Saturday, April 9, 2011

RIP former personal record!

Goodbye 25:xx+ finishing times.

Goodbye 8:xx+ paces.

RIP my former personal record in the 5K!

Today I ran the Foxtrot 5K to raise money for Parkinson's research and had an awesome race. To be honest, I expected for it to be awful. In January, I started a new exercise regimen with very little running, and since then I've done almost nothing to prepare for flat, fast, road running. And when I ran this course last September, it was with a hugely disappointing time of 27:54, which is just about a personal worst. Awful, this was not, though. Apparently the exercise routine is perfect for me, seeing as it has resulted in a huge improvement in my finishing time: 24:26 (for a pace of 7:51 per mile), which is 50 seconds better than my last official PR!

Since I haven't been running consistently, I had no expectations coming into this race. I didn't even know it was happening until 2 weeks ago. There was one person who had run it last year who I wanted to beat if she ran it again, but that was my only goal.

When the race began, I started at a pretty fast pace. I had been listening to Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" (yes, I freely admit it - it's like an anthem for runners - especially in NJ!) and played it over in my head to stay pumped up. I waved and gave a thumbs up to volunteers and people watching from their houses and enjoyed what was turning out to be a very nice day. It was chilly, but the fog that had covered the town that morning was beginning to lift, making for a sunny day.

My first mile was in 7:30 minutes, and at that point, I felt pretty good. I figured that if I could maintain that pace, I could set a new PR. I began to feel tired at the halfway point, and I know I began to slow down there. A few people passed me, but I hung on and kept going. I played a few different songs over in my head and tried to catch my breath without slowing down too much. With about a half mile to go, a girl about my age passed me. I knew that I was probably giving up a placement in an age group category, but I was giving it my all and couldn't summon up any more speed to pass her. When the finish was in sight, I was able to pick up the pace, but I didn't have a sprint in me. My main focus was the clock. I was shocked to see that I was probably going to come in under 24 minutes and 30 seconds.

And that was it. I crossed the finish with unimaginable triumph gasping for air like a smoker climbing stairs. The combination of my fingers being frozen from the cold and shaking from oxygen deprivation made it a little hard for me to remove the tearaway strip with my name and age from my bib, but I managed to get it off and made my way through the chute without incident. I finished only 6 seconds behind the girl who passed me.

As if unexpectedly breaking my personal record by so much wasn't good enough, I was surprised again by winning a free raffle. The prize was a $25 gift certificate to a running store! Could my day get much better? But wait! It could! I was second in my age group - 6 seconds away from being first - and received a medal. I was so pleased because I really felt that I deserved it after running so hard. It was an awesome run, and it benefited an important cause.

The run was in support of the Michael J. Fox Foundation. An elderly library patron who has Parkinson's Disease was there and participated in the 1-mile walk, and you can tell that the fundraiser meant a lot to him. I just wish that more people could have participated. There were so many community volunteers who had worked to promote it and put it on, and I think that there were only 60 or 70 runners who participated. Maybe I can persuade some of my runner friends to come along next year.

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