The race was on and the pack moved as a unit up the road to the first turn on the course. The road had been closed to any traffic so the runners found their own space to trot though the start line. I had anticipated a 5 minute delay before I would reach the start line. When I started doing 5k's race organizers did not implement the racers time line-up process. This is when you line up according to your average minutes per mile, for example if you run a 6 min mile then you would line up near the front of the pack. If your average time is 15 minutes per mile then you would line up in the back. Before this was created you would have a stampede affect. The faster runners stuck in the back of the group, would push their way to the front. Many time this caused accidents and a lot of frustration for the racers. Some people are competing against the field and others are just competing against themselves. This race was very organized and it only took about 30 seconds to cross the start line.
Everyone is trying to find their pace. For me I am finding my running partner and my running motivator. I looked for someone who seemed to be equal to me. I looked for someone to keep pace with. Once I found that person I set my sights on someone to pass. Someone ahead of me to keep as a goal, keep running reel them in, keep going. I set my radar on a couple to pace with. They seemed to have a nice slow pace. It was a man and women whom I assume were married, late 30's and very tall. They were relaxed and steady, this seemed to be right on target. The first mile is a warm up of sorts. My legs felt heavy and my body was already searching for air. How can I be out of breath in the first 4 minutes of the race. I immediately thought the temperature change from the air conditioned gym to the 75 degree breezy day may take a toll on me I had not expected. I continued to keep my focus on the tall couple with the relaxed stride, but it became very clear I would not be able to keep pace with them. I had learned from the past you can use all you have to early and since it had been a very long time since I had run anything I made the decision not to push. I dropped to a fast walk to recover and catch my breath.
We rounded the next turn and I had a very clear view of the next mile of the race course. This gave me a great opportunity to set some goals. The tall couple kept a strong slow jog which propelled them way ahead so I needed to reset my pace partner and my targets. I set my sights on a shade tree just before we would make a turn to hit the 1st mile mark, I could make it I was sure. I pick up my feet and began to jog. This time my legs responded with a little more hope. The jog in the very beginning and then the 30 yard speed walk gave me a good warm up and now my body began to remember the treadmill. I hit a rhythm that was difficult but comfortable. My breathing was labored but also in a rhythm, for me this is where I want to be. With a pattern in place I glided to my shade tree goal. I began to speed walk again and regain oxygen.
The shade was a wonderful reward. The temperature felt cooler away from the stadium. Once in the open the breeze was strong. This is a wonderful natural fan, but it can also push against you and slow your time. For me the wind was an amazing gift. I kept moving as quickly as I could, the trees and the wind gave me a burst of energy, the water station was in sight. As I cruised into the water station I grabbed 3 cups of ice cold water, one to drink, one to add to my water bottle that was almost empty and one to dump on my head. As I cleared the water station I came up to a young man (14) who was struggling, breathing hard, and looking worn out. I jogged past and felt he needed support, I told him to keep going he was doing great, just keep going. As I jogged on the question that had haunted me for the past 24 hours started to fade, I started to see what I was doing here.
As I left the water station I saw a man with a stop watch. This was a person to tell you your first mile time. In order for me to stay on pace and meet my goal of completing this race in 45 minutes I had to have a time of 15 minutes or less. My first mile is usually my fastest so if I was off my pace I may not be able to make up the difference in the end. With great anticipation and intrepidation I ask for my time. 13.03 he said with a smile, I couldn't believe it I was ahead of my pace by almost two minutes. I held my fist in the air and said YES! I am not sure he had anyone so excited by a 13 minute mile. In the running community this would be considered very slow. Not for me, I knew I had a cushion, I knew if I could keep this pace I had room to slow if I ran out of steam at the end.
TOMORROW MILE 2