This past winter, Derek and I focused on racking up the mileage for our half marathon training. We committed to an intermediate plan and diligently increased our long-distance runs, tagging along with our marathoner-in-training, Ed Frutig, along the Maple Heart Trail. The one aspect of our training that was missing was racing. We hadn’t raced a 5K or 10K in months, so when we decided to sign up for the Sarah Strong 5K, we knew it would be a good test of our progress. Sarah Strong has also been one of the races we have cherished since it first began three years ago in memory of Sarah Crane’s battle with cancer. This year would be special to us because we were running it with many of our friends in the Two Rivers Running Club.
In the week leading up to the race, we practiced running the course around downtown Elkhart getting comfortable with the turns and elevation changes. I believe a race preview really helps me to visualize my goal so that on race day, it feels like a home court advantage.
Race day, I made a bold move and toed the line in the front row on the far left beside Derek to avoid having to weave around various runners at the start. I was pure adrenaline in the beginning and pushed to stay with the runners around me. At mile 1, I was shocked by a 7:20 minute mile marker and eased off the pace. I have never run that fast in a 5k before. As the race progressed, I held an 8:04 at mile 2 and seemed to be running solo as I passed the water station volunteers. In the home stretch down main street, I focused on keeping up with runners in front of me as I picked my way closer to the finish.
Just as we made the last turn after 3 miles, I saw Derek out of the corner of my eye shout “You’re the second overall female, but there’s someone coming behind you!” I made a quick turn of my head as she went for her pass just steps before the finish line. Where did she come from? I had never seen her the entire race. We dueled back and forth to the finish and she pulled out in front of me as we crossed the line!
This race has completely changed my mind set about my racing potential. I crushed my personal record and got 3rd overall female in a 5K race with a time of 24:57 minutes. In the weeks following, I ran my second half marathon at the Gazelle Girl Half in Grand Rapids and have started training with Coach Jake Gillette for leg speed. Year two of running is all about goal setting and challenging myself to be the best I can be. As Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Time to step up!