I have started to write this blog about 10 times trying to find the perfect words. I’m still a little shocked and awed… so I hope that I can capture what all this day meant to me.
Right after Volkslaufe, a friend from our running group – Ed – suggested that Ken and I run the Elsie Dairy Dash this weekend. I politely declined because it would change which race ends up being my 50th race this year. Of course, Ed talked our group leader Matt into doing the race. “It’s a flat, fast course! You can totally get a PR!” And I don’t know if I have ever mentioned on here before just how relentless Matt is… but needless to say, eventually I was convinced to run the race… and to try for a sub 30 minute 5k with Paula.
There was a bit of a hang-up, though. I had already planned on going to the Tigers game Friday night, which started at 7:10pm. And Detroit is about a 90 minute drive from where I live… so I knew I would not be getting a good amount of sleep the night before the race. This had me concerned, and not at all convinced that a sub 30 minute 5k was possible. In my head I told myself I would be happy if we were able to pull off a 31 minute 5k… 10 minute miles, that would be awesome!
I invited my friends to stay at my house the night before the race since Elsie is only a 45 minute drive from me, compared to over 90 minutes for them. They enjoyed an awesome dinner and a relaxing night, and I had an awesome time at the Tigers game. I didn’t get home until 1am… so getting up at 5am meant less than 4 hours of sleep. My confidence was slipping.
I woke up right at 5am – exhausted, but functional. We made breakfast and got ready for the trip out to Elsie. We arrived at Ed and Misty’s beautiful home right by the race start just before 7am, the race began at 7:30. Paula and I were definitely nervous. We both talked about how we were a little bit hungry, but that both of our stomachs were a little uneasy. Just before the race we went for a short warm-up jog. That jog felt so difficult and it definitely did not help my confidence one bit! We gathered up with everyone else at the start – the race was very small, only about 50 people signed up. We noticed as we were going to take our pre-race selfie that there was a guy dressed as a cow behind us, so we asked him to get in our picture.
The race started and we took off. I had told Paula that she would need to reign me in on the first mile because I always start too fast. At first we said let’s keep up with the cow guy. Then Paula looked at our pace and said, “9:05 pace” and we slowed it down. I guess we weren’t going to keep up with the cow. Not long after Paula said “Still 9:05 pace” – CRAP! Just what I always do, going out way too fast! So we slowed it up a bit and finished our first mile in 9:36. This was faster than we had planned to go out, but I think we both felt pretty good after the first mile.
The next stretch of the race was tough. We reached the out and back portion of the race and saw the race leader speeding towards the finish. We saw our faster friends passing us and gave out high fives, waves, and “woo woo”‘s! Paula pointed out to me a sign that Ed and Misty had made telling me to get my PR today! Those little moments of happiness – seeing the sign and other runners – were what kept us going because this mile quite frankly sucked. It was out in the sun, getting hotter, and we were feeling that pace. We turned around and not long after reached the 2 mile mark. 9:39 pace. I looked at Paula and I said “Holy crap, we might actually do this!”
Now we had to maintain this momentum for another 1.1 miles. The course got a little bit cooler and shaded, which helped, but you could hear in our breathing that everything sucked. After the race, Paula and I remarked to each other how badly we each wanted to walk, but we saw each other out of the corner of our eyes and said “Nope, not walking, we got this.” We used our “Lily & Robin Telepathy” to keep each other motivated. Not far from the finish we were greeted by our friend Sizzle, who fits his name to a tee – he’s fast! He joined up with us and told us to concentrate on breathing, which helped fight the thoughts of wanting to walk. Not long after that Ed met up with us, and the first thing he said was “2 miles is hard!” which is an ongoing joke in our running group due to me looking like I was dying after running only 2 miles with Paula at the end of her marathon. I agreed that 2 miles was hard and then I really felt like I wanted to die. WHERE WAS THIS FREAKIN’ FINISH LINE!?
We finally turned the corner and saw the finish line within reach. Remember how I asked Paula to reign us in during the first mile so we didn’t go out too fast? Well I promised her that I would push us at the end, and push us I did! I told her “Let’s do this!!!” and we sprinted for the end. I didn’t see or hear anyone, just saw the finish line ahead of me. I didn’t even know what our time was. We crossed the finish line and I stopped my watch: WE DID IT. We got our freakin’ sub 30 minute 5k!!!!! I went over to the nearest tree to keel over in exhaustion and then went back to Paula to give her the biggest hug. WE EFFIN DID IT!
Not only did we get a sub 30 minute 5k, but we did it in an official time of 29:33, making us feel very legitimately like sub 30 minute 5k runners. Paula beat me by .02 seconds. ;)
We weren’t the only ones in our group who did well that day – in fact, every single person in our group either placed in their age group or got a PR… or both! And we represented over 1/5th of the registered runners. We all felt so great! After the race Ed and Misty were gracious enough to invite us over to their house for homemade French toast, YUM! After breakfast we watched the parade and then explored the dairy festival. We had pizza for lunch and then all headed home. It was an incredible day, one I won’t soon forget. Great times spent with great friends. I love my Michigan Runners family!