About a month ago I was looking at upcoming races and found the ‘Feel the Love 5k’, put on the Bryn Mawr Running Company. Realizing that Abbe’s birthday was coming up, I decided to get Abbe on board with the idea of running this race and then register her for it as a birthday present. She was ecstatic when she found out, and we eventually settled on the team name ‘Cats Us If You Can’. (The only criterion we agreed on for a team name was that it had to involve cats. There ya go.)
Next, we found some awesomely hideous cat shirts in the guy’s section of Urban Outfitters (thank you, hipsters), and the night before the race, we adorned the backs of the shirts with our team name in black fabric pen. The shirts turned out really cute, but they were wayyyy more ridiculous-looking when we actually put them on. We found this out right before leaving for the race…
Can we talk about the fact that no one else dressed up? Wait, that’s a lie: There was one other couple who had matching shirts, but much to mine and Abbe’s horror, they were memorial shirts. So we were, without a question, the most absurdly dressed people there. It was both hilarious and mortifying.
The race was held at the Navy Yard, which was a random-but-neat location because we got to see some huge, retired naval ships. The course was interesting because it was a double loop, and partners ran the loop in opposite directions. This was cool because you could kind of check in with how your partner was doing along the way!
But now, let’s talk about how the race went down. FIRST AND FOREMOST, Abbe and I both set huge PRs! Abbe ran 24:19 and averaged a solid sub-8 pace of 7:50 min/mi, and I ran 21:01 with an average pace of 6:46 min/mi!!
When I first started running with Abbe two summers ago, she ran roughly 11 minute miles. In a year and a half, she’s taken 3 whole minutes off her average time. THAT IS MAJOR. And it’s inspiring, because she’s done so by being conservative and consistent. She is now going to be the first person I mention to non-runners who are considering taking up the sport.
As for my time, I am thrilled because this definitely beats my high school PR of 22-something, and it is also the first race in which I ran every mile under 7 minute pace! Holy cow! My splits were as follows: 6:41, 6:53, 6:50. The last .1 was probably close to 6:00 because I was literally running as fast as I could, but I forgot to hit my garmin after crossing the finish line so I’m not totally sure.
Another interesting point about this race was that I let myself get just a teeny bit competitive again. One particular woman passed me early on in the race (maybe a quarter mile in), but then stayed just a step or two ahead of me for the first full lap. I was paying more attention to my garmin and to trying to keep my pace under 7:00 than I was to her, but then we started on lap two and it felt a little like she was slowing down.
I was determined not to slow my own pace, and I ended up passing her with a little over a mile to go. I could hear her footsteps behind me for a while, then slowly but surely I stopped hearing them. Around this point, Abbe and I saw each other (I had seen her on the first lap but she was too in the zone to see me!) and all I could manage was a nod and a clap her direction because I was set on staying in front of that lady.
I didn’t hear any other footsteps behind me, so when we rounded the last corner and a spectator started yelling to someone behind me to ‘Get her! Catch her!’, I figured this spectator was yelling to the woman I had passed and that I, in fact, was the her he was referring to. Catch me? THAT, I decided, was not going to fly, so as soon as I could see the finish line I found a secret anaerobic gear and started sprinting for my life.
A few steps away from the finish line, I looked up at the clock and saw ’20:59′, and experienced this brief moment of shock when I realized I had come dangerously close to actually breaking 21:00. I knew I didn’t break it when I crossed the finish line, but I also knew that my pursuer wasn’t able to catch me. VICTORY!!!!!
My septum had gone completely numb from the cold and started to very painfully thaw as I tried to find Abbe and watch her finish. Unfortunately, I was somewhat delirious and went and watched the wrong group of finishers (I was watching the people who ran in my direction, not in Abbe’s), so I missed Abbe and started to worry that she had gotten injured. When I finally realized my mistake, I went back to the finish line and found Abbe. At that point she had gotten worried about me, but upon seeing that the other was alright, we immediately exchanged our excited stories of triumph.
It was cold, but the organizers had hot chocolate, pretzels, and a warm tent waiting for us at the end so hanging around for the award ceremony wasn’t too brutal. We got a handful of self identifying cat-lovers come up to us and compliment our shirts, which nicely offset some of the questionable looks we had gotten from some other people. (A woman passed us when we were warming up and gave a look that was a non-verbal equivalent of, “Oh! You dressed up…”. Kind of brutal.)
As it turned out, we didn’t place in the Same Sex category but we got FOURTH, which is pretty darn close. We only missed third place by 6 seconds so we have high hopes for next year. (Oddly, on the ‘Overall Finishers’ list we ran, as I said, 24:19 and 21:01 as chip times, but for some reason in this list they put 24:22 and 21:03. I’m not sure why?)
Overall, this was a delightful event and I am so glad we did it. I never thought I’d say this, but I really like 5k’s, and I am looking forward to peppering in more of them throughout the year. This race also poses the question: what should my new 5k goal be?