Race Recap: Midnight Madness 2012
I don’t remember the last time I ran a 5K road race. I’ve certainly run 3-ish mile routes (and then some, usually) on a fairly regular basis, but it’s probably been two years since I registered for a 5K and ran it all-out. This past Saturday, I did just that. Midnight Madness is an annual 5k & 10K in Ames, and this history is quite rich. It attracts a diverse crowd of professional runners and dedicated walkers, complete with large strollers. More than a race, it’s a huge social gathering in the community and overall a great time. The race has some added history for me because it was the first 5K (or race of any kind) I ever ran, back in 2007. So, after a rather lengthy break, I decided to sign up with the intent of testing my speed and seeing just where my PR was for a 5K. I assumed I had gotten faster in the past two years, but I’ve never focused much on speed and have been much more intentional about upping my distance. To this point, the fastest recorded 5K I had run was in 25:08 and that was almost two years ago, so I was poised for a faster time!
Now, this particular Saturday started like most, which is to say I went for a morning run. I didn’t think much of it despite the 5K that evening, but after I returned home from a 16 mile run, it occurred to me that my legs may end up feeling this later in the evening. Alas, this proved to be correct 🙂
I ran down to the starting line, giving me a chance to warm up my legs, which I thought might be helpful and I had never done before either. Two miles of warm-ups left me ready to go! I arrived early and had a chance to chat with some friends before the race, and actually almost missed the start altogether because I was busy chatting away. However, I realized the time and stepped into the pack of racers just as the gun went off. Unfortunately, this is a popular race for walkers, and I ended up at the back of the pack. I did my best to weave through people and work my way closer to the front of the pack with runners more at my pace, but I’m pretty sure I came close to crushing quite a few small children along the way!
Despite the congestion at the start, I hit mile one in 7:21 which was a great time and left me excited. My second mile felt fairly good as well, although I felt myself starting to tire towards the end. I still hit it at 7:46, so I was ahead of pace. I should note that at this point, the thought and hope of breaking 24 minutes had entered my mind and I had gotten excited. It had been a tiring day academically, so this goal lifted my spirits quite a bit. Unfortunately, the 16 miles I had done earlier in the day caught up with me on the third mile and I finished 3.1 in 24:08. I know I should have been really happy with my time, but I still walked away a bit frustrated and wondering what I was really capable of had my legs been fresh when the race started.
Later that evening, after I had ran home and showered, I reminded myself that running was FUN! I let myself get a bit frustrated but I’ve kept at it this long because I enjoy it, and I think it’s really important not to loose sight of that. I think many folks become very competitive (either internally or with others) and forget why they started running in the first place. Every time I lace up my shoes and head out for a run, I’m doing it for me. I’m doing it for the peace of mind, and for the energy it gives me. Every time I toe the line, I’m doing it because I enjoy the atmosphere and cherish the experience. Getting frustrated every once-in-awhile isn’t a bad thing, as long as I always remember that I do it all because it’s fun!
Ironically, amidst it all, it didn’t even dawn on me that I still hit a PR for the 5K 🙂