On Saturday I ran my first 5k in 2-1/2 years. In a costume. And I stuck to my race plan. And it wasn't my slowest 5k. In fact, it was faster than the last 5k I ran, pre-baby! Nevermind that my average pace (7:22) was my half marathon PR pace from 2011- any my 10k PR pace in 2013. Ironic.
The race is known as the "largest and fastest parade of costumes in southern Minnesota" so I felt it only appropriate to dress up. I Googled costume ideas and settled on the Cookie Monster which seemed easy enough to make at home. I procrastinated on making it until the night before the race, when I discovered that the fabric glue I bought wasn't holding. Enter my savior husband and his suggestion of the construction adhesive Liquid Nails. Worked like a charm.
I got to packet pick up early, wanting to beat the crowds, and grabbed my race number and t-shirt, then went to my favorite coffee shop for a little pre-race snack. I ran a 2 mile warm up and did a few drills, got costumed up, and lined up in the corral about five minutes before the race started.
My race plan was to stay slow my first mile, then hammer the next two. I kept checking my watch the first mile because it's so easy to get caught up with everyone and have a fast effort seem easy, and sure enough, I was a running a sub-7 pace when I first checked my watch. I immediately backed off and went through the first mile in 7:27, right where I wanted to be.
Then we hit hills. And not just a few. There were a lot. I concentrated on maintaining my effort and not my pace as we rolled through a neighborhood. Every time I thought we were to the top, I would see another hill in front of us. My second mile was 7:44.
What goes up must come down and while my legs were tired from climbing, I focused on staying relaxed and loose, trying to use each downhill for a rest. Mile 3 was 7:06, significantly faster than my first mile and the first time EVER that my first mile was not my fastest in a 5k. I finished with a little left in the tank and felt great.
My Garmin said 22:42 but my official results (gun time) were 22:50. I'm happy with it. The race served its purpose of honing in training paces for the next few weeks, before I race another 5k in November. Honestly, when I think about the shape I used to be in and how much work it will take to get back there, everything feels way too overwhelming. But all I can do is take it a day at a time and just do what I can. Constant forward progress and all that.