5 miles? Not so bad.

SPRING!  I know it’s not spring yet, but it’s starting to look like it.  It’s sunny, it got up to 50 degrees, we ran a race, the dogs spent the day outside, and I almost opened some windows.  More progress on that tomorrow, hopefully, since the high is supposed to be 55 (!).  It’s been a very cold winter, and I am SO ready for it to be over.

For the last two and a half weeks, ever since John coaxed/supported/shamed me into registering with him for the 5-mile race, I’ve been dreading today.  I wasn’t at ALL prepared to run 5 miles (high winds, snow and ice on the sidewalks, and being forced to run in the neighborhood streets are my main excuses), so my plan was to run as much as I could, counting on adrenaline to help a little, keep a steady pace, and then if I need to walk, try to walk only for one minute and then jog for at least three minutes before walking again.  So I had a plan.  I also took a peek at last year’s race results and I knew that at least a handful of people took between 70 and 85 minutes to complete the race, so I was fairly confident I wouldn’t be last.  But you never know.  Maybe those people decided never to run 5 miles again so they didn’t bother registering this year.  I told John (who wasn’t feeling all that great about it, either) to look for me around 60-67 minutes.  Closer to 67.

It was a beautiful morning (and it’s been a beautiful day), but pretty breezy, so it was still plenty cold (wind chill in the upper 20s, I think).  We joined the crowd at the starting line and John asked me where I wanted to fit in: front, middle, or back?  Definitely not the front (I’ll get trampled, plus I’ll just be in the way of all those super-serious, super-fast runners), and I was pretty sure I didn’t want to be in the back (why start there?  I’ll get there eventually on my own), but in the middle, there’d be all the psychological pressure of watching all those runners pass me along the way.  I said something to that effect to John as we threaded our way to the back of the first third of the crowd, and he said, “Well, you know what it’s like.”  I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean that I should be used to watching runners pass me.  Pretty sure.  🙂

The course took us through neighborhoods in Ashburn John and I don’t typically see, and there were a few people out cheering us on.  There was a big hill near the end of the first mile, and just after it, a woman shouted from her front porch, “It’s all downhill from here!”  She was mostly right.  There were a couple of times the course doubled back on itself, so I could see that I wasn’t actually last, or even that close to last (definitely in the last third, last fourth, maybe even last fifth – I’ll post numbers when the results are up).  One of the times we doubled back, though, I saw a guy juggling.  While running.  He had 5 (maybe 4, but I think five) red balls in the air at once while he jogged up the hill.  Pretty cool, very weird.

Just after the 3-mile mark, I realized I was doing better than expected, averaging about an 11-minute mile, and I started daydreaming about finishing in under an hour.  I wondered if John would even be looking at the finish line that early.  (Of course he would.  There isn’t much else to look at.)  Any walking I did was for less than a minute and not all that often (4 or 5 times total), and I was still on track at the 4th mile, so I ran the entire 5th mile and managed to pick up the pace at the very end, enough to feel like I was going to throw up as I crossed the finish line.  That’s the way to do it.  🙂  It passed, quickly, and John was there, and my time on the clock was just under 55 minutes.  I don’t remember exactly what, but my official time should be lower since it didn’t start until I crossed the starting line.  My watch said 54:24.  You know that means?  That I can do that without training for it?  It means I can do better.  And it was fun and I liked it and I won’t be afraid to do it again.  Another side effect: my fear of 10Ks disappeared.  I can DO this.

I just checked.  Results have been posted.  My official time (matches my watch exactly, for once) is 54:24.  Out of 280 women, I finished 241st.  John finished 197th out of 316 men with an 8:45 pace.  My pace was 10:53.

I can do better than that.

Anyway, we got home, had breakfast, cleaned up (ourselves, not anything silly like the house), and then John had to stay close to his computer since he’s on call to work today.  I talked to Jess (we’re making lots of plans), and then we filed our taxes.  John wants to buy an external hard drive today (and I need a new Scalzi book) AND I really want sushi for dinner, so we’re heading out soon to do all (at least some) of that.  The big decision for the evening is whether we eat out or bring sushi home (and snuggle in for TV or a movie).  Tough call.