Whenever my dad woke up feeling extra-tired thanks to an earlier-than-usual wakeup call, he’d say: “Early came early this morning.”
That’s the first thought that popped into my mind Wednesday morning, when I woke up at 5:30 a.m. ahead of the Mount Trashmore Family YMCA’s 28th annual July 4th We Build People 5K. I’d gotten enough sleep, having gone to bed at 9:30 p.m. in anticipation of the early wake-up, but I felt that familiar drag of my body saying: “Oh, not today. Maybe next time.”
I’d had this race on my radar for weeks. A bunch of people from my Tuesday-night running group were planning to be there, and I knew I could use the tune-up ahead of the Allen Stone Run-Swim-Run on July 21. But when I woke up on Wednesday, my body was tired, my broken pinkie toe was sore from something I’d done in TRX class the day before, and by 7:30 a.m., the heat index was already 86 degrees. Oh—and I hadn’t run since breaking my pinkie toe two weeks ago.
Still, I headed over to Mount Trashmore determined to try my absolute best, and to run the fastest race possible given the circumstances. In the first mile, that meant a breezy, happy 8-minute mile. By the second mile, it felt like there were heating pads trapped underneath my skin, and that someone was holding a wet, warm washcloth over my face. I started repeating a mantra I use for occasions like these: “You feel like you’re gonna pass out or puke? Fine. Run ’til you pass out or puke.” When I actually felt like both of these events were a real possibility with a full mile left to go, I backed off. I finished in 26:29, roughly 8:30-minute-mile pace.
I felt only a brief rush of disappointment at the fact that I ran 30 seconds per mile slower, pace-wise, than I usually run on my Tuesday 4.2-miler. I pushed the pace the entire race. I finished feeling 100 percent certain there was nothing left in the tank. I tried my absolute best, and ran the fastest race possible given the circumstances. And it was still a great training run for the run-swim-run—like a speed workout completed in a sauna. An additional bonus? My toe felt fine both during and after the race.
Plus, aside from the pass out/puke phase of the morning, it was fun! I hung out with my running-group friends before and after the race, and even ran into a couple of friends from my TRX class, including a woman who had temporarily colored her short blond hair with red, white and blue stripes for the occasion. Together, we bitched about the heat, compared plans for later in the day (I went blueberry picking, and went to a barbecue at a TRX-friend’s house) and checked out other patriotic costumes (none of which topped my friend’s hair).
When I got home Wednesday evening, I checked my race results online, and got a big surprise: I came in third out of 38 women in my age group! I’m not sure how this happened. It’s not like the entire field was slower than usual for a race of this size: All the other age-group winners in the women’s categories finished in 19 or 20 minutes and change. Not the 30 to 34-year-old women—the top finisher crossed the line in 25 minutes! After a brief period of confusion, I settled into extreme, unearned pride.
Here’s how the rest of the week shaped up:
Saturday: Swim 30 minutes in Bay
Sunday: SUP for two long, hot, hard hours. Swim 35 minutes in Bay.
Monday: Group swim in Bay with Final Kick. Got lost and swam much more than the 1,600-meter course, for a total of about an hour. Shoulders still sore from SUP on Sunday!
Wednesday: Mt. Trashmore Family YMCA’s 28th annual July 4th We Build People 5K.
Thursday: TRX, swim 30 minutes in Bay
Friday: Speed workout on treadmill?