My co-worker Jessica asked if I'd run this race with her awhile ago but in the midst of moving, I just couldn't commit. Well last week I realized I didn't have any set plans (other than house work) for that Saturday so I signed up and told her I'd run it with her. I feel her running is "my fault" anyways. I may have put the bug in her ear that racing is fun. She started running in the fall and did her first race ever in November. She had been plugging away at it (running is hard, yo!) until a major life event interrupted her "running career."
Someone she knew was in need of a kidney transplant. Jessica wasn't a match but her willingness to voluneer started a chain reaction. The next thing she knew, she was giving a kidney to a complete stranger via a transplant chain, all Grey's Anatomy style. Someone was a match for her friend and Jessica was a match for someone else. At the end of a very busy day in February, four people got new kidneys. Craziness! Four healthy people were able to save four peoples' lives. And now Jessica is rocking some serious bling...
Pre-race. Only slightly warm and sweaty. And standing in traffic.
The festivities kicked off with a mascot chase. If you've never watched one of these, you must find one in your area and go. If you have kids, enter them into the chase. It's hysterical. All of the local mascots were there. Some A-list (the Columbus Blue Jackets' Stinger) and some B and C listers (a Subway sandwich....wearing jeans.). My favorites were the Cheryl's Cookies. There were two cookies....though this one looked like a giant piece of toast if you ask me.
Jessica's mom was there also and was doing the 1k fun walk so we joined her for a quick warm up before lining up at the start of the 5k. Jessica was a little nervous since this was only her second race ever and it was large compared to the small race she did back in November. Don't worry, I went into coach mode and passed along some helpful tips.
"Now Jessica, first you stand in the middle of this crowd and mess with your watch like you know what you are doing. Stare at it while it searches for a satellite. Look like a doofus while doing this. People will think you know what you are doing and just might get out of your way once the race starts Or not."
"Next step, don't be a sheep and wear the designated t-shirt. Wear whatever the heck you want. In my case, wear a bright purple shirt in a sea of green race shirts. This is because I'm slightly superstitious and I have NEVER in eight years done a race wearing anything other than a purple TNT jersey."
Sea of green, Lifeline of Ohio t-shirts.
It was a pretty good sized race and I was surprised by the number of people walking. Which I think is completely awesome. Unfortunately this is not so awesome when you are intending to run the race. It took a little while to get around the pack and find an opening but once we did, it was smooth sailing. Jessica was concerned we were starting too fast and that she wouldn't be able to maintain the pace for the entire race so we dialed it back several times in the first mile until she found a comfortable pace.
The humidity wasn't doing either of us any favors and being that I haven't run any distance since early June, I was absolutely fine with walking through the water stops. As we progressed through the course, Jessica was doing amazing. And around mile 1 she got a burst of energy. There was a drum line from a local school on the side of the road and as a self-proclaimed band nerd, Jessica was loving it. I have to admit, I have no rhythm whatsoever but even I could hear the steady beat and it was perfect to run to! Bonus was that the course looped back so we go to pass the drum line twice.
With less than 1/2 a mile to go, I shared a secret with Jessica. If we maintained pace from that point on, I was pretty sure I was going to get a PR. While I have a lot of race experience, I don't like 5Ks so I don't do many. And I've never actually run one. All of the 5Ks I've done in the past have been walking. I think this amused her.
Red faces=going pedal to the medal when it's hot and humid.
With that last tenth of a mile to go, I gave her one last suggestion. I told her that she should try to leave everything out on a race course. Don't have any gas left in the tank when you cross that finish line. You don't ever want to finish a race and think to yourself that you could have done more. At least that's how I try to race. And holy smokes did she listen. She busted out into a sprint. Ummm....ok. I had no choice but to kick it into high gear. That girl has some serious kick! I came across the finish line seeing stars and breathing hard! She outkicked me in the end....by 2 seconds! :) But I did come across with a new PR: 44:04. The Garmin's don't lie when I say we were hauling at the end. We went from a 14:48 pace to a 11:47. Nothing left out on the course for her!
Post-race. Hot and very sweaty.
Of course this got my race juices flowing. There is something so exhillerating about crossing a finish line. It doesn't matter what pace you cross at, it's such a high. Even when you feel like death. Those are the races that seem like a greater accomplishment because you survived and didn't quit. This race got me pondering what time I could get running at my own pace. Jessica's pace isn't far from my own but now I'm curious. Maybe I'll randomly sign up for another local 5k and see what I can do.
Thanks Jessica for kicking my butt into gear. Thank you fore being an inspiration. You are an unlikely runner like myself but you also just ran a race after giving up one of your internal organs. That's pretty awesome if you ask me. :)