One of the best ways to measure improvement in speed is to run the same race again and again and again and again. The Pacer’s Lost Dog 5K Series helped me do exactly just that this August. I blogged about this race last year and was very excited that I would be able to make all four races this year–every Friday at 6:30 pm in Arlington, VA.
Here are the highlights:
Week One: Our group that ran last year was reunited! My friends Nicole and Omar, Nancy and Eric, and Nicole all were there and were pumped to have some good and fun races, play with cute puppies, and complete the evening with dinner and drinks at the Stray Cats Café. This week I decided to enjoy the race and not go for speed.
FINISH TIME: 25:48 (8:18 pace, 6th place out of 61 runners in age group, 53rd place out of 228 runners)
Week Two: My parents were in town this weekend and came out to cheer us on! It was fun to have them meet some of my run buds (and they took some great pictures). Well the stars must have been aligned that night and I ran my fastest 5K time ever (topping my best 5K from last year’s series). I felt strong on the run and for the first time ever in a race I won a prize! I received the Top Finisher award for my age group (30-39 year old women). Luckily the overall female finisher (each week she won no less) was in my age group, but since prizes went one deep I got to claim the Top Finisher award. It was pretty funny when my name was called because my friends and family let out a huge cheer. I felt like quite the celebrity!
FINISH TIME: 22:14 (7:19 pace, 2nd place out of 52 runners in age group, 16th place out of 180 runners overall)
Week Three: Thoughts were going through my head before this race–Do I try to reclaim victory or just run? I knew that my triathlon was on Sunday (more to come soon on that race) so part of me felt like I should reserve some speed for that morning. But my competitive spirit got the better of me (and my friends literally pushed me to the front of the start line). So I guess I should try to best myself. Soon enough we were off. For most of the race I stayed close to one woman and before the halfway point I passed her on the trail. As we made the loop back I saw my friends and they yelled to keep up the good work. I was in third place so far for the females. I was going fast, probably too fast for my own good, and the woman I passed earlier caught me on the last quarter-mile. The finish line was in sight, but I didn’t have the stamina to kick it into high gear so I had to settle for fourth overall woman. As soon as I crossed the finish and grabbed a bottle of water I had to sit down for a minute or two. Whew I don’t think I had ever run that fast in my life! I went to check my finish time and I beat my time from the week before! New PR and despite getting passed at the end I still won my age group! Two in a row–I couldn’t believe it!
FINISH TIME: 22:18 (7:11 pace, 2nd place out of 58 runners in age group, 20th place out of 175 runners overall)
Week Four: It’s the last race! The hottest evening of all the races and I could tell that none of us were much in the mood for running! I still managed to creep up to the front of the start line. Someone was snapping pictures of all the “elites” in front of me. I quote elites because this race is really more like a community run and those who win, while incredibly fast, would most likely not win a race of much larger proportion. Maybe I’m just speaking for myself–haha—I would NOT win a race of much larger proportion! Smaller races give you a chance to shine and in my mind the overall top finishers were very much elite runners. So photos were being snapped and I felt a bit like an imposter standing there in their shadows. Nonetheless, it was time to run a race! The horn was blown and we were off! I started off strong and was very much toward the front of the pack, but at about the halfway point I knew I wasn’t going to get a prize this week (sad face). Too many women were passing me and a lot of them looked like they were in my age group! So I decided it was time to just finish the race strong and enjoy this last end of summer run, sweaty and happy!
FINISH TIME: 23:25 (7:32 pace, 4th place out of 35 runners in age group, 19th place out of 144 runners overall)
Like I said at the beginning the only way to truly know how your speed is improving is to measure yourself over the same distance, and a race like this is a great way to see how far you’ve come and to challenge yourself week after week! Since I ran all four races here are my overall stats:
TOTAL FINISH TIME LOST DOG 2014: 1:34:13 (10th place out of 58 runners overall)
Winning races is fun and beating your personal record is always a pretty awesome feeling (especially as we get older!). But I’ve also realized that those feelings are only fleeting and that keeping humble is important, otherwise we are never going to enjoy the journey it took to get there. I’ll leave my readers with these words to live by:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.
-Philippians 2:3 NIV
See ya’ll next year! Maybe, just maybe, next year I’ll have a pup to pull me along!