Where to begin with this race…
I wasn’t sure I was even going to run it. I didn’t make a final decision until I was on the starting line. My calves were really bothering me all week so I hadn’t run since Tuesday and I took Friday and Saturday completely off so I wouldn’t irritate them any more. It’s hard to describe the way they feel- they just are extremely tight and like the nerves are pinched up the back making running (or walking) painful.
I woke up early Sunday morning unsure of what to do. I sat in bed for half an hour with the stim machine to see if that would help. It did. I put on my compression sleeves and ran down to the start of the race about a mile and a half from my apartment. I got there way too early and was standing around getting cold again…. until I realized half an hour before the race started that I forgot my timing chip at home so I had to run back and get it.
By the time I had run back and forth, I had 10 minutes to spare and I had done 4 miles of a “warmup” at a much faster pace than a warmup should be done at. So while my legs were tired from the extra mileage, they were also loosened up and no longer hurt. I decided to run the race at 8:36. The race was scheduled to start at 8:46.
The race was put on by my running store (Charm City Run) and there was a long remembrance ceremony at the starting line. I chatted with a few friends from the store before the speeches began and ended up starting next to Lisa! I love races where I know so many people- it keeps me out of my own head.
The gun went off and the adrenaline kicked in. My calves felt fine after doing such a long warmup so I focused on sticking with the other girls at the front of the pack. I had no idea how fast we were going since I didn’t have my garmin (it’s broken…) which means it could have been a really stupid move on my part if we were running faster than I was capable. I felt really good the entire first mile and it honestly felt somewhat conservative. I was worried I was making the wrong decision by pacing with the people around me but it ended up being a smart move.
We crossed mile 1 in 6:36. If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know that I have a bad habit of taking the first mile out way too fast. Last year I would run mile 1 of a 5k in 6:05-6:10 pace and absolutely crash for the 3rd mile, so a 6:36 was exactly where I wanted to be. I felt like I could have kept going at that pace before I realized how hilly the second half of the course was.
I held my own in mile 2 and was slightly behind the top 4 females. It was getting harder but I still felt strong. I saw two of the GMs from my store who were taking pictures and they got a few classic ones of me looking a lot happier than I was. I thought I had slowed down a lot more than I had, but I ran mile 2 in 6:46. At this point I was just telling myself to hold on, and that I run way more than 3 miles most days so running 1 wouldn’t kill me.
Mile 3 was hard. Really hard. I haven’t run hills in a long time and I was struggling for the entire last mile which was straight uphill. It felt like it was never going to end, and part of that was because the official course was measured as 3.16 miles instead of 3.1 which does make a significant difference in a 5k. That means I ran at least 3.2 miles since I’m not good about cutting the corners. I knew that going in, but I didn’t realize how much it would affect me. Lisa passed me just before the finish where she almost PRed (I still say she did because the course was long).
I crossed the finish line in 21:51 as the 6th female overall and 1st in my age group (20-29). While I wasn’t thrilled with my time when I first saw it, I was okay after I put things into perspective. First of all, I still ran a sub-7 minute pace due to the longer course. Second of all, I hadn’t run since Tuesday and I could barely walk the day before. I haven’t been training hills and my body was extremely worn down from several months of consistent workouts. I know that had I not been having calf problems last week, I would have PRed and could have potentially been a contender for top female (20:30 won the race and my road PR is around a 20:45).
After the race I hung out with a lot of my running store friends while we waited for the awards. I will most definitely be running this race again next year. I always forget how much I love 5ks but they are my favorite distance for races. I said the same thing about Charles Street 12 though, so maybe I just like any race my running store puts on. I’m not biased at all…
My legs felt okay after walking probably 6-8 miles after the race showing my aunt around the city and meeting up with friends for brunch downtown but I woke up in a lot of pain again yesterday, so I’m taking it day by day until I can get these knots out of my calves again.
I don’t know where this leaves me now. I’m not considering myself “injured” but I’m also not feeling my best. I’m taking some more time off running this week, I have a massage booked for this week as well as in 3 weeks when my regular massage therapist has another opening, and I’ll be on the spin bike to continue cross training. I’m definitely being a lot more careful than I ever have before. I have been injury free for several months now and I know it’s because I kept my mileage under control, so I’d like to keep it that way.