I Did It All For the Boobies, Or, How I PR’ed at the B.A.A. 5K

Dear loyal readers,

Well, it’s certainly been a while since I’ve posted anything, mostly because I haven’t had anything worth posting and I figured I’d save you from reading something I barely considered worth writing.  However, that’s all changed as of this morning.  As many of you likely know, for the past month and a half I’ve embarked on raising $500 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which does tremendous work for breast cancer.  As an incentive to get donations, I promised that I would wear a running skirt during the BAA 5K if I could raise that amount.  Almost exclusively through the use of Twitter (where you can find me as @milesandtrials), I was able to raise a little bit over my goal, raising $520.40 total.  I have to say I’m completely blown away by the generosity of quasi-strangers and am very grateful for your support.  Also very deserving of thanks are Marathon Sports (http://www.marathonsports.com/), particularly Nick, and Brooks Running who combined to donate the outfit I wore.  Here is a picture of the back of the shirt that I wore, featuring the names of loved ones of my supporters:

So, now on to the race, to get the suspense over with, here’s a picture of me in my final race outfit:

Because we got a late start out the door this morning I drove like a madman into the city, already setting a PR for that drive.  I’ll spare you the gory details, but this was not a pretty GI morning, which had me rather anxious about how I would actually be during the race.  In fact, I have been rather anxious about the race in general for about a week.  I still felt like I was coming back from a lousy couple of weeks with hardly any training and have been feeling “heavier than my ideal race weight,” to put it mildly.  When asked this morning by a stranger in the elevator whether I was going for a PR today, I simply said that I was looking to have fun and did not expect anything big (note the use of foreshadowing).

The race itself went through the heart of downtown Boston, starting in Copley Square, going around Boston Common and then looping back to take a left (as opposed to the Marathon’s right) onto Hereford St. and finishing by crossing the Marathon’s finish line, which is pretty cool even for a 5K.  I made it to the start line with about 10 minutes to go and immediately needed to find a port-o-potty for the third time in 10 minutes.  Before any race I always find I have to go, regardless of any liquid I may or may not have had since the last time.  However, with no port-o-potties in sight and being hemmed in by metal barriers, I figured I’d have to just grit my teeth and bear it.

Trying to be a conscientious runner, I lined myself up at the anticipated 7 minute mile pace corral.  You could sense antsiness amongst the runners while the announcer went through introducing the distinguished guests, including Boston Billy Rogers.  Of course, I was very silly for hoping that everyone would be doing the right thing and lining up where they should have been.  As a result, I found myself struggling to cut through children, walkers, and slow runners while trying to hit my stride.  The need to “go” was so bad within the first half-mile that I considered veering off course at every alley, but the feeling went away eventually and I was able to think more about running than peeing.

My race plan was to try to take it relatively easy for the first mile so I could gauge how I felt and not die, like I always do.  I thought maybe a 7:15 first mile would set me up nicely.  Fail.  I glanced down at my watch at the first mile marker, which was located at the only “hill” on the course, going up Beacon Hill, before turning to the only downhill, and found I had gone through mile 1 in 6:54.  Ugh.  I thought that would be the death of me, that I’d never be able to recover.  Well, I was wrong.

Shockingly, I went through Mile 2 in 6:50, aided by the aforementioned downhill portion, but including 2 tight turns.  It was at this point that I really felt myself laboring.  Having made it this far though, I thought that I might be able to gut through 1.1 more miles without my usual slowing down and quasi-quitting.  I always know exactly when I take my foot off the gas and let myself slow down.  This race, whenever I felt like doing that I did two things: 1. I focused on quickening my turnover, which always makes me feel like I’m being propelled forward, and 2. I made up a new mantra, “There is no slow, there is only running.”  Through this mantra, I was able to convince myself that going slow was simply not an option.  As a result, of these adjustments, I went through mile 3 in 6:52.  Seeing the finish line in the distance, I took my mind back to every treadmill run I do where I add an increased speed kick for the last minute of every workout and knew that I could find one final gear to surge into to make it to the finish.

The end result?  An official time of 21:15, good for a nearly 30 second PR from what I ran a little under a year ago.  Maybe it was the lowered expectations and my desire to not waste a good start that led to it, or maybe I was just in better shape than I thought, but either way I was floating at the finish line.

Lessons learned from this race?  First of all, I have to say I liked running in the running skirt.  No, I’m not going to make a habit of it, but it was pretty comfortable.  This was also my first time running in arm warmers, courtesy of Brooks ID, and will definitely make more use of them in the future.  But, gear aside, I learned that I can push through pain and adversity when I dig deep and convince myself that things aren’t as bad as they feel.  I hope to carry that lesson with me in the future, both in training and in races.

Happy trails to you.


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