I went to bed on Friday evening feeling fulfilled and accomplished after a successful day of volunteering at the expo. I was pumped to be racing my first 5K the next morning with Lauren, but was also a little anxious.
Anxious for a 5K? What the hell, Christina. You’ve run marathons. 5K is nothing in comparison!
(Yeah, that’s lovely, but my left knee had been giving me issues ever since Glass Slipper. After a lot of self-researching, I hypothesized that it was a case of Runner’s Knee, or patellar tendinitis. As much as I would have loved to really race this 5K, I had two objectives:
- To pace Lauren comfortably, and
- Finish in one piece.
My knee had been seizing up during the night the days before the race. On a scale of 1-10, this pain was around a 9.8. Trust me, it was not pleasant to deal with. Any runner who has dealt with injury before can commisserate.)
I woke up a little before 5:00 AM and sent a good morning text to Chris, who was at the airport and heading his way towards D.C.! The thought that I knew my KKPsi Big Brother would be waiting in the finisher’s area for Lauren and I gave me an early morning boost that didn’t require coffee. 🙂
I got dressed and started making my way to the Metro. Based off of the timing I noted the day before, it would take me about 25 minutes to make it to the Stadium Armory from Mount Vernon Square, including the transfer from L’Enfant Plaza. At the MVS stop, I ran into another group of runners that were running the half and found out the majority of them went to PSAC schools just like I had, and we struck up conversation. It really is a small world!
I got to the staging area around 6:25 AM, and caught this fabulous sunrise…
Since I had well over an hour until the race started, I explored the finisher’s area and snapped a few pictures while updating the socials with said pictures…
I found Lauren while on my adventures, and we went around trying to find the gear check trucks. It took a couple of minutes and a visit to the info booth to figure out where we were going, but we got everything checked and ready to go! The rock music (lots of Metallica and AC/DC) was pumping and runners were getting excited. Once we got to corral 3, it was horribly weird acknowledging the fact that I was in a race area that had 2,200 runners. I was used to far more chaotic crowds, and a larger corral space. (These corrals were only a fraction of the runDisney corrals’ size.)
(^^Lauren and I pre-race! Look how close we are to the start line and we’re only in Corral 3.)
In the minutes just before the race began, the corrals flooded with people and it got very crowded. It didn’t seem like anyone was really policing the area for proper corral placement. (I’m assuming this was more critical for the half and full, which were starting simultaneously across town.)
Weather-wise, it was a decent day. It was a little gloomy after the sunrise ended, and it sprinkled a little, but it was in the upper 40’s so that was ideal. The race started promptly at 7:30 with the corral 1 runners. All 2,200 of us counted down each other’s corrals. That was a fantastic feeling! The corrals were released in 1-1:30 minute increments, and this felt like no time at all. In less than five minutes, Lauren and I were taking off past RFK Stadium to accomplish our first 5K! We took a very conservative pace (which turned out to be around a 13:00 mpm), and spent the time taking in the course and experience. Bands were playing at every mile marker, and we were engaged in conversation the entire time. (This is a great method to determine whether you’re going too hard; if you can’t form coherent sentences, you’re going too fast.)
I helped pace our run/walk segments; I would call out a certain spot on the course (usually a mile marker), and encourage Lauren that, “Once we get to that spot, we can walk! Yay!” After each marker we hit, we walked for a about a minute to assess our bodies and make sure we weren’t falling apart. We kept calling out distances via our Garmin (which we magically started at the exact same time), and would count down how much longer we would have to run to finish the course. The elites were coming back up on our left side during Mile 1, and we cheered for each one of them, which prompted more cheering from the runners around us. (Runner comraderie is the best!)
We rounded mile three, and started up the last hill towards the finish. The gentleman who was announcing the finishers was actually DOWN ON THE COURSE personally giving high fives and interacting with the runners. There’s no better feeling than giving a high five and having him say, “Team Sparkle is in the house!” with cheers erupting from the grandstands.
Across the finish line we went, and 5K was officially completed in 42:07! Woohoo!
(Trust me, my first thought after, “Woohoo!” was, “…that was it!?!” Running long distances will have that effect.)
The RnR finisher’s chute is set up far differently than runDisney, and I may actually prefer this method: first, medals (handed to you, not draped around your neck), pictures (not formal; the backdrops were their for runners’ leisure in case they wanted pictures), space blankets (my collection keeps growing!), and different food tents where you could pick and choose your recovery items that you wanted (chips/pretzels/salty snacks, bananas, True Moo chocolate milk, Powerbar…the list goes on!)
Lauren and I grabbed our items and headed over to the potties, gear retrieval, and changing tent. At this time, Chris had arrived and I was anxious to greet my Big Brother. I had sent him a picture of the A-D family meetup sign earlier, and told him to meet us there. We entered the finisher’s festival area and I saw him from afar. I looked at Lauren and excitedly mentioned, “There’s my Big!” and took off toward him at full speed, my Mylar blanket flying behind me like a cape. (I didn’t care how much my knee hurt at this point. I was just excited to see my Big!) Luckily for me, Chris was facing the other way, and my hug from behind took him by total surprise (to the point where he almost flipped me over; martial arts training will have that effect). Once the realization was made that I was a friend and not an enemy, hugs and smiles and happiness were exchanged.
Can you see why I was so excited for the end of this race? Yeah. That’s why.
So that is the story of Christina’s first 5K! I’m very content that I could finally cross that off my list of race distances that I have run, and that my knee held up the whole time! At the time of this writing, it has been healing quite nicely. I traversed close to 50 miles during my time in D.C. (compared to 47.2 during Christmas vacation), so I think that played a role in loosening whatever tightness had accumulated during the three weeks between GSC and RnR. Those adventures will be covered in a forthcoming post.
In the two and a half months so far in 2016, I have raced four races of four different distances: full, 10K, half, 5K. Currently, I have no races scheduled on the calendar in the near future, but that may change at any time…you never know where I may show up next!
Until next time,
See you at the finish line!