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Spontaneous Race Day

April 18, 2010

This morning I ran a race.
Oh, you didn’t see that coming, did you?  Let’s back up a little bit.

Friday afternoon, around four o’clock,  my co-worker walked past my desk and asked a simple question he has asked many times in the past.

“Any races this weekend, Heather?”

My first race was scheduled for March.  For the weekend of Fitbloggin.  Sunday afternoon I was planning on running a race outside of Baltimore before making the six hour drive home to my apartment. But then it turned out I wasn’t going to Fitbloggin anymore.  So I wasn’t going to be running that race.

“Nope.  No races until May.” I replied.

The conversation was over, but not before the sudden desire came over me.  I was supposed to run twice during the week according to my half training plan, but because of some changes in my schedule, I hadn’t run since my impromptu 6.2 training miles last Sunday.  I needed a race and I needed one quickly.  So I logged on to and got my search on.

Before I could even think about the long term effects of this  new relationship race, I was committed.  I had signed up for the Saints Red Cross 5K, a race put on by one of the over 20 schools in the area, Siena College. 

Of course, I didn’t check out the weather plan for the weekend until after I decided to run.  When I did finally type in my zip code on, it told me to expect snow flurries, wind, and therefore, chilly temperatures.  What did I get myself into?

Saturday night, I laid out my gear.  But it wasn’t just any gear, it was “I may be running in snow” gear. I decided to layer up.  Sports Bra, tank top, long-sleeved moisture wicking shirt, tshift, two pairs of socks, shorts, pants, and a baseball cap.  Then I packed a bag with my trusty, super warm “old man” sweat pants, my Lodi soccer hoodie (also trusty), ang extra socks to change into post race incase of soaking rain along with a few other things I might need (my camera, my ipod in a ziplock bag a la Caitlin, the directions to the race site, a banana and a Clif bar. 

Then I went to bed.
I tossed.  I turned. I got up. I laid back down. 
I read an entire chapter. I drifted to sleep for about 20 minutes.
Then more tossing. More turning.  I got up. I laid back down.
I watched an episode of Weeds on DVD. I drifted to sleep for about an hour. Then I had a serious heart-to-heart with myself. “GO TO SLUMBER.”

The last time I remember looking at the clock was 2:30 AM, although I woke up a few times before my alarm went off at 5:30 AM.

Oddly, I wasn’t too tired.  I did a quick 10 minutes of yoga in my living room, consisting mostly of a constant flow combination of rag doll, runners lunges, upward dog, plank, and downward dog. I just wanted my very tired body to feel a bit of a stretch before the start of the race.

I ate breakfast. I drank water. I triple checked to make sure my playlists had made it to my Ipod. This was my first race running with an Ipod, and I was muy excitedo. So excited in fact that I had chosen so many songs that when I was done selecting, I had over 2 hours of music on my playlist.  I was hoping to run a little bit faster than a 39 minute mile, so I decided instead to make two playlists –

A prerace mix:
prerace mix

Along with a Red Cross 5K mix:
race mix 

Then I was on my way.

The race was held at a park, The Crossings of Colonie. I had never been to The Crossings before, but I have noticed through searching for racing opportunities that a lot of the races in the area take place here, so I will most likely be running a few more races at this park in 2010. 




I signed in at the registration tables, received my number and IPICO Sports chip .  This was my first race with a time chip, so of course, I had to document it with some photographs.
104_2861 104_2862

The race went as well as one could expect after getting such little sleep.  I know I could have pushed myself harder, and I had a bit of a battle with my mind all throughout.  I walked a lot. I had told myself I wasn’t going to be upset with how I did as long as I crossed the finish line, which I did.

I didn’t PR, but I didn’t anti-PR, either.  I ran the 3rd fastest 5K I’ve run so far, coming in with an official chip time of 35:46. 

I didn’t wear a watch, or even attempt to pace myself during the race, which I know hurt my performance.  I walked when I wanted to walk, and I made sure to use all hills to my advantage. 

There was a point in the course where I could see the last stretch of the course, hear the announcer and watch people sprinting past the the finish line in the opposite direction – but I still had a bit of a run ahead of me.  Having never run this course before, I couldn’t exactly tell how much I had left to go, and it seemed to be quite a ways.  When I heard the announcer say that someone had just crossed the line at 25:30, I thought for sure I had at least a mile and a half to go and that I was in no way going to PR, or even come close.  Instead of pushing myself harder, I started to lose the mental battle.  I started to walk MORE.  I didn’t give up completely, but I definitely didn’t push myself as much as I usually do towards the end of a race. 

When I crossed the line under two minutes from my PR, and only 15 seconds away from my 2nd fastest 5K, I felt a bitter taste in my mouth.  I was upset that i had given up so easily.  I had walked a lot of that last stretch, not because I was in pain, or out of energy, but because I had allowed my mind to defeat me.  My motivation and my drive had fallen to the wayside, when I could have very easily run the last stretch with everything I had and probably came close to my PR, if not beat it.  I was a sad runner.

