Frostbite 5K – Louisville, KY (January 12, 2013)

Me crossing the finish line of the Frostbite 5K - Louisville, Kentucky

Me crossing the finish line of the Frostbite 5K – Louisville, Kentucky

Race: Frostbite 5K

Place: Louisville, KY

Date: January 12, 2013

Time: 23:45

I ended my racing season last year with a new PR…and in return, I began my 2013 season with a new PR.  How’s that for symmetry?

Needless to say…I shocked myself with that time.  I honestly did.

The night leading up to the race was, as usual, restless.  I wasn’t thinking about running…I just was having a difficult time staying asleep.  This actually has been happening most nights these days and I don’t really have a reason for it.  It just…is.  So, when my alarm was set to go off at 6:00 a.m., I was already awake and dressed.

My running outfit of choice for this race…is not what you would expect from a race called the Frostbite 5K.  It was to be 61 degrees at the start of the race…so I was dressed in a new running skirt and a singlet for the run.  Knowing that this was taking place in Cherokee Park, I donned my “Beat The Hill” BondiBand and laced up my shoes.  On went my Road ID and my Garmin.  I was ready…and tired.

And I hate being tired on race day.

My roomie’s alarm went off at 7:00 a.m.  I had cereal prepped for each of us for breakfast and had a Lärabar Über for us to split about 40 minutes before I took off on the run so I wouldn’t be starving at the start or in the middle of the run.  Nothing messes with your concentration more than hunger pangs.  We were out the door in record time for us and heading over the river to Cherokee Park to hopefully find decent parking and hit up packet pick-up.

Well, the parking thing was a bust.  Despite arriving over an hour prior to the start of the race, we were parked all the way up a winding hill near the rugby field in the park.  It was a hike down to packet pick-up, where I received my race bib, my safety pins, and the long sleeve tech shirt I got for being one of the first 1000 to sign up for the run.  Awesome.  And then…the hike back up to the car followed to put the t-shirt away, tuck away our bags, and get pinned up.  Not so awesome.  But, we managed.  I looked at it as a warm up if nothing else.

Pinned up and now ready for the run, Cathy and I braved the descent down the hill once more and decided to take a walk up the road.  We thought it would be okay, as it seemed the police already closed the park.  But, alas, it was not.  The police moved their vehicles and traffic began to flow through once more.  So, we headed back to where the start line was being set up, found a spot for her to position herself for the race, and I started a few minor stretches.

At some point, we did split the Lärabar…and thankfully it was quite tasty.  We ran into Tammy and Paul Marvin, who we happen to find at most of the races we go to, not just in Louisville, but also in Hershey, Pennsylvania and New Albany, Indiana.  Love friendly, familiar faces.  We always have a nice conversation with them and it’s always nice to greet them, wave, and wish them luck.  It seems to be a good omen to see them at the race.  And they say they always look for my sign, which is awesome too!

I got in a little more stretching and then shed my hoodie before finishing that up.  It was then that I thought I felt some sprinkles of rain on my arms.  I asked the roomie if she felt it…but said she didn’t.  I swore I could still feel it…but maybe I was mistaken.  She gave me a hug and wished me luck and I went to join the slew of people lining behind the start line, which also doubled as the finish line, for the race.  I got my iPod Nano tucked into the pocket of my shirt and found a good spot to stand when the rain came.

Yep.  Another wet race, it seemed, was upon us.  I sighed, removed my earbuds and walked my iPod back to where Cathy was standing, handing it over as I won’t run in the rain with it without my waterproof arm band to tuck it in.  And I wasn’t expecting rain this early (nor were any of the other runners) so I didn’t have it with me.  With the rain coming down in a light drizzle, I headed back to where I was standing and sandwiched my way between a couple of people for the spot I had originally staked out as my own.

It was here, in the rain, just before the start of the race, that I bonded with a few runners over the weather.  Most of us had endured the Reindeer Romp in the pouring rain and now, it seemed, we were about to undertake the same sort of weather in the second race of the Polar Bear Grand Prix.  Joy.

And as the race was started off with a “On your mark…get set…GO!” shouted from River City Races director (who didn’t have her bullhorn that morning), we all took off in the drizzle past the rugby field and the people standing around to cheer everyone on and headed for the first turn, which would immediately take us up the “never-ending” hill…Baringer Hill (known by all who go there as Dog Hill or Dog Walk Hill).  It was actually nice to have that out of the way so early, believe it or not.  My legs were fresh so I could push myself a little more without tiring out my legs too soon in the run.  It was about here that the rain completely stopped.

Go figure.

