The Independence Day 5K was the perfect way to end the Runner’s World Summer Running Streak. It was a great race for many reasons- it was in Myrtle Beach, it was on a holiday with lots of patriotism in the air, I scored an unexpected PR, and last but definitely NOT least, I finally beat my hubby in a competitive 5K!
The last time I raced in Myrtle Beach it did not end well. I really wanted to have a strong performance in this race, so I could start replacing the memories of my marathon DNF back in February with some positive ones. However, I wasn’t sure how this race would go. I knew I had the flat terrain in my favor since I am so used to running hills, but it is HOT and very humid in South Carolina in July, so I knew that would be a big factor. Luckily, the weather where I live in Virginia has been pretty brutal since before summer even officially started, so I think my body has had a lot of time to acclimate to it. I figured I would go out hard and see what happened!
This race was also special because months ago Kevin challenged me in a 5K, claiming I couldn’t beat him. This was going to be our day to compete and he was feeling pretty confident. Here were the facts going into this race:
- The last 5K that Kevin raced was on 5/31/14 and he finished in 24:29 (7:53 pace). His current PR is 21:28 (6:54 pace) and that was on 10/22/11.
- The last 5K that I raced was on 5/26/14 and I finished in 22:59 (7:24 pace). My current PR is 22:07 (7:07 pace) and that was on 3/23/14.
- We’ve both been participating in the Runner’s World Summer Run Streak and the day of the race is day 42 for me, day 41 for him. His runs during the streak have been in the 7:30 – 8:45 pace range and mine have been in the 8:30 – 9:45 range. Neither of us have done much speedwork during this time since it’s been so hot.
- He has been averaging 13 miles a week and I’ve been averaging 25.
- In the last two months he’s lost 20 pounds and I have lost 5.
Interesting, right?! I knew it was going to be a tough one, but I was ready and willing to fight for it.
We arrived at the start around 6:15 before the 7 a.m. start. I jumped into the porta-potty line and Kevin went to pick up our race materials. It was kind of a crazy scene, since they had to cancel packet pickup the day before the race due to Hurricane Arthur that came through. After waiting in our respective lines for a while we were finally ready to run. It was a beautiful morning and didn’t feel too warm at all yet, which was great! We also ran into our friends James and Chanda, who happened to be visiting family like we were and were running the 8K race.
We made our way around the lake to the start line and tried to get towards the front. I didn’t want to have to fight through the crowd before getting into my running groove.
Before I knew it we were off and running. Kevin quickly got ahead of me but was only about 10 feet in front of me. My goal was to stick as close to him as I could. I knew his strength is speed over endurance and mine is endurance over speed, so I was hoping if I hung on long enough I could catch and overtake him.
The first mile felt pretty good. I was running a pace in the low 7 minute mile range and holding there didn’t feel too difficult. I made a conscious effort to try to keep my body relaxed and not expend too much energy too early in the race, since I always make that mistake even in short races like 5Ks. I believe my first mile beeped in at 7:06, and I was really happy with that since my current PR was at a 7:07 pace. I started to wonder if I could possibly get a new one today.
As I began the second mile I began to really feel how thick the air was. Even though it wasn’t super hot yet it was REALLY humid. The humidity made it hard to breathe deeply and my body started to get tired quickly. I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with Kevin and the pace he was going, but around the halfway point he slowed down and started walking. As I passed him he told me he wasn’t feeling well and the humidity was making it worse. For a (very) brief second I considered slowing down and running with him because I felt bad, but my competitive side got the best of me and I went ahead. He tried his best to pick it back up but eventually he fell too far behind. My second mile beeped at a slower pace than the first, but being in front of Kevin gave me a boost of energy that I needed badly!
Once I realized that I was most likely going to accomplish my goal of beating Kevin I started wondering again if I could accomplish another goal of getting a new 5K PR. I tried as hard as I could to pick it up a little for the last mile and I did, until I got a bad cramp and had to walk around mile 2.5. I was so frustrated!! After about 30 seconds I started running again and tried to finish strong. When I rounded the bend and saw that the clock said 21 minutes I was shocked. I hadn’t been looking at my Garmin very much because I didn’t want to waste energy. My old PR was 22:07, and I made it my mission to get to that finish line in under 22 minutes.
I finished in 21:55. Average pace of 7:04. 3rd female overall. What!?!?!
After chugging down a whole bottle of water and trying to catch my breath, I went back to the finish line to wait for Kevin. He came through a little over 24 minutes.
He was pretty disappointed, not that I beat him but more that he thought he would be able to perform better. He has been working on building up his running base again after not running much this past year. He has done awesome with the running streak and was feeling stronger than ever after losing 20 pounds, but he just wasn’t feeling great on this day. I told him not to be discouraged and to think of it as motivation to train hard for his goal 5K race this fall. I know he will do amazing and be back to his naturally speedy self 🙂
After recovering for a few minutes we walked across a bridge to where the 8K runners were coming through to see James and Chanda. As I was watching everyone struggle in the heat I was SO GLAD we did the 5K instead of the 8K. Temperatures and humidity were both rising quickly and I could tell a lot of people were having a hard time. James ran by first and Chanda was just about a minute behind him. We cheered them on and then went back across the bridge to wait for them by the finish line.
They both came in at under 50 minutes, which was awesome! James and Chanda have come so far in their running since they started last year. They both did their first half marathons this past February in Myrtle Beach while we were there, and they are now training for another half in the fall. Did I mention they did the running streak too? Yay for fellow streakers! I’m very proud of both of them!
After hanging out and chatting for a while I went to receive my award for being the 3rd overall female. I’ve won some awards at super small races before but never in one of this size (about 700 runners). It was very exciting 🙂
The Independence Day 5K was an awesome experience that allowed me to accomplish not just one, but two of my big goals – beating my hubby and running a 5K in under 22 minutes. Two things I never thought were possible!
And just for fun- here is a picture from our 4th of July races, 2012 vs. 2014. Two years ago I was 28 weeks pregnant and ran a 5K in 31:39, a 10:12 average pace. Running while pregnant felt great and made me happy no matter what the pace was, but I always wondered if I would ever get my speed back after having a baby. This year I ran a 5K in 21:55, a 7:04 pace and almost 10 minutes faster than two years ago. It took a LOT of hard work, patience, and time, but I have gotten my speed back and then some. I have learned many lessons throughout the past two years of parenthood but one of the biggest ones is never to doubt myself and what I am capable of, and believe that I have the strength to accomplish whatever I set my mind to- as a runner, mommy, wife, teacher, coach, and any other role I take on in life.
Now the big question is… what’s next? 🙂