Anthem 5K Fitness Classic – Louisville, KY (March 9, 2013)

Me just after crossing the finish line of the Anthem 5K Fitness Classic - Louisville, Kentucky

Me just after crossing the finish line of the Anthem 5K Fitness Classic – Louisville, Kentucky

Race: Anthem 5K Fitness Classic

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: March 9, 2013

Time: 22:41

Make a note of that time!  Please!  Because I just ran my first sub-23 minute 5K.  And that, my dearest friends, is something to celebrate!

This race was not easy.  Well, technically, it was…for most runners.  But most runners weren’t up past midnight the night before at a concert.  Pink was in town and I wasn’t going to miss that show for anything.  Knowing that I had the race that I needed to be up early for the following day meant, as I told my roommate, I was going to take this one easy.  Run at a comfortable pace.  Not worry about time.

And that was exactly what I did.

My alarm went off way too early for my liking on race morning.  I mean, when you crawl into bed just before 1 a.m., the last thing you want to do is crawl back out of bed at 5 a.m. to get dressed and eat something before driving into Louisville to run.  I mean, I love running more than a lot of things in this world…but I was not happy to be awake that early.

Oh…and my company decided they would sponsor me as a runner.  Bought me some shiny new running clothes and everything with the company logo.  I promised the company president that I would debut the uniform at the Anthem 5K.  The problem was…while the afternoon was supposed to be in the 60s temperature-wise…the morning was in the low 30s.  But, true to my word, I put on my compression socks, donned my new running skirt, and put on my new running t-shirt as well.  I laced up, threw on some arm warmers, and chose a BondiBand for the occasion: “Pain is Temporary, Pride is Forever.”  It was painful being awake that early on so little sleep…which was why I chose it.

I managed to get just about everything done, including pulling my hair up and putting in my hair extensions, and then brewing some hot coffee, just before my roommate shambled out of bed about an hour later.  Yeah…I was moving slowly.  Hare I was not…totally tortoise.

Breakfast was simple.  My cup of coffee and a little bit of water.  And my gluten-free cereal with a bit of almond milk.  I ate that slowly and carefully, not wanting to just cause an unhappy stomach by eating too quickly.  I sipped on the coffee, got up, washed dishes and went to brush my teeth.

Getting my change of clothes together, I tossed it all in my run bag and threw on a pair of pants to wear over the running skirt so that my legs would be warm up until I really needed to stand at the start line.  My roomie pinned on my bib and I threw on my jacket and grabbed some gloves.  It was time to head out to the race.

Stepping outside I was already not fond of the fact that I was going to be running in a skirt and not something warmer…like my tights.  But, it was time to suck it up (gluten-free) cupcake and be a real runner.  LOL!  Okay…real runners come in all sorts of weather tolerances…and I just happen to dislike being cold.  I run in it…quite often…but it doesn’t mean I like to.  And today…no layers.  Last year, when I ran the Anthem 5K, I was in shorts and a long sleeve tech shirt with my running jacket over it.  I know…shorts made no sense.  I didn’t realize it was that cold.  This year…no jacket.  No long-sleeves.  Arm warmers.  I was all about the arm warmers.

Anyway, the drive to Louisville was easy.  We took the exit to get to Slugger Field and paid $5.00 for a parking spot across the street.  We threw a couple things in the trunk and then trudged into Slugger Field to find a spot out of the way and wait for the race to get close to starting.  This was what we do with every race that starts there…because it is usually on colder mornings and it’s nice and warm inside.  There were a lot of runners and walkers milling about, but I found a spot against the wall to stand and relax…and get some stretching in.  I tried not to half-ass the stretching as I wasn’t out in the cold…and I knew with the cold air, getting those muscles warmed up was important.  So, I did put some work into it.

I finally decided it was time to let the legs get a little acclimated to the air from the doors that were opening and closing that lead to the great outdoors.  So, I shed the pants and handed them to Cathy…who tried to figure out what to do with them and then decided to use them as a scarf.  Hey…it worked.

A little more stretching and we noticed more people were heading outside, so with about 15 minutes to start time…we headed that way too.

And ran into Kelsie!  YAY!  We gave hugs and stood around to chat for a little bit about the race and sunglasses and Disney.  Kelsie is so awesome, so I was happy to have run into her in the sea of humanity over at Slugger Field.  We wished each other luck, said to have fun, and went our separate ways.

There were a lot of people already lining up for the start of the race.  There were even more people waiting in line at the port-a-potties…but that’s rather typical.  Cathy and I started to maneuver through the crowd, working our way up to what might be a good place for me to stand while waiting on the official start of the race.  I stopped a good distance back…but Cathy told me to move up more.  LOL!  I guess she was feeling more optimistic than I was.  I ended up standing next to two older gentlemen who were some of the funniest people I met.  They said that they were here to make the rest of the 8,998 runners look good.  And they made jokes pretty much the entire time, save for when the National Anthem played, about 10 minutes before the official start.

I shed my fleece jacket…although not wanting to…and handed them over to Cathy.  She gave me a hug and wished me luck.  And then…she was gone.  Swallowed up by the throng of people on the sidelines.  We had discussed earlier that she would try to get a spot on the right hand side for the start and on the left for the finish…so I at least had an idea of where to look for her when I headed out and when I came in at the end.

