I’ve set a new official 5K PR! (20:57)
I had been planning to run the Medford Lakes Colony 5K for a few weeks because I absolutely love running around Medford Lakes. The water is stunning, the houses are storybook log cabins, and the roads are shaded + flat. This February, I set a previous 5K PR (21:25) at the Pineland Striders Chilly Willy 5K, which looped around the same area. The Medford Lakes were frozen then.
I know I’m not the only runner who seems to run her best races on “off” days. Whenever running friends asked me how I felt in the days leading up to this race, I just said, “Slow.”
I was kind of disappointed with my performance at my last 5K (21:45). I was feeling really fit after my legs recovered from Broad Street. The weather was ungodly hot and humid, but I still assumed I would run a lot faster than I did. So I wasn’t really going into this 5K race with any expectations, aside from having fun and sharing a patriotic occasion with other runners dressed in red, white, and blue.
I think I managed to get a decent night’s sleep (5 hours) before this race because I didn’t have my heart set on shattering any records. I was thinking instead about running in honor of our fallen military and for my brother, who is a marine.
Chris and I arrived at Vaughan Hall (the start of the race) around 7:15. We signed up and collected our t-shirts with 30 minutes to spare.
I found a shady, flat, peaceful .5 mile loop around the starting line. I ran two loops (1 mile) to warm up. I decided to listen to my favorite 5K playlist during this race, because I could tell I’d need some extra pep in my step.
150 runners toed the starting line at around 7:50. Someone sang the national anthem, which I really enjoyed. There were about 5 guys and 2 girls gunning for the win. One girl was doing strides and very seriously checking out the competition. I could tell she really wanted to be the first lady. I kind of just laughed when she looked in my direction, because I was feeling incredibly lazy.
After the starting siren went off, 8 or 10 guys and 2 girls darted out ahead of me. Sure enough, I felt slow but also calm and relatively content. Chris ran ahead of me for the first .75 miles. He kept looking back and making a “What are you doing?” face because I’d obviously let the other two girls get away. I was running by feel and almost completely unconcerned with anyone else’s race. I didn’t even hear my Garmin split because I had Die Antwoord blaring in my ears. I actually hit my first mile in 6:29, which is the fastest I’ve ever run the first mile of a 5K race.
The nice thing about racing with music is you can’t hear other runners’ distress. You cannot hear your own distress, either. You’re sort of deceived into thinking you’re breathing much easier than you actually are.
Chris and I went back and forth for about a minute after the one mile mark and then I passed him. I started ticking off a few other guys, while keeping a casual eye on the women’s race. The girl who’d been striding at the start fell behind the other leading woman, who began picking up an impressive advantage. I knew the first place woman was running a much faster pace than I could sustain. But the second place girl was fading. We crossed the second mile mark over a bridge with a view of golden, sunlit water. It was truly a beautiful morning.
I started to hone in on the second place girl’s ponytail. I passed her at about 2.5 miles. I had no idea how fast I was running, but I figured I was running slow and steady, because the course (which had many turns) seemed to stretch on forever. Yet, when I rounded the last corner, I saw the clock read 20:45. I couldn’t believe it. It took absolutely every ounce of energy I had left to sprint for the finish. In my head, the effort was Herculean. In reality, I probably looked half dead.
I crossed the finish line at 20:58 (my chip time was a second faster). I was so proud of myself. I actually felt good, too. No puking or heaving. I even had my act together enough to get my iPhone photography A game on. I snapped a few shots of Chris crossing the finish line.
Finish line footage!
We grabbed some pretzels and Pirate’s Booty, which are A+ snacks, in my book. I convinced Chris to join me for half of my cool down mile and then I finished the rest on my own.
The awards at this race were some of the coolest I’ve ever seen in all the hundred+ 5K races I’ve run. They were beautiful hand-engraved plaques cut from the original wood used to build Vaughan Hall. The first place overall woman won the biggest award, and I was really happy she did because, as it turns out, her mother was the artist who made them.
I won my age category, and Chris won second in his age category, so we both received mini plaques!
After the race, we got coffee from Starbucks (a tradition) and enjoyed an afternoon by the pool, which was freezing cold. I have finally found the perfect ice bath!
Questions for the Internets:
Have you ever received a hand-made award?
What are your favorite post-race snack offerings?
Did you race this Memorial Day weekend? How did it go?