Girls on the Run (also known as GOTR) is an awesome nonprofit that helps train young girls to run a 5k, but more importantly, also helps them with their self esteem. The lovely Deborah @ Confessionsofamotherrunner runs one of these groups, by the way.
This was my third time running this 5k (not in consecutive years) and it’s always been kind to me. In fact, it’s my “real” 5k PR. I say real because technically I have one a few seconds faster, but I also know that course was short. Like at least a quarter mile short.
Packet pickup was Friday night at our local Fleet Feet, from 4-7. The locals know how crazy busy that road gets on a Friday afternoon, but I knew it would make my life simpler not having to go back and forth to my car on Saturday.
I ran some errands in the vicinity and got there just a tad before 4, and they were enthusiastic, all set up, and ready to go. I had signed up on Wednesday, so they had to make me a packet, but it was quick and easy.
Not a lot of swag: some True Lemon drink samples and a lip balm. I actually used on of the True Lemon samples last week. The 100% cotton tee was a pretty teal color — of course I prefer a tech fabric, but sometimes in the winter I like to wear cotton tees under a sweater to keep warm.
Getting There & Hanging Out
Since I had picked up my bib the night before and was going solo, I didn’t feel the need to get there super early: only an hour before, LOL. I parked in the Riverfront parking garage, which is free on weekends, and a short walk over a bridge to the race start.
We run in this area frequently, and it’s actually one of my favorite areas to run (but only in a group, as there have been several attacks there), so I knew where other free parking was, but I was unsure how far from the start the alternative parking lots were. Note to self: only a quarter of a mile.
I stayed in the car and meditated a bit. I had a really good feeling about this race. It was sunny, but still cold out. Eventually I got out and used a portapotty, walked around a bit (asking a stranger to take my photo), and then did my warmup.
I almost went back to the car to get my slightly heavier jacket, as my teeth were literally chattering as I walked over to the race start — but in the end, after I warmed up, I was fine.
The weather & dressing
The weather was on the chilly side, but really, it was pretty darn nice. Partially sunny. Wind not too bad. 36F (which passes for warm this time of year here).
I chose Skirt Sports Wonder Wool Long Sleeve , Light-ish Jacket, and High Rise 7/8 Tight. (Skirt Sports Ambassador). I had light convertible gloves on as I walked around and did my warm up, but by the first half mile or so my hands were warm and I put them in my pockets. Newton Motion on the feet.
I might have been okay with a Watch Me Go Top instead of the Wonder Wool, but all in all, I was happy with this outfit.
My Race Plan
I put a little thought into how to handle this race. Yes, I wanted to run hard and chase that PR (this race being my 5k PR, after all, and flat, too!). I haven’t been training super hard, of course, and I slept horribly the night before.
I always knew it would be run in positive splits, and I was okay with that.
- A Goal: PR
- B Goal: How fast can I comfortably run that first mile and what could I hang onto after that?
- C Goal: Run Naked
- D Goal: Finish with a smile on my face feeling good
So how’d that work for me?
- Mile 1: 9:49. My Garmin Vivoactive 3 can be wonky on the first mile. If I just go by what it says, sometimes I’ve slowed down thinking I was running too fast — and I wasn’t. So I just wanted to go comfortably hard. I think that’s the fastest mile I’ve ever run in a race, so mission accomplished. Obviously I decided against the run naked goal.
- Mile 2: 10:13. I knew this mile would be slower. I don’t walk at all the first mile, so the second, when I take a short walk break to drink some water, is always slower.
- Mile 3: 10:31. I wish I could’ve held on to mile 2’s pace. Even just a tiny bit slower would have snagged me that PR.
- Last .10: 9:44. A sprint to the finish. Yes, indeed, finished with a smile and feeling good (well, feeling spent when I crossed the finish line but overall happy with the race after I caught my breath).
31:31 — Official Time
10:09 Average Pace
33 out of 159 (remember, lots of young girls!)
1 out of 6 F55-59
2016: 31:28, 10:08 Average Pace
2015: 31:37, 10:11 Average Pace
The official time is Gun Time (man, I hate when they do that). Net time was 31:27 (which would have been a 1 second PR, LOL!).
There was some ice on the course in several different spots, and I chose to slow to a walk over those spots. I’m quite sure I could have eeked out those few extra seconds for a PR had the course been ice-free, but you do what you do and if it’s not an actual PR, it’s not. No whining. I am very happy with this race.
Don’t get too excited about the fact that I was first in my AG (whether you did 5 or 10 year AGs), because this isn’t a race that draws the speedsters. This race is about the girls, and a lot of people don’t enjoy dodging around them. Oddly enough, almost all my fastest 5ks have been ones that are geared to girls.
Was the race well run?
The race started exactly on time and miracle of miracles, my Garmin showed it was also exactly 3.10 miles. There was a warm up (geared to the girls) before the start. It’s a simple out and back on a narrow path, and yet there are plenty of course marshals to cheer the girls (and adults) on.
The swag and the after race refreshments were underwhelming, but at least there was something, and it’s a good cause.
Was it a PR, or wasn’t it? I guess it wasn’t. So tantalizingly close. Much like my recent 15k, I think it could have been without the icy spots, but there’s no prize for could-have-beens (or PRs, for that fact).
There might still be a couple of 5ks in the next few weeks. One is strictly a fun run. The other depends on weather, again. PR or not, I am so, so pleased with this race. I have been running roughly 11 years now. I don’t think my PR days are behind me, not yet, although you never know.
Are PRs important to me? Yes and no. Running is still about challenging myself, being the best version of me under the circumstances given to me on race day. Some day inevitably I will slow down and my PR days will be behind me. I’ll keep running, as long as I’m able to. Maybe I’ll race less. Maybe I’ll run less in general. As long as my body can run, though, I will run.
This race is for a good cause: using running to help young girls feel better about themselves. I wish I’d been exposed to something like this as a young girl, although chances are I would have hated it. I encourage you to see if there’s a chapter near you here.
There are definitely days I wish it hadn’t taken me until my mid 40s to find my inner athlete, although on the other hand, there are days I’m thankful that I started so late, because running may be good for our bodies, but it also is hard on them.