I jogged in place, jumped up and down, did some butt kickers, and just did my best to keep those muscles in my legs loose and warmed up.  They were not feeling the cold air that morning…at all.

Now, apparently we had a wheelchair racer, who didn’t get an official start…but they did send him off before everyone else started.  And then…before I knew it…the countdown to the start of the 2013 Anthem 5K Fitness Classic was underway.  A airhorn blast…and we were off.

It took me a minute or two to actually get up to the starting line.  I started my Garmin as I crossed, noticed Cathy and gave a wave of a hand…and I was off.

Zen was the name of this race.  Like I said…I was running (literally) on very little sleep.  But, you know how it is with races…you just sort of get caught up in the moment.  You get excited…because everyone is excited around you.  There are people cheering on the sides, runners running at different paces, some talking, some blaring music in their ears, some just trying to keep up with the crowd.

And here I found myself zigging and zagging through all of these people for open spots.  I was moving forward.  Onward.  Ever onward.

Before I knew it…Mile 1 reeled by.  I was taking it easy…for me in a race.  The clock on the mile marker told me that much at least.  But I forgot that it took me about a minute or so to actually get to the start line and officially start.  I don’t think of these things when I’m running.  I used to focus on the music I listen to…but I’ve stopped wearing my iPod during races as well, finding that I actually do run better without music.  Go figure.

One mile down…two more to go.

I was feeling good.  I was still moving forward and even finding my little rabbits in the group of runners.  My little game to get my feet moving.  Find a runner…and tell myself I will pass them.  Then make sure they don’t pass me again.  This race was HUGE so there was no shortage of little rabbits for me to select.  And I continued to push onward.  I followed the crowd around corners, through the streets, and even up a tiny little hill, which didn’t even slow me down.

And soon…Mile 2 was behind me.

One more mile to go.  And I could almost taste the finish.  I’ve been working hard, while running, on strong finishes.  No matter if it’s early in the morning or on my longer runs, I always try to finish strong, even on tired legs.  Even on days I run twice.  Even on the dreadmill.  I do whatever I can to make sure my legs, when they are feeling the most tired, learn that on that last mile, I am going to work them harder than before.  Because while I am not a sprinter and you won’t see me flailing towards the finish line, I love that rush when I push just a bit more than I thought I could and cross that finish line.

The last mile took us down Main Street and back towards Slugger Field.  About halfway there I could hear the crowd…hear the music.  I could taste that finish line.  I headed under the overpass and I could see the finish line straight ahead.  I pumped my feet hard, I pushed, and it came closer and closer…

And as I crossed it, I paused my Garmin…just feeling good about that run.  Never once did I focus on time or pace.  Not once did I even dwell on it.  I ran this entire race by feel…and it felt amazing.  It was only then that I glanced down at my Garmin and noted the time.

22:42 seconds.  I double checked the miles…and my Garmin showed 3.14 miles.  HOLY RUNNING COW!

Cathy was easy to spot with the sign.  She was cheering and screaming at me.  I hurried over to her…and showed her my Garmin.  I was in shock.  I felt awesome.  I felt invincible.  I struck my finisher’s pose right there in the finish line area.  And then, we decided I should move through the crowd and get some water and a banana.  Cathy would meet me in the recovery area.

Which she did…as I was staring at bananas, trying to find one with enough green to make me happy but not be under ripe.  I am very picky about the state of ripeness of my bananas.  Trust me.  I asked Cathy for my phone, because I suddenly remembered that I signed up for runner tracking so I could get my official time just after finishing the race.  I pulled up my text messages and there it was…

22:41.  Twenty-two minutes and forty-one seconds.

Pardon the happy dance.

Me feeling strong and awesome after the Anthem 5K Fitness Classic

Me feeling strong and awesome after the Anthem 5K Fitness Classic

The Anthem 5K runs on a fast and relatively flat course.  Despite the cold air and a tired body, I managed to pull off my fastest 5K time to date.  And it was sub-23 minutes!  I felt like I was on top of the world.  A new PR…and I wasn’t even trying.

I don’t know if it’s because I love running so much and just forget, at times, that I am running.  But I once again had some wings on my ankles Saturday morning and I pulled a race time off that I never would have dreamed was actually possible…for me.

So, the official results of the Anthem 5K Fitness Classic  are that I finished in 22:41.  Still shocked.  I was 510/7800 finishers.  WOOHOO!  In addition, I was the 77/4,482 women finishers.  And, I was 18/737 in my age division.  I couldn’t be happier with these results.  I couldn’t be prouder.

I guess, sometimes, the key to having your best run is not to focus at all on the act of running.  Run with your heart.  Because, if you truly love the sport…if you are doing it for selfless, not selfish reasons, then…you just sort of get caught up in it.  And nothing else matters at that moment.  You just feel it…with every stride, every breath, every bend in the road.  The road truly does rise up to meet your feet.  A simple push, some forward movement, and before you know it…it’s over.  And it felt good.  It felt really good.

This race should not have gone this well for me.  But every moment of it…felt amazing.

And now I can’t wait to do it again next year!

(P.S. – I hope my sponsors are proud of me!)


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