Friday, June 10, 2011

Personal records..friend or foe?

Side note: I have been trying to write this post for weeks!  I am so behind on the blog it's ridiculous!  This is my take on the importance of personal records.  I hope you enjoy it!

Personal records.  Up until recently I hadn't put a lot of stock in such a thing.  When I started running I did not envision personal records being important to me.  I just wanted to stay alive!  About a month ago I ran my first 5K "alone".  Up until this race I had done all of the other ones with my bestie Melissa.  She was unavailable for this one but my aunt was running it so I thought I would be okay.  My aunt has been running for a lot longer than I have so I was not going to actually run side by side with her but it was fun to hang out before the run.  My uncle was there too - he's a great supporter of my aunt (and me)! 

My aunt and I ran the Lucky 13 5K in Mendota Heights.  When I woke up the morning of the race, it was raining - shocking!  It had rained or was cold for every other race I had done - so it was no big surprise.  We hung out in the pub until the start - it was nice to stay dry before the race started.  The race was in support of breast cancer and all the money went to the Susan G Komen - one of my many favorite charities. 

The race was not a huge one - but enough people to have some "fast" runners and some walk/run folks as well.  It was a good mix.  My aunt and I lined up about half way back from the start line.  This was not a chip timed race so I made sure to start my Polar when I crossed the official start so I would know my exact time at the finish line.  There was a light drizzle and it was cool but I knew by the one mile mark it would be just fine.  The race was an out and back on the trail overlooking the river so it was a nice scenic run if nothing else. 
My aunt started out faster than me which I fully expected and made sure she knew that I expected it.  I didn't want her thinking she had to slow herself down to hang with me!  We got about half mile in to the race and I could still see my aunt up ahead of me.  At that point I decided that if I was able to keep her within my eyesight and about that same distance from me I would probably make pretty good time.  I could feel that my pace was a little quick but it felt okay so I kept with it.  I recall getting to a point where I could see the turn around (there was a water stop there) and I could see my aunt turn the corner and come running back toward me.  It was so great, I knew that I was making good time when I looked down at my Polar after I made the turn (no water for me during a 5K). 
I think it was about the 2.5 mile mark that an older gentleman came up from behind me and used me as his new pacer!  He started running right next to me and he sounded like he was hurting.  He was breathing real deep and seemed like he was as ready as I was for the race to be over!  We got to the road to cross where the cops were and I could hear and slightly see the finish line so I knew it was time to turn it up a notch.  I had lost sight of my aunt as she went over the hill but I knew I was still in good shape.  As I got closer to the finish line I started to be able to make out the finish clock.  Did that say 26 minutes?  I could not believe my eyes so I glanced down at my watch and sure enough the time was right.  As I got closer and could hear everyone cheering I turned on the jets and made my close to the finish line.  As I crossed the finish I looked over at the clock and it read 27:11!!!!  Again, looked at my watch and confirmed that their clock was not malfunctioning!  My aunt and uncle were there at the finish cheering me on! 
Previously I had not done a 5K in less than 30 minutes.  So, I basically shaved 2.5 minutes off my previous best time.  And that my friends is a 9 minute mile!  What the heck!  I think I was possessed or something during this run because I could not believe that I had just run a sub 30 minute 5K race.  My aunt also broke her previous best time that morning as well. 
Before I ran this race with my aunt I had never focused on finding my pace with another runner.  In every other race I had just focused on finishing - ALIVE!  It felt really good knowing I had a little bit extra in me.  I never realized that I was holding back or not pushing myself hard enough until that day. 

My aunt Jeanne and I after the race

Jeanne and I after the race!
So, now I am a big fan of personal records.  Beating a personal record is another way to show yourself that you are putting in the work and the work is paying off.  I know that I will not always be able to run a 9 minute mile, but I know that I can and for me that is enough to keep me motivated and ready to push myself.  Bring on the next race!  (I have done another 5K since this race happened and finished at 28:38 - another sub 30!)

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