With that said, it was down a hill, then around the corner on the Scenic Loop to head up the other major hill in Cherokee Park, the one that leads up to Hogan’s Fountain.  No problem.  It was still early in the race.  Not even 2 miles in, so my legs were feeling good.  I felt like I was moving at a slower pace than usual, but I was feeling okay.  I was moving.  I was passing some people and keeping up with others that I sort of tagged to attempt to keep in my sights.

Down another hill and through the park we ran.  I know the Scenic Loop like the back of my hand.  It was interesting starting at a different point, but my legs know this terrain.  I run it often with my fun run group and sometimes on Saturday or Sunday when my roommate and I feel like getting out and moving.  I’ll do my long training runs there and she goes for a walk.  I was feeling good.  Still not feeling like I was moving swiftly, but I knew I was tired…so I wasn’t going to push too much.

Then, it was down a side road.  Here was the 2 mile mark and I watched as a woman in front of me began to walk.  Another runner, who had started at the front of the pack, shouted at her to keep going…she was almost there.  It is always nice to hear that sort of encouragement.  And the woman who began walking began to run again.  At least for a little while.  She returned to walking and I passed her and her encourager before we hit the turn around point.  With that done, it was back down the road on the other side, and finally back out to the scenic loop.

This was the home stretch.  I knew the rugby field was about .3 miles away, so I began to run a little bit harder…as much as I dared.  I never want to be one of those people who push too much and come short at the finish.  I want to be someone who tries as hard as I can…pushes as much as I dare…and come out as best as I can.

And wouldn’t you know it…I hit Mile 3 and pushed on for the last .14 miles of the race, coming across the finish line and catching sight of the clock just as I did so.  I paused my Garmin and moved out of the way of the runners who were behind me.  My roommate hurried over going, “You just ran sub-24 minutes!”  She was right.  I saw it when I crossed the finish line on the clock and my Garmin told the same story.

What in the world?  I honestly didn’t feel like I was moving that swiftly.  And, as I try to maintain these days, while I run with my Garmin, I try not to look at it during a race, less I obsess over my time and totally add unnecessary pressure.  I suddenly couldn’t stop smiling.  I didn’t care about anything else…I just ran my first 5K in under 24 minutes.  That never happened before.  And I was pretty damn proud of myself for finally achieving that.  A lot of early morning runs, time at the gym, yoga, and core work went into making that possible, I am certain.

With the race field being as big as it was, we weren’t completely sure that I placed, but decided to hang around for the awards ceremony regardless.  I grabbed a banana and some water and we went for a short stroll down one of the paved trails at Cherokee, before turning around and heading back.

Me with my 2nd place age division medal at the Frostbite 5K – Louisville, Kentucky

Me with my 2nd place age division medal at the Frostbite 5K – Louisville, Kentucky

As we found a clear spot to stand, and while we were just sort of talking, two local runners came over.  Dawn was the first to introduce herself.  She said she read my blog.  This, actually, made me really happy.  She introduced me to Matthew, who was with her, and who I had previously met as we ran together in the Mile2Mile run from the BlueMile store at the Summit to the one in the Highlands.  It was nice to stand around and talk with people prior to awards.

Once the final walker came in…it was award ceremony time.  We stood around and clapped for every name called for the overall winners as well as the age division winners.  One girl in the 20-24 age division limped up to get her award and them limped away.  I’ve been there, done that, and made  a sad face as it happens.  Here’s to a speedy recovery.

And then…something surprising happened.  My division was up and first place was called.  Then, for second place…I hear my name.  Oh. My. God.  I placed third in the Reindeer Romp and now second at the Frostbite 5K.  I couldn’t believe it.  Cathy, Dawn, and Matthew all cheered, which made me grin like a loon when I went up to accept my medal.  I had already been all smiles for my new PR…but now I was all smiles even more…because with the field as large as it was, I honestly didn’t think I placed at this race.

I love surprising myself.

So, as it stands, the official results of the Frostbite 5K are that I finished in 23:45, which is my new PR for a 5K race.  SO stoked!  Especially since this was done on hills (thankfully early) and while dead tired from a restless night.  That being said, I was 132/1020 finishers overall.  NICE!  I was the 20/539 women finishers.  And, as I mentioned, I was 2/74 in my division!  I am still so surprised by these results I feel like I need to pinch myself to convince myself I’m not dreaming.  Once more, I can honestly say all the hard work and dedication I’ve been putting into my training runs and running in general is paying off.  I am improving.

And here’s to hoping that the trend continues.  As it stands, as far as the Polar Bear Grand Prix overall results so far, before the final race, the Snowman Shuffle, I am holding 3rd place in the Overall Female Open Winners category.  While this is exciting, I am trying not to dwell on it less I put so much pressure on myself I set myself up for failure.  My goal for the Snowman Shuffle 4 Miler is to go out there and have fun and just run it as best as I can.  Winning awards isn’t why I do this.  I do this simply because I love it.

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