This morning, I ran my first official race all the way through.
The Anthem 5K has grown to be one of the biggest races in Louisville. This year, 8,496 runners completed the race. It seemed like twice that number. This was the first leg of the Louisville Triple Crown of Running, all leading up to the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon/miniMarathon.
I’m not a fast runner. I don’t really care all that much about times (for now), but I do have a competitive streak. My running group shoots for a 12 min/mile goal every weekend, and sometimes it seems like it takes extra effort just to reach that. My weekday runs on my own have been short, and I’ve been concentrating on evening out my pace and picking up some speed. For the past week, I’ve thought about just running this 5K as fast as I could. I gave myself a 30:00 minute goal.
So on a cold Saturday morning (the coldest time during a week of 70-degree temps), my buddy Brad came over and we headed down to Louisville Waterfront Park to join the throngs of other people on a 3.1 mile trek. Brad and I picked up our race packets early, and it’s a good thing because parking was kind of a mess.
To get the crowd pumped up, the organizers blasted Party Rock Anthem (or that I’m Sexy song – they sound the same to me). I’m not sure what I was expecting, but looking around, we saw all kinds of people – determined athletes, those housewives I avoid at the gym and some people who looked like maybe they hadn’t run in a decade or so. I was worried for them.
When the horn sounded the official start of the race, Brad and I stayed in the same spot. It took us forever to shuffle to the actual (and official) start line, but once we got there, it was on.
The course made its way down River Road, and I felt awesome. I was flying, weaving in and out of walkers (who were supposed to be behind us) and other people who pooped out at less than half a mile. The foot traffic was almost ridiculous. I kept thinking that we should have been closer to the starting line. Still, I felt like a stud flying by all those geriatrics and children. Yeah, Grandma. Eat it.
Between Mile 1 and Mile 2, there was a hill to climb. Keep in mind, this was the only hill in the entire race. People began dropping like flies. Some sorority girl looked like she was about to vomit. Another woman was standing on the side of the hill. And more than half the racers were now walking. Somehow, I was still cruising. I actually took advantage of the fact that everyone had slowed down to power up the hill. I told Brad later that I probably passed 100 people on that hill. Talk about an ego boost.
A little past Mile 2, I finally found my pace group. I could see the finish line straight down Market Street, and there was just one mental challenge left. This guy, a little bigger than me, had been running right in front of me for about a mile. We were still running at the same pace, but there was no way I was going to let him beat me. I kicked in the afterburners and sped past him. I half expected him to speed up so we could battle to the end, but I guess he was more disciplined and less juvenile than I am.
About 100 yards out, I could see the clock time at the finish line. It read 34:30. I couldn’t figure it out. There’s no way that time could be correct. How was I that far off pace when I was running harder than usual? Then it clicked. The clock time starts when the race starts. Your official time is based on the chip inside your bib. I couldn’t remember what the clock read when we crossed the starting line. Wasn’t it like six minutes? That seemed about right. I figured out that I had about a minute to get across that line to finish under 30:00. I’m pretty sure I looked like a clydesdale sprinting my way across the line, but I got there in one piece.
Turns out I finished in 29:30.
So the first race is out of the way. I’m going to run the Rodes City Run in a few weeks, and maybe the Papa John’s 10 Miler a few weeks after that. If I get those under my belt, I’ll have three good races down before the mini.