. It felt so incredible to be part of it again.
I had lined up toward the middle of the pack. I didn't think I needed to be way at the back, and it proved to be a good decision. The race had a decent turnout, but wasn't so crowded that there was any real jostling for position, and I just cruised along at a little under a 9:00 pace for the first mile - finished it up in 8:48, and was feeling fabulous.
I didn't want to overdo it for this race, since it was my first race back, and I have a lot of races ahead of me this summer, so I don't want to push myself too early, but I did allow myself to pick up the pace a little bit during the second mile. And for the second half of mile 2, I actually got down to a 7:30 pace, and maintained it for nearly half a mile! It felt amazing to run that fast, even if only for a short while.
I knew I couldn't hold that pace for too long, though, and I wanted to finish the race with a smile, not a grimace, so I reeled myself in and ended up with an 8:26 pace for mile 2. Ditto for mile 3, which is also where I was able to pass a few people, which, I have to admit, felt pretty good.
As I neared the end of mile 3, I started to push a little harder, and when I hit the mile 3 marker, all bets were off, which is why I ran the final .1 at a 6:54 pace : )
I had been dreaming about a sub-28 finish for this race, so was very, very pleased to see 26:50 on the clock. A year ago if it had taken me almost 27 minutes to run a 5K, I would have been sorely disappointed, but now, at 11 weeks postpartum, I'm immensely proud of that time!
I felt a little tired when I finished, but pretty good overall. I think I probably could have run a little faster, but I'm actually glad I held back a little. I still need to play it safe for a while - I've only been back at this for 6 weeks now, and an injury is the last thing I need.
I talked a bit with the running club folks and grabbed something to eat, but didn't linger long, since I had to get back to my three little guys.
I drove off with a smile on my face, though, and the whole way home, I was daydreaming about all the other finish lines I'm going to cross during this race season. It's SO awesome to be back!
26:50; 8:39 pace
11 of 51 in my age group
136 of 336 overall