I had the great pleasure today of revisiting the race that was my very first 5k ever last year – this time with my best buddy Laurel, who was running it as HER very first 5k!
I was SO EXCITED to run it with her! We grew up next door to each other and literally spent most of our childhoods running. For fun. (I never said we were normal.) We would pretend we were racehorses and have staged races with my brothers and other friends. (We also ran barefoot, though it was usually on grass and/or the dirt trail we pounded around the perimeter of my parents’ backyard.) We even took pictures and created a little racing newspaper. (I should really scan that someday.. or not)
Once high school hit the childhood running craze was pretty much over until recent years when we both individually eased back into running. I couldn’t wait to run a real road race with her!
We’d been up pretty late the night before the race and the 6am alarm came waaay too fast. I lurched up and slid into my running gear (I only realized later I pulled the same running shirt out of the drawer that I’ve worn at my last 3 races… gonna have to mix it up a bit next time) and started some coffee. Laurel and our friend Maureen, who’d also stayed over to spectate and cheer us on, were ready pretty quickly and we were out the door by around 7:15.
On the way to Greenlake we joked about all the “normal people” we saw out running at such a crazy early hour who weren’t even participating in the race (yes, I know some people like to get up early and run… no, I am not one of them).
I was a bit worried about parking (I cruised around the neighborhoods for about half an hour last year trying to find a spot) and sure enough the streets around Greenlake were jam packed full of cars. We eventually found what wasn’t quite a full parking spot overflowing into a corner, away up on one of the side streets around the lake, and crammed my wee Honda into it. Success!
After entering a few giveaways at the Expo I handed my bag and camera off to Maureen (no bag check this year… weird) and Laurel and I wedged ourselves into the crammed starting chute near the 11-min-mile pace sign. I didn’t really know what pace Laurel was capable of; she’d hoped to train more than she ended up doing and was feeling a little unprepared. I suggested we take a walk break or two if she needed and just to chug along as best she could otherwise.
After a playing of the Star Spangled Banner we were OFF!… at a shuffly walk as the mob of women approached the actual starting line. One guy on the sidelines was holding up a sign that said “I’m so proud of you, random stranger!” Haha. Once we crossed the mats, I hit Henry the Garmin and we broke into a jog.
Mile one was pretty relaxed and slow, I kept chatting to Laurel with running tips that helped me in my first 5k and observations about the road and the folks running around us. (I hope I wasn’t ridiculously annoying with all my talking, heh!) We noticed a few ladies running in Vibrams and reminisced about our barefoot running childhoods, and how at that point of our lives we probably actually could have run the whole course barefoot (and a whole lot faster).
Mile 2 we diverted down off the roads to the actual path around the lake and hit the water stop. I let Laurel know we were coming up on 15 minutes and asked if she wanted to walk, but she was still feeling fine, so we trucked on. The guy with the “random stranger” sign came running up the path against the flow, holding up his sign, and we all cheered at him.
At mile 2 Laurel needed a little break so we dropped to a walk on the gravel path. I encouraged her and let her know we only had a mile left to go. After 2 min of walking we picked it back up into a run and chugged onward. I kept counting down the mileage – half a mile left! a quarter mile left! – and suddenly we were passing the Mile 3 marker and approaching the turn in to the finishing chute. “Let’s sprint for it!” I called, and stuck with Laurel as she gave it what she had left in the tank. I heard the announcer calling our names, and our friend Maureen spotted us coming through the chute and tried to take a photo:
she got us finishing as well – argh, doing that arm thing has almost become second nature to me when I cross finish lines.. I really need to stop that >_>
She called out to us right after we got de-chipped and medaled and we spotted her on the sidelines:
Afterward we picked up the free breakfast and various sports drinks and plopped down in the grass with Maureen to cool off and nom down the food. Maureen said she had a fun time spectating and would tear up a bit when the announcer recounted the stories of the people finishing in front of us.
Laurel ended up finishing in 36:02 for what Henry the Garmin counted as 3.19 miles – not bad at all for an undertrained first timer, and better than my bro did at his first 5k! ;)
Unfortunately my wacky photographer-avoiding abilities reared their heads again and we somehow managed to dodge every photog on the course, except at the finish line…
Oh well… hopefully I can get Laurel to sign up for another one! She was already talking about possibly doing a half-marathon next year, which would be awesome!