Given that we all survived another Sharknado, I just had to run this virtual race!
I wanted to challenge myself, and do something a little longer than the 5K races I’ve been doing lately. Five miles is about 8km, and is a small stepping stone to the half-marathon distance (a little over 21km) that I’ll be doing in November.
Frankly, I’d been dreading this run for a few days. It’s summer. This was the longest distance I’d done in almost three months. And lastly, I was doing it on my own — no race support, other runners, etc. All that weighed heavy on me as I thought through my route planning for this morning.
I landed on a good, extensible course, which was the path up Clayton Road. That’s been my favorite 5K route, despite the recent runs on the Wren Trail course. I’ve favored Wren lately because of traffic. I love having music in my ears when I’m on course, and Clayton Road just has too much traffic on it to do that, unless you get out early in the morning.
I ate my regular raceday breakfast — toasted english muffin, with peanut butter and honey, paired with a tall glass of water — stretched and headed out around 6am, just after sunrise. And right from the start, this run felt different.
The weather was amazing, especially given the heat we’ve had over the last couple of weeks. I think that was really fortunate for me, as I’ve proven many times this summer that I don’t do well in the heat.
I marched down Clayton, and things were coming easy. Way easy. I got to my turnaround point for a 5K, and did a little bit of a gut-check. Did I have it in me to go beyond this point, and complete these five miles? I felt good, so I plowed on.
When I planned my route a few days ago, I was surprised to see how far up the road my turnaround point was gonna be. Somehow, my brain had that location figured to be a whole lot farther away from the house than I’d just seen on the map. I just knew that couldn’t be right, and I knew I’d be watching my Garmin to make sure I knew my “real” turnaround.
I got closer to my planned turnaround point, and began to climb the last hill on the eastbound side of my route, and I was struck by just how far I’d come… both in my personal journey, as well as this run. I would never have believed I could’ve travelled on foot so far.
I turned around — and my race planning was correct! — climbed that hill again (from the other side), and got into a great groove going down the long grade as I continued westward. In what seemed like no time, I passed my 5K turnaround point, knowing I had just over 2km to go. And right about then, I got a gift.
A business was watering their lawn.
I didn’t dance in the sprinklers, but I did take it in, and let it rain down on me. Even though it wasn’t especially hot this morning, that unexpected shower felt wonderful, and was the best part of the route this morning. I was energized by this, and continued to work toward the ranch.
It seemed like I blinked, and was home. It seemed like the whole course went by so fast, especially the last 2km. If I had to guess, I was enjoying the benefits of that “runner’s high” that I keep hearing about, but has never quite found me. This wasn’t the longest run for me — that was the Hospital Hill 10K in early June — but it was by far the best run I’ve had since I began this journey three years ago, taking advantage of my second chance after cancer.
So, how’d this match up against my 10K times two months ago? Well, it’s pretty amazing. In June, the race was just over six miles, and I covered it at a pace of 17:54min/mi. This morning, I did just over five files, and covered it at 16:35min/mi. I shaved 1:20min/mi off my time in June! And frankly, this morning, I really believe I could’ve done 10km easily. Things were going just that well.
After a couple of weeks of pretty challenging running, it was awesome to have a really, really good run!