And it feels soooo good.
The first race of the season, The Lepre-Con 5K, happened on Saturday. A nice little run through Town Square with a decidedly playful atmosphere, it was hard to take yourself too seriously in a sea of green-clad folks wearing bright oranges beards. Feeling relaxed before a race is much better than feeling like you are going to puke on your shoes. For me, this is a welcome change.
In addition to raising a ton of money for St. Baldrick's Foundation, the largest private funder to childhood cancer research, the crowd also set a new Guiness Book of World Record for most number of leprechauns gathered in one spot. The old world record, set in Ireland in 2012, counted around 1200 little green people; on Saturday, the number topped 1400. Woohoo! It was a very cool thing to be a part of.
With my little buddy bouncing right next to me, my first mile was 6:57. The fastest (official) mile I've ever run.
The second mile, the one where we had to go up and over the overpass, was a bit slower. I could see only a few people in front of me, mostly men, and one woman wearing very large sunglasses. Brooks, the new trainer at Boot Camp, was well ahead and looking strong. He'd been so helpful during several long runs before CIM, jumping in to run the last half of them with me, usually about the time I was about physically and emotionally hit the wall. It was his very first race ever and I was hoping he'd kill it. By the looks of it, he was.
At the 180 degree turn, I counted six people ahead of me and one ten-year old next to me. This was a gun start, not chip-timed, so it literally was a race to the finish. All unofficial, of course, but the time mattered to me, mainly because it would set my vDot for marathon training. (Want to know your vDot? Look here). My sandy-haired nemesis was still holding strong, slightly behind me but surging ahead on occasion. As we headed back for the second half, several friends called out my name as I passed them, shouting words of encouragement. My freckled friend looked at me with confusion with each shout. I smiled at him. I wanted to tell him, "You may have youth, but I have experience. And friends who run." But of course, I could barely breathe, let alone talk, so I kept to myself. Second mile: 7:32. But the worst was behind me and I could charge to the finish.
It was kinda cool to be a sort-of leader. Along with the people I knew, several others shouted things like, "First female!" and "Go get it, girl!" I didn't stop to correct them that I was actually the second female, but I appreciated the sentiment. With so few people ahead, and at this point, I'd lost sight of the leaders. It was easy to get lulled into a tempo-ish pace. Thankfully, my preteen friend reminded me this was, in fact, a race every time he rolled past me. With three turns to go and totally annoyed by his youthful spirit, I focused on turnover and dropped him. Finally!
It was a little odd coming into the final stretch without Alex by my side, screaming at me in English and Spanish. But I guess we all have to grow up at some point, and today, I was on my own. With about 200m to go, and only one turn left, I heard a zombie. Some dude was close enough to chew on my shoulder. I picked it up, he picked it up. He huffed. I huffed. We both had a weird coughing fit (it was super hot and dry out there; my throat was parched and on fire). I swear, the guy growled when he finally passed me. Instead of feeling bummed, I burst into ridiculous giggles, not because of his speed or grunts, but because when he finally came into view, I saw his tiny little man shorts. Holy pale thighs. I mean, my shorts are short too, but...wow. They were like micro-shorts. The 70s are back, friends. On the last turn, I managed to compose myself, avert my eyes, and concentrate on finishing strong.
Last mile: 7:17. Finish: 22:30, or about 7:15 per mile. A new PR by a whooping 28 seconds. I felt amazing.
And thirsty. I found Brooks, who had come in 4th and under 19 minutes. Un-freaking-believable for a first race. He's been doing this for five months; I've been at it for almost five years. It's okay, I'm not jealous...
And then, out of the crowd, I saw my 10 year old friend. I smiled at him and said, "Great race!" He, to my immense surprise, reached out his tiny little hand to shake mine. Wow. Maybe the future of civilization is not doomed by the next generation. I shook it happily. Solid kid. I looked around to find a parent or guardian but didn't see anyone. I hope they know they are doing a great job. That's some serious sportsmanship.
Better than my finish time, I felt strong. I ran hard, but I didn't dry heave or faint at the end. I didn't feel at all like I did back at the 4th of July 5K, when I thought I was going to pass out in the last 100m. Instead, we laughed, drank a few tiny cups of water, and took a quick photo. Then I was on my way to Scotty's soccer game in Henderson. Once that ended, I headed out to our first baseball practice of the season. I didn't get home until after 1:30 and despite the events of the day, I felt totally fine. In fact, aside from a bit of dehydration, I felt like I could run easily on Sunday, though we opted for a long, slow hike at Red Rock to let the leggies recover. Gainz, indeed.
My jubilation was only further confirmed during my Monday recovery run. Five to six miles before boot camp at an easy pace. By mile 2, I had this incredibly shot of adrenaline/happiness/endorphin rush which caused me to forget I was running. I actually had to tell myself to slow down. But the good feeling lasted. Hooray for spring!
What does this all mean? It means training for the next full can finally start! Speed work 2x week, long runs, progressive runs, track Tuesdays...it's all happening again. Based on my calculations, I'll be having a minor meltdown at the end of March, I'll pull myself together by mid-April, and will run the first week of May. I'm still on the fence about running the Summerlin half in April (www.desertskyadventures.com), but may jump in an occasional 5K or two.
What are your racing plans? Anyone looking at a new/longer distance, or have a fun run they'd like to share? Leave a comment below or on Facebook - I'd love to hear what you have planned for this spring!