This weekend in particular seems to be worthy of its own blog post for many different reasons. I spent the weekend surrounded by plenty of friends, runners, and family members which always makes me so happy because these are three things I value in my life the most. I guess I should start from the beginning.
I’ll start the weekend at Thursday because this day was a particularly good day in my opinion. I would like to thank my best friend, Brianna, for being my go-to girl for life chats and gossip. She may not realize how important her friendship means to me even though we acknowledge its importance regularly. Without her I would go insane. We make sense of each other’s highs and lows. After a stressful week between losing electric for a few days, preparing for my brother’s graduation party, and balancing work, running, and a social life, I was in much need of a few hours with her. So thanks for making me realize that life will be okay because our chat refreshed me for the weekend ahead. I LOVE YOU! ❤
On Thursday I also became an official member of a local running club which I am extremely grateful for. All the people are so friendly and it makes me love the running community even more than I ever thought I could. Everyone is just so supportive of each other. Runners have a way of bonding with each other no matter the age, gender, or speed. We’re all runners. We understand each other and that’s what makes the running community so perfect. Through this club I know that my love for running and the running community will continue to grow beyond what it’s already been so far.
On Friday (as it is our tradition), my dad and I went to pick up our race bibs for our traditional 4th of July race. We did our pre-race run, had pasta for dinner, and set out our racing shoes and race-day outfits. Before falling asleep I remember going over every mile of the race in my head to visualize the race course and mentally prepare for the race. I felt ready and I knew I was ready.
Saturday morning I woke up a little before 7 oclock, ate my usual pre-race meal (toast with peanut butter and banana) and put on my “galaxy” spandex and a purple shirt (I would later change into a blue-ish tank top for the race). We got to the race and met up with a few friends and did a 2 mile warm–up. During this 2-mile warm-up we also found a few other friends we knew which was exciting!
The race started at 8:45 so we got to the starting line around 8:35 and claimed our spot. This year I decided to sneak a little closer to the front so I wouldn’t have to weave through baby strollers or kids that had sprinted the first 100m of the race. I stood about 5 rows back and could see my dad and former coach in the very front of the running field. A four mile race was ahead of us with uphills, downhills, sprinklers, and plenty of local spectators. And then the race official counted down “3-2-1-GO!”
The field of runners took off. I settled in with my friend, Catherine, who also decided she was going to pace me during the race. (THANK YOU, CATHERINE, FOR BEING THE BEST RACE PACER EVER! – I LOVE YOU!) Since the first mile is mostly flat (and maybe even slightly downhill) we went out a tad bit faster than we probably should have. We crossed the mile marker at 6:29 and a huge hill was waiting for us a half-mile down the road. We both knew the first mile was extremely fast but we didn’t say anything to each other. In our heads, we just pretended we didn’t even see 6:29.
Then the hill came. This isn’t some miniature hill that only takes a total of 6 second to climb. This is a quarter-mile hill to nowhere. Luckily, thanks to former cross country speed workouts I was used to this hill. This is the hill we did 800m repeats on. This is where we all became stronger hill runners. So I felt mentally prepared for this hill and knew that at the top I would have a 200m downhill to recover. At the top, I took a deep breath and used the downhill to catch my breath.
Mile 2 we ran a 7:05. This is proof that we went out too hard. But I knew that if I could hold this pace I would still PR by a lot. Mile 2 to mile 3 is also a slight uphill. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, this is the hill I always forget about because the only hill I “worry” about is the big hill. This is where I really started feeling that 6:29 first mile. I complained every so often to Catherine that I felt horrible. But she got me to the top of the hill and got me refocused to finish the race strong.
Mile 3 was even slower than mile 2. 7:35. Well, shoot. I made some noise of recognition that I was dissatisfied with a 7:35 mile split. But we had a mile to go. A mile left to break my time from two years ago. A mile of people lined up along the race course to cheer on runners they knew and runners they didn’t know. And that’s what got me to the finish line. That finally turns onto Broadway sends a rush of adrenaline. Yes, there’s still three-quarters of a mile left when you make that final turn but you also know that the finish line is closer than it was 2 miles ago. So Catherine and I picked it up a bit. And then maybe some more – I don’t really remember. We crossed over the railroad tracks which is when you have a direct view of the finish line 200m in front of you. The end was near!
Something in my head, or in my legs, or maybe even in my heart told me to give it all I got. To sprint. To push beyond what I thought were my limits. But limits don’t really exist. Because I told myself that I wasn’t going to let the guy beside me beat me. And he was telling himself that he wasn’t going to let me beat him. So we sprinted. And I pushed beyond the limits that I thought were in my head. And I out-sprinted him. And THANK GOODNESS I sprinted. Because by out-sprinting that guy by miliseconds, I achieved my goal of being in the top 70. I finished exactly 70th.
I don’t remember seeing the finishing clock. I forgot to stop my watch. I was just excited I out-sprinted someone for once in my life. I was handed a water bottle which I think I took rather drunkenly because I couldn’t catch my breath. I finally looked at my watch and saw 28:12. That’s a PR! I thanked Catherine for pacing me and being awesome as usual. Teammates look out for each other and I wouldn’t have ran so well if she wasn’t by my side the whole time pushing me beyond the limits in my head.
I found my mom and mommom who had been anxiously waiting at the finish line. And we cheered in all the runners we knew. Even my five-year old “cousin” finished. And he was smiling the whole time! Overall, the race was an awesome experience. My official time (since I had forgotten to stop my watch) was 28:08 which is officially a minute and 27 seconds faster than my previous best time. This is a goal I had control over because this goal depended on my ability to push myself beyond what I thought was possible. And I was able to do just that by focusing on the goal and believing in my strength. Two of my other goals were to improve my 12th overall female placing from last year and be in the top 70. Both of these goals were completely out of my control because there was no possible way for me to count 69 people ahead of me or how many females were ahead of me. But I knew that if I ran a PR, I would have a chance of achieving both these goals. I finished as the 7th overall female and 70th overall (out of 831 finishers). Therefore, I achieved all my goals which is the best feeling in the world!
I ran another 2 mile cool down discussing the race and life with Angela. This was a perfect way to end the morning and celebrate our running success for the day! That night we had family and friends over for our traditional 4th of July BBQ.
So too much food. Lots of fun. And some illegal fireworks.
Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays and every year brings something new. Whether it’s new friends, old friends, family inside jokes, or just plain ‘ol new memories this weekend always makes me appreciate everything that I have in my life. I’m extremely grateful for all my friends for always being there for me. I love the running community that I am a part of and will continue to be a part of as it continues to expand. I love my family more than anything and without them I wouldn’t be the person I am today. And I have a love for this country and my freedom to make all these memories.
I hope everyone had a safe and memorable 4th of July weekend! Until next year, folks!