Sub 24 Conquered! Holiday Hustle 5K RR

32 degrees w/ a little wind (5-10 mph) and I couldn’t have been happier.  I was finally healthy for a 5K and I felt ready to tackle my first sub 24.  A little story for those who may not know yet, I’ve been chasing a sub 24 since last year.  The closest I had come was a 24:13 in May, running with a chest cold, coughing the whole way.  So. . . last night was to be my 1st attempt out of 3 to round out my racing year.

I convinced my mom to join me as my cheerleader.  I chose her for a few reasons.  I love having one/both of my parents there cheering for me.  They never missed a b-ball game or anything else that my sisters and I participated in.  It means a lot.  Also, since I would be running in as few clothes as comfortable, I knew I would really want my sweats right after I crossed the finish line.  The last reason, my mom was there when I ran my PR 10K (47:39) and my marathon PR (3:45:30)  Call me superstitious, but I’ll take any help I can get.

After packet pickup, my mom and I relaxed and chatted in a nearby coffee house.  Pure torture I tell you since I cannot drink coffee before I run.  Soon, it was time for one last potty stop and a few warmup striders and a short jog.  The one mile race began.  It was fun to get to watch the kids run.  So determined on getting to the finish were they.  The boy who came in first ran a 7 minute mile!!!  Impressive!

As the mile was wrapping up they had us begin to assemble in the starting corrals.  Per usual for a local 5K, no one was really lined up according to pace and I had trouble getting anywhere closer to the start than about middle of the pack.  I figured this may be a recipe for disaster, but the race is chip timed.  I’d just have to try not to weave too much and run all the tangents to avoid too much extra effort and extra mileage if I had hope of coming in sub 24.  Apparently, the race had began (never heard the official start) and soon I was crossing the timing mat.

It took a few steps to get moving and break through the crowd in front of me.  I tried as best as I could not to weave, but I was passing SO many people.  They were a blur as I flew past.  I figured I may have been going a little too fast (for me), but refused to look at “G” just yet.  I wasn’t winded and I felt strong, but it had only been 1/2 a mile.  Just when I was going good, I misstepped on an uneven piece of pavement trying to pass and almost fell on my face.  I gathered myself, passed and once I was in the open, I settled into a good pace and soon enough I heard the beep of “G.”  Mile 1 – 7:37

Mile 2 is where I almost always experience a mental wall during a 5K.  This race was no different.  I kept saying, “Keep going!  Relax and Breathe!”  I tried my best not to give into the mental wall.  My body started to listen to my brain, I think and I felt my pace slow.  My lungs/throat were on fire!  Finally I yelled (in my head) “FASTER!  KEEP GOING!”  Sure there were some rolling hills, but I just kept focusing on the XC girls up ahead of me and tried to “catch” them.  Toward the end of this mile we were directed onto a sidewalk.  What???  2×2 with a steep grassy hill to right and bushes/trees on the left.  As I was debating whether or not to pass the XC girls. . . Mile 2 – 7:55

Ah. . . pace was slowing again.  I glanced down about 3 seconds later and I saw a 9:30 for current lap pace!  What???  The girls must have slowed and this sidewalk stinks.  I had to make a move.  I surged up ahead passed the girls and stayed there until we exited the sidewalk and were back out running through the neighborhood.  A nice downhill here helped me to get my pace back down where I wanted it.  Though then coming up on 2.5 miles and there is the hill I saw on the course elevation chart.  Since I knew there was a downhill right after, I just maintained the same effort on the way up and knew I could make up a few seconds on the way down.  Then it was flat to the finish.  Mile 3 – 7:42

Just before the Mile 3 marker, we made our last turn.  I knew there was about .2 miles to the finish.  I started my “kick” here.  Then I heard my mom yell “GO ANG!!!”  And GO I did!  I saw the clock reading 24:xx and I wasn’t sure if I would break 24.  (I had my “G” on current lap pace only.  My goal was to stay around 7:40 each mile just in case I went a little further than 5K and I could concentrate on one mile at a time).  I crossed the finish w/ my best Bangle Pump and reached down to stop “G.”  Last 27 seconds were at 5:44 pace!!!

I fumbled to get my gloves off to read “G’s” total time as I was getting my chip clipped off.  Then I grabbed a water, still fumbling with the gloves, took a sip of water, and finally got a hand free to read. . . 23:42!!!  I did it!  HUGE SMILE!  I couldn’t believe it!  I finally finished a 5K sub 24!!!  I quickly found my mom, hugged her, and got my sweats on.  SO EXCITED!!!  We heading to the warming tent for some snacks then to the car to warm up a bit before the results were to be posted.  My mom thought that I may have a shot at top 5 in my age group, so we waited for the awards.

As it turned out, we got out of the car a little too late and missed my name being read.  But, I was able to get my ornament after the awards were finished for 3rd place in my age group out of 85, official time 23:41 (avg pace 7:38)!!!  45/707 – Females and 170/1121 Overall.  Still SO EXCITED!!!  My mom then treated me to dinner at Champs!  Yummy!  Greatest night EVER!  Well, maybe not ever, but it was pretty sweet!

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