It’s a nice feeling to go to bed the night before a race, having eaten without a goal in mind aside from surviving. I had a nice, leisurely dinner with Adonis, excited about sharing a 5k with several girls from school who would be running their first. My colleague, Running for Two, and I have been training the Girl Power Running Club since August, helping them with their stamina and pacing. In the beginning, I ran with the slower ones and she with the faster; as she became more pregnant and my marathon training ended, we switched roles. At our last practice, our first finishers came in between 33 and 36 minutes, so I was expecting a relatively chill morning. As I walked to the starting line with RFT, 14 girls, and their parents, I was feeling nervous, but it wasn’t for me. I just wanted my girls to pace themselves and be happy.
That changed. Quickly. Literally!
My speedy girls took off and I ran with them, slightly behind. I checked my watch. I saw an 8 – and it wasn’t in the seconds place. Blast you, youthful adrenaline! I found myself hoping that the girls actually couldn’t maintain their pace because I knew that I couldn’t. Thankfully, that 8 became a 9 within a reasonable amount of time. I saw that the two girls ahead of me were using me as motivation to keep going. Each time they slowed to a walk, one would look for me. “Don’t let me catch you!” I shouted, knowing that I probably couldn’t, heh.
After about half the race, I did end up catching up, but only because as I had thought (and hoped, for my sake!), they started too fast. I was still running with a girl, who went a bit ahead of me. I don’t know if she knew she was pacing me. She would walk sometimes and I yelled at her to keep going. By the last mile, I remembered why I don’t enjoy short races as much. I had to make the choice between swallowing and slowing down. I checked my heart rate. 145. Lies. I was hauling, but it’s good to know that I can smile like I’m enjoying every moment.
We made the last turn for the finish line. I looked at my watch – under 30 minutes. I knew she was on track to probably get a prize for her age group. “RUN!” I screamed. Whoa. Was I going to finish under 30 minutes too? Aaaaaaaand no. But she did! I crossed the timing mat at 30:06, feeling pleased at my best 5k performance in a long time and thankful that I wasn’t left in the dust.
I reminded Speedy to keep walking to bring her heart rate down, then we walked over to cheer in the rest of our runners. Most of the girls looked really strong as they crossed. I ran in with several of them, as did Speedy. They all were really excited to get their medals. RFT crossed with the last of the girls. We took a group picture, looking notably more fatigued than we had an hour earlier, but surely the bling made up for it!
We stuck around for the awards ceremony. I was chatting with some parents when I heard the most insane thing.
My name. Whaaaaaaaaat?!
I squealed and ran up to dj’s booth. “Where do I go?!” I got another medal and met Berry!
I thanked Speedy, who had placed 2nd in her AG (!) profusely. I knew I couldn’t have done it without her motivating me. It’s amazing how by doing your best, you can help people without your knowing it, no matter how old you are. Most of the girls said that they couldn’t wait to run again next year! Winning!
Girl Power Is Legit.