I started 2013 off barely being able to run half a mile without stopping. Since then I’ve run 7 official 5K’s, 2 novelty 5K’s, and 1 virtual 5K, one officially timed 10K and one virtual 10K, two 10-milers, and a half-marathon. I’ve dropped by 5K time by 5 minutes. Today I ran what will be the last official 5K of my year and I couldn’t be happier with it.

I’ve been avoiding running outside ever since my half-marathon in November. I absolutely hate, hate, hate the cold and winter and I’ve been sticking to three to four miles on the treadmill a few times a week before starting my serious Charleston Half training tomorrow. I had anxiety about how to dress for cold runs and I was a little burnt out on training. So I didn’t think today was going to go well.

=PR= Running has a great series of races that include mostly 5K’s, a few 10K’s, and even fewer other distances (8K, ten miler) and their pin races are fun – you don’t get a medal for the 5K, but you can collect the pins and stick ’em on your official =PR= lanyard. The Run with Santa 5K gave us both a collectible pin and a Christmas tree ornament along with our long-sleeved technical shirt.

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Me and the boy

Because of my not so structured recent training and terrible recent eating habits, I didn’t have great aspirations about my time for today. On top of not running outside, I hadn’t run with inclines lately either, and Reston, VA is hilly. I was just happy to spend the morning with my beaux, who was running for the first time in like 8 years (he had been on his high school track team and dabbled for a little after that, but ultimately stopped when the competitive pressure made it no fun anymore). He had signed up because my excited and happy running chatter made him excited to get out there again, but he was nervous about how out of shape he might be for cardio.

=PR= race series always attracts a ton of people, and there were no fewer than 1600 people finishing today in Reston Town Center. RTC was beautifully decorated for Christmas, including a huge beautiful Christmas tree.

ImageWe were freezing our tuckuses off so after waiting out some of the time before the start in the Panera nearby, we went to the start line and hopped in place to try and stay warm waiting for the race to start.

It started snowing really hard just as the race was about to begin! A Santa-themed race in a steady snow? Even my bah humbug Grinch attitude toward the cold was kind of charmed by the snowglobe atmosphere. That is, until we started running.

Stephen and I agreed not to try and stay together, because we’d never run together before and neither of us wanted to hold the other one back, whoever was faster. That obviously turned out to be Stephen, the lanky, long-legged nerd. šŸ˜›

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With snow blowing into my eyes and mouth, I was cranky but determined to get it over with, so every time I thought about taking a walk interval, I knew that meant I’d just stay cold and it would take longer to finish, so except for 45 seconds in the final mile, I ran the whole race. The first mile went by super quick, even with the slight, steady uphill involved. I had to do a bit of weaving because we’d started out almost in the very far back of the starting queue.

The second mile had a rolling hill right at the start, and then wound around to a pretty steep uphill, but after that it was pretty smooth sailing and somehow I clocked the 2nd mile at 9:00 flat! The cold was rough on my lungs but I was surprised how quick the finish line came around. I guess after quite a few longer distance races, the 5K flies by now.

I knew my lackadaisical recent training and short walk break killed my chances of a sub-30, but my current PR was a 30:55. So when I hit the 3 mile mark at just over 29:30, I knew if I just kicked it up a little bit of a notch I could at least get under 30:55. I wasn’t sure, with the gun time on the clock and the few extra seconds it took me to stop my tracker, exactly what my official time was, but I didn’t think it was a PR.

But I was wrong! As Stephen walked off the soreness of his legs (he may have beaten me by a minute and a half or so but the poor guy was in a lot of hamstring and calf pain afterward – looks like someone needs to run with me more regularly!) I anxiously waited for the times to be posted. When I saw that my name wasn’t in the 31’s, I was worried I hadn’t actually been clocked somehow, that my tag had messed up somehow. But I scrolled up a little and there I was!Ā 30:46!!

ImageSo while I may not have run super happy actually during the race, I was enormously happy I’d gone out and done it before the year was out. Racing in the snow was definitely a different experience, and being greeted at the finish line by a proud boyfriend was pretty sweet too. Obviously the best part was the hot chocolate and heated car ride afterward though, knowing I’d earned a snow day full of reading in my warm bed. šŸ˜‰

I’m looking forward to starting speedwork and long runs with my =PR= distance training group and a 2014 of the =PR= race series events I missed this year. Most of all I’m glad that even though I hadn’t planned to or tried to, I PR’d anyway which was a big boost to my confidence and enthusiasm in my recent ambivalence toward training. Time to get back at it for serious!

6 weeks til Charleston Half Marathon!

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