This race served as a fitness test for me in my first week of Ironman training. I was excited to see what kind of speed I would have coming off of a marathon training plan. I had a great run at a great race, and I was happy with my fitness!
As I get older (or maybe just wiser), I find that I benefit from a longer warm-up. It may be that I was just too lazy in past years to take 15-20 minutes for preparation. I could get away with it in my early twenties. Now that I'm approaching thirty, I'm more mindful of how my body feels, and my body feels better when I take at least 15 minutes to warm up.
That said, I ran the 1.2 miles to my closest Metro station and took the train to Crystal City. I picked up my packet, stopped in at Crystal City Sport & Health (right next to the start line, thank you very much) to pin my number and have a drink, and then took another 1.2 miles to warm up. My left ankle felt tight on the inner side, just behind the ankle bone (I think these are annular ligaments that are tight and cranky from all of my ankle injuries last season). It loosened up within a few minutes, though, so I wasn't too worried.
Standing on the start line, I felt nervous. I haven't run hard and fast in many months. I remember, though, that 5ks hurt, and I was not excited about the 30 minutes of pain. I think I seeded myself well, since I didn't have to pass very many slower runners early on. And, considering the tight quarters, the pack thinned out relatively quickly.
I bought a Garmin 910XT with the leftover budget from my bike purchase; this was my first race using my new GPS watch. I ran by heart rate, trying to keep it under 170 BPM for the first mile, then shooting for around 173 BPM until the last half mile. After that, I let 'er rip, and ended up at a full (probably ugly) sprint across the line. Finished in 27:26, and didn't throw up! But it was a close call.
There was one woman who ran near me the whole time. She was probably 20 years older than me, with a similar build, wearing an Ironman cap with green stripes. We went back and forth through the whole race. For a while, I was running behind her and we were perfectly in step, stride-for-stride. I passed her with a little over a quarter mile to go, and held her off until the end. After I got a water bottle and established that I wasn't going to puke, I started looking for her. She found me first, though, and we chatted about our race together. Thanks, lady in the green cap, for pushing me to run my very best! If you ever need a running buddy, call me!
The other person I saw on-course who really impressed me: There was a woman, probably a new mother I assume , heavy-set in the way that new mothers often are. She was almost at the very back of the race, probably only half a dozen people behind her; I passed her as I was heading the opposite way, towards the finish line. She was pushing her baby in its stroller, wearing blue spandex tights, a cute, turquoise shirt, and a floppy, sparkly tutu. She had a huge smile on her face, as she walked along the race course. She looked so proud and happy to be doing this 5k. So good for you, mom with the sparkly, blue skirt, and congratulations on your 5k!
I enjoyed this race. It had a great feel to it, and it was cool to run on the roads of Crystal City, which had been closed to traffic for this race. There was an exciting mix of people: strong, fit runners, walkers doing their first-ever event, an older women (late 70s, maybe?) wearing salmon-colored jeans and a nice sweater, the mom with her sparkly tutu, and a bunch of middle-of-the-pack runners like me. Everyone seemed excited to be there, and the race was well-organized. I would definitely do this race again. In fact, I might sign up for another one! They run every Friday through the end of April. So let me know if you're going to do one, and maybe I'll see you there!