Yes, I understand that the Downtown Willoughby 5K was about a month ago, but I never got around to writing my recap. Life’s pretty busy around here, so I can’t be too upset at myself for not getting it done. And because this was an awesome race for me, a recap was needed.
The Downtown Willoughby 5K was Sunday, September 13. I LOVE this race. I really do. Downtown Willoughby does an absolutely fabulous job of turning a race into a block party, and the support from local businesses and the public in general is amazing.
We arrived at the race early to get shirts and bibs. The weather was not quite what I was hoping for that morning – cold and drizzly. I’m not a cold-weather running girl, so I was already worried about how that might affect me. Plus, I wore my “fast” shoes that aren’t the best for rain and water. Great, I thought, I’ll be racing in wet feet. We went back to the car to wait and warm up. Seat warmers are my best friend.
I hopped out about 15 minutes before the start, made a quick stop at the bathroom (racing when you have to pee is horrible), and tried to find a spot closer to the front. I’m no speed demon, but I had a goal in mind that I didn’t share with anyone before the race – I wanted a new 5K PR. I wasn’t going to get that if I started behind the people who planned to jog or walk the race. I got as close as I could but was immediately worried when I saw a guy in front of me puffing on his e-cig before the race. SERIOUSLY, DUDE?! Not my idea of pre-race fuel, but whatevs. The gun went off, and I had to do some weaving to get out from behind e-cig man and his crew. They obviously didn’t line up with the walkers like they were supposed to.
For some reason, I felt like I didn’t have it that day. By the time I was at half a mile, my legs felt tired, and my breathing was hard. I looked at my watch and it was in the 7:20s. A little fast I told myself. Slow it down just a bit and now hold that for another 2.6 miles. I had a first class ticket for the pain train.
I made it to the first mile and was feeling the same. Tired but still moving forward and keeping a good pace. A PR was still very possible. I saw the water stop and debated with myself whether or not to stop. Water won, so I grabbed the drink, downed it, and kept moving. Thankfully, I’ve greatly improved my drinking and running technique where I don’t need to stop and don’t end up choking anymore. That’s a plus.
My watch beeped at 2 miles, and I was thankful that I only had one more left. By now, I was breathing heavily and getting warm despite the cooler temps. Keep going, keep going.There was an incline near the end, and I kept looking at my watch. I was getting a little slower, and it frustrated me. Effing pick it up, Steph! You’re not going to blow this PR at the end of the race because you were tired!!!! I started to think of my speedy friends, and that motivated me. My legs found some energy, and I made it to the turn for the last stretch to the finish. Seeing everyone cheering on the finishers helped me sprint to the finish with a big smile on my face.
I DID IT! I crushed my old 5K PR. I walked though the finish area, grabbed my goodies, sat on a step of one of the buildings and cried. I was so happy and proud of myself. Who says you have to get slower as you get older?! I walked back to the car, and we made the trip back home. It wasn’t until we were home for a bit that I was able to check the results online. That’s when I REALLY started crying. Right there, listed as the #2 finisher in my age group was my name. Stuff like this does happen for me. I don’t place in races, let alone a race with 200+ people in my age group! My official race results were #2 in my age group with a time of 23:28 and #113 overall.
The excitement happened all over again when I received this awesome prize in the mail. This is definitely one medal I’m keeping because this may never happen again. I’ll enjoy it while I can 🙂
And since I wore my Southern Tier Brewing Company shirt to race in, it only seemed appropriate to celebrate my PR with my favorite Southern Tier beer – Warlock! Cheers, everyone. May your feet be speedy and your post-race beverage cold.