Well, it’s about damn time I have a blog post that was not a product review. I wish I could say there has been nothing new, but it’s just not the case. Well, yes and no, actually. Up until about a week ago, I could have said that it really was just business as usual. I have settled back into that run schedule I love so much, with my 2 shorter runs during the week and then my steadily increasing long run on the weekends.
Up until a week ago, that was the truth, and then shit just started happening. Out of nowhere, on a random Wednesday, I head to the gym for a regular old workout and end up setting a new PR for the 5K, something I have been chasing for 6 months now. I was excited but also a little disappointed because I was pretty sure that I had just screwed myself because I have been saying from jumpstreet that my goal for the upcoming Phillies 5K was to set myself a new 5K PR under race conditions. I had effectively just made it harder for myself. The last thing I needed was for the week before the race to make my stated stretch goal more challenging…but I was feeling so good that night on the treadmill I had to go for it. It was a badass move and I was proud of myself, even though it may have meant sacrificing success later for it. What I did not anticipate however was me going out and beating my 5K PR by over a full minute on race day.
So, here is my (albeit late) Phillies 5K race recap. This is the first race that I have repeated year over year. It has significance to me because this was the first 5K that I was ever able to run the entire 3.1 miles for, and now a year later I was shooting for an equally challenging goal of running it faster than I have ever run a race of this distance before.
So last year I ran with my awesome cousin Chris, and we went down and kept a relatively low profile. Nobody knew me and I just kept to myself. Chris and I ran side by side for the whole race and he supported me as I ran so slow I may as well had been walking at points. This year, I made a conscious effort not to plan in advance to run with anybody, since I knew I planning on pushing myself. But if you know me, you know that most of my plans have a tendency to get blown the shit, and this was no exception. Where last year I didn’t know anybody, this year I felt like the frickin’ mayor. Before the race, I was contacted and then coordinated to meet up with: my co- workers Lindsey and Nancy, my good friends Shawna and Steve, my buddy Paul, my running girlfriend and Running My Ass Off frequent visitor Rock and her stepdad Bob, an online runner friend Linda who was there with her daughter, and then the real final nail in the coffin of my plans of solitude, my sister in law Tracey texted me about a week out from the race and asked If I was running it, because she was signed up and flying solo since my brother Jon (her husband) was scheduled to be away for the weekend. So of course I told her I will meet up with her and run with her. Hey, family is family, and we stick together. Plus, (selfishly) I knew Trace has always been another one of those girls that has always been super fit and a runner, so I figured that if I could keep up with her I’d have a shot at my PR. So I got down there early and met up with everybody beforehand. And let me tell you, it was freaking COLD before the race. Temps in the 30’s with a nice wind blowing.
I have said before that this Phillies Charities 5K is run in and around the sports complex in Philadelphia, beginning and ending right outside Citizen’s Bank Park, the home of the Philadelphia Phillies. The way that the sports complex is set up in Philly (for those unaware) is that all the stadiums that house the major sports teams for the city (Baseball, Football, Hockey & Basketball) are all situated together in a wide open area of South Philadelphia. What that really translates to is 3 major stadiums all within a square mile, and then what can easily be described as parking lots as far as you can see. Looking through a runner’s eyes that equates to a whole lot of flat fast, paved running surface. Very PR friendly. Hence my pushing to take advantage of the opportunity and go after a race obtained personal record.
Once I got past the cold, I was ready to go. Woke up that morning feeling good. Definitely ready to go. I knew the task I had set was aggressive, so I had nerves, but since I was also feeling like the “seasoned runner” out of the group I was meeting, I had a level of comfort that I usually don’t get to experience. All in all, got down there early, got to meet up with everyone, and then when we were about 15 min away from the scheduled start time, we all filtered into the starting corrals, with the idea that we will meet up after everybody runs their own race. I went towards the front with my sister Tracey, and we got ready to roll. I mentioned before that she was fast, so I just dialed in and focused on keeping pace and keeping up with her. We basically ran side by side the entire way, which was pretty fantastic for me. (after the race, I made a comment about just trying to keep up with her, and then she said she was doing the same thing, just trying to keep up with me. “you mean to tell me I could have slowed down at any time?” was the first thing that popped into my head) All in all, I pushed hard and beat my PR by a substantial amount. I honestly went into this thinking that if I beat it by a few seconds I still beat it, and would walked away feeling great about myself. Instead, I blow it out of the water by over a full minute. I am quite frankly amazed. Coming close to a 25 min 5K never even entered my mind. Previous PR (time to beat) was 26:34, my official time was 25:11. Un. Freaking. Believable. So now I have 4 thoughts: 1) Proud of myself does not even cover what I feel right now. I feel like I skipped a few steps in my training and shows me that I am still capable of surprising myself with what I can accomplish 2) 11 seconds! I can’t believe that I only missed breaking 25 min by 11 seconds. I feel like if I pushed a little harder I could have trimmed that time off, or came damn close to it 3) Now how in the hell am I going to beat that time? It’s going to take excellent conditions again for me to take a shot at, although I can’t wait to try. 4) I feel like I am getting lighter/stronger/faster and overall better conditioned. This is the first time in a while (since my weight has leveled off, really) that I feel like I have been making some substantial progress in my fitness level. Looking forward to keeping it up and completely rocking Broad Street.
The race itself was good, and like I said, the entire 3.1 miles wrapped around the parking lots and roads around the Phillies and Eagles Stadiums. Once I got moving I heated up quick and the cold became non-existent. Just moving fast and keeping going. There were a few points where I definitely wanted to slow down, but the thought that honestly went through my head was “almost done, you can rest when you finish”. Not going to lie, kind of sucked to keep pushing like that but I am really glad I did it. The one “thumbs down” to the course as they had it laid out is that the final stretch consisted of a round trip through the Phillies parking lots, with a deceptively long (I would guess ¼ mile-ish) last straightaway with a final turn literally immediately before the finish line. So A) I kicked too early and found myself struggling to keep it up at the very end, and B) it was just weird to slow down and make a 90 degree left turn just to cross the finish line. (That could have been 1 or 2 of those damn 11 seconds!)
Overall, the race was great, I was that guy who stood right in the middle of the lane, and waited for my friends to finish. I got to see everybody come through, including more friends that I didn’t even know were going to be there. Fantastic stuff and so many friendly faces. Lots of smiles, hugs, and and high fives (hugs only from my friends) This one was a lot of fun and I see myself making this race an annual thing for many years to come. Adding to the awesomeness of the day was watching some my friends break through some personal barriers and tackle either their first 5K or knocking out some amazing times. Lindsey and Shawna both tackled their first 5K, And both Nancy and Rock set PRs of their own. Rock deserves a special mention, because she broke through a huge personal milestone that I know she has been going for, she broke through the 30 min barrier and ran her first Sub-30 5K! It was a great day and you can bet your ass ill be there again next year. Maybe I’ll just embrace the social aspect of it and make a group trip out if it. (Or maybe ill try to break another PR again next year…we’ll see in 2014)
Ok, I’ll post again later this week, until then: Take it easy.
Me Coming in on the finish line, rocking the tights…
Me and my friend Shawna, getting ready to take on her first official 5K!
Me and My awesome sister Tracey before the race
In the starting corral, getting ready to run
My friends Nancy and Lindsey after the run
Rock and Her Stepdad Bob
Me with my head down and just starting off. I feel like I look like a giant next to all the short people around me. (This pic was taken by the PHL 17 tv station in Philadelphia)