Then I grabbed a water, a banana and my blackberry.  I opened my twitter application and this is what I saw:
twitter onetwitter two  

I made a few decisions after the race.

I will not be upset. I crossed the finish line.  I wasn’t prepared for the race at all, and I shouldn’t have expected to PR when I didn’t the best decisions the week, day, and night before the race. 

Next time, I’m running with my blackberry in my pocket.
my tweet

In 2010 the following will happen:

I will have a new 5K PR. I will. end of story.

I will try new distances. I already have a few races chosen for this year – a few more 5Ks, but also the half marathon on 10-10-10, and a 4 miler on the 4th of July.  I’m going to try and find some other mid-distance races as well.

I will work hard at conquering my biggest running struggles; pace & breathing.

I will run with someone I love. Seeing the groups of people together on the course, pushing one another along, high-fiving, and just being there made me instantly jealous of my not having a running buddy to enjoy the race with.  But even more so, seeing the groups of people together after the race, stretching, chatting, laughing, gave me such a longing to have someone there with me.

  104_2864  104_2866


I will have someone at the finish line to cheer me on, celebrate with me and take my photo. I’m already stoked that my family is coming to visit this summer, but the fact that they are going to be in town when I am running the Firecracker 4 has me especially excited.  I’m trusting my mother will be much more reliable with taking post-race photos. Thank you nice woman who took this photo with my camera for me today.  ahem.



Do you have any race goals for this year?

14 Comments leave one →
  1. April 18, 2010 8:46 pm

    ❤ ❤ ❤ you!!! That is about my 5k time as well! I can't see you in the pic 😦

    I will DOMINATE the hills!

  2. April 18, 2010 8:58 pm

    lol @ the picture after the race. It is very artsy 🙂

    and, I guess not planning to run a race has its positives/negatives. It is good because you can’t psych yourself out weeks/days before, but it is bad because you don’t feel as prepared when the day comes. Either way, you did a great job and you should be proud.

  3. April 18, 2010 10:36 pm

    I love this, spontaneous race is such a good thing, good on you for getting out there and doing it!

    My goals this year are to finish the c25k program, and I have signed up for a 4k in August. I would like to find another race or two to do this year, but we don’t have many in Perth so I might just race myself 🙂 I also want to improve my form and pace (ie get faster than snails pace!)

  4. April 18, 2010 11:57 pm

    YAY for getting out there and completing the race 🙂
    I may have infact repeated Alex’s twitter to myself today while running. I think she should make tshirts 😉

  5. April 19, 2010 12:54 am

    You got out there and ran, that’s all that matters. You woke up and let your body move and dance in the cold morning. You did something that few people did this morning (the blog world is a poor example of how many people actually chose not to run on a daily basis). So basically, you rock, you went running, and you have another race under your belt – awesome!
    If you ever run a race out in my neck of the woods I will be there to cheer you on! I’d offer to run with you but well… I’m in the beginning stages of C25K… so it might be best of you run at your pace and I cheer for you 😀
    You can walk into work tomorrow and say “oh yeah, I ran a race this weekend.” Booyah.

  6. April 19, 2010 3:23 am

    I’ve never ran a 5k. I actually want to and am working for it!
    Good job on the run, you did great 🙂

  7. April 19, 2010 5:45 am

    Congrats, girl!! 🙂 You are awesome!

  8. April 19, 2010 7:56 am

    Congrats. I think you did great – I was there too and alone. We could have taken each other’s pics.
    Maybe I’ll see you at another race. If you want a running partner, I’m game –

  9. April 19, 2010 9:07 am

    Yay Heather! Good for you sister 😉
    Love sister christian by the way lol

  10. April 19, 2010 6:00 pm

    Congrats on the run! What matters is just getting out there and doing it. Great job!

    I’m also planning on running the Firecracker 4. Let’s run it together! And we need to go for a run together soon.

  11. abbynormally permalink
    April 19, 2010 6:09 pm

    You rock! I want to be spontaneous with my races. I almost ran a 30k the other week…but I didnt. Boo! We need to run some races together!!! Did you find a PIttsburgh race this summer?! pleeeeeeeease!
    My first race I had no one waiting for me at the finish line.. and it was a half. So it was kind of a letdown. I want to come cheer you on!

  12. April 19, 2010 9:12 pm

    Ok, that picture seriously had me laughing out loud. Poor Heather, some people just don’t have the basic life skill of snapping a good picture.

    I am SO proud of you. Some runs suck. Some races suck. I had a similar experience my second race in Austin. I had NO idea what the course was like and I was alone, letting my mind win the battle. No more. The good thing is, you never make the same mistake twice. I think it’s great you are being so proactive. You’ll be MORE than ready for your half. And I second Abby, any Pittsburgh races this summer? (Like before August pleaseandthankyou)


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