What’s better than racing a 5k on a nice (somewhat windy) Saturday morning in a city you love and knowing that there’s free donuts for you at the end? Well for me, nothing. Definitely since I PR’ed and Ryan Hall was there. Yes, you read that right. I got to meet THE Ryan Hall. Oh you know, the one going to the Olympics and is running the marathon? The American half marathon record holder? Yeah, that’s the one. I’m getting ahead of myself though. My day went a little something like this ..
7:00: I woke up to the ear piercingingly loud beeps of my alarm clock and walked to the kitchen only to discover that my hard workout from Friday thad taken more out of my legs than I thought. I then ate my usual race morning breakfast of oatmeal and a banana. Not to mention a spoonful of peanut butter for some extra protein. And to get my peanut butter fix for the day. Can’t live without it! ;-) About 7:30 ish my mom and I left for Olympia where the race was at in order to give me a little extra timeso that I could warm-up. Once we got near downtown, there was runners right and left getting warmed up, or for the most part, getting in their own Saturday morning runs. Olympia is a pretty runner friendly city. There’s quite a few different local running clubs (that I wish I could be apart of!). We parked and fought our way towards the pre-registered line to get my race number and shirt. By that time it was close to the start of the race and I still hadn’t had time to get in a warm-up or go to the bathroom. Like most road races, that means porta-potties. In this case, the extra porta-potties they had ordered? Yeah, they didn’t come. That means that lucky ole me got to wait in line for 15 minutes for one of the 2 (Yes, only 2!) bathrooms. Sorry, but I didn’t want my motivation to finish the race to be the fiber I had eaten this morning.
Once I was clear of the long bathroom lines and swarms of runners showing up at the last-minute to register, I took off for a warm-up around the block. This really only made me realize, “Woah. My legs are tired and it’s windy. Kinda don’t want to do this anymore.” I’m not alone in thinking this before nearly race am I? Today was a race for fun though. I signed up for it after hearing that 1) there was free donuts at the finish! Who doesn’t LOVE free donuts!? and 2) that Ryan Hall would be there. I didn’t know that my coach was going to give us a hard workout that Friday, but oh well. Just had to keep thinking about the donuts, mmm. After a lap around te block and some stretching I was ready to go. Or as ready as I would ever be.
About 9:00 we all lined up and the siren went off. Starting somewhat in the middle-front area, I got stuck behind some slower runners but was able to worm my way through them. The course looped for a few blocks around the start area down by the waterfront and proceeded onto the edge of a two-lane highway for an out and back before looping back to the finish line. As we rounded the block, I edged out to pass a few other runners. I have the fortune, or some might say misfortune, of being alone most of the time during a road race. Somewhere near the lead pack, and not quite the middle pack. I was able to pick off two or three runners before the turnaround only to find that the last mile to the finish would have me running into a headwind. Great. The clock at the 2 mile said 12:10 and I was floored. How could I be going this fast when my legs felt so tired? Could I PR today? I mean I was hauling it today if the clock was right. Or I suppose you could say hall-ing it, in today’s case. Those questions and the cheering crowd near the finish pushed me to finish strong. Rounding the last corner with about 100m to go I saw the clock strike