On June 26th at 11 p.m., I thought to myself, “Eh, what the hell. I might as well run a race tomorrow.”
This is a pretty radical thought for someone who plans so much it’s practically a reflex. I am many things, but spontaneous is not one of them. I’m working on it, okay?
I’d run the Luke Parlatore race before, in 2010 and 2011 – it was a 5k, and then a 3-miler. The last time I ran it, I had just finished my senior year of high school.
But since the race was local and I was familiar with the course, I wasn’t (too) nervous about a run down memory lane.
I walked to the course, donated to the scholarship fund and snagged a shirt, and then jogged back home to find a ballpoint pen to scribble my name on my bib and find a way to pin the bib on my tee without stabbing myself (the way turned out to be asking my mom for help. Thanks for the important stuff, Mom.)
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I jogged back to the start and waited. And waited. I was getting nervous at that point! I haven’t raced in more than a year, since the Marco Island Half-Marathon, and I hadn’t even been steadily running. I told myself to mentally prepare for a slower time since I hadn’t been training, but I hoped I could run faster than 34:04, which is what I ran the very first time I ran this race – the very first time I ran a 5k, much less raced it! I thought I could do it as long as I was careful not to go out too quickly.
I had hastily put together a playlist at midnight, so I told myself to match the music as I ran. It was still really tempting to go out at 8:00/mile race – since the pool of runners was so small, the “back of the pack” where I normally lined up was still pretty darn close to the front. Close enough that I was itching to go faster.
But I didn’t, and the feet grew and grew between me and the race leaders. This race was incredibly tough mentally because as I ran a 10:50 to 11:20/mile pace, I ended up running alone for the majority of the race. I could see people ahead and behind me, but they were too far to interact with, cheer on, or match pace with. My average pace it was too slow for the speedsters and too fast for the walkers.
It still felt pretty damn good for me, especially with no training.
I paced myself for a 33:30, since I hadn’t trained for it (34-36 minutes for 3 miles is an easy run, so I wanted to push it just a little bit.)
Of course, I’m really competitive with myself, and the weather was cooperating (overcast, slightly windy and slightly drizzly) so I ran a 32:47. It’s a really small local race, so it was mentally tough (there were people 300 yards ahead and behind me for the majority of the race) but my curated playlist really helped.
Here’s what I listened to (in order, so the slow start and the pick-me-ups were timed):
Steal My Girl – One Direction
Gives You Hell – The All-American Rejects
All The Small Things – Blink-182
She Looks So Perfect – 5 Seconds of Summer
Bailando – Enrique Iglesias
Live Like A Warrior – Matisyahu
Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
Shut Up And Dance – Walk The Moon
More Than A Feeling – Hit The Lights (from Punk Goes Classic Rock)
I ended the race sprinting, as I always do (okay, the exception might be the Marco Island Half-Marathon. It felt like I was crawling for that one…but more on that some other time.) My Garmin Forerunner 110 (still working! still awesome!) clocked me in at 32:47 and 3.05 miles. I don’t have the clock time yet, but I’ll add it later.
After scarfing down half a bagel and half of a banana, I found a friendly Golden Retriever to pet. Food + animals makes me a happy camper.
Running this race made me realize how much I’ve changed, mentally and physically, in the last four years. I’m a stronger person – three miles is an easy run now instead of a never-attempted distance – and I’ve run three half-marathons. I live healthier with food, fitness, and mental health (or at least, I try) the great majority of the time.
Before, I was afraid to test my limits with a challenge. Now I can’t seem to stop challenging myself – and I’m so excited for everything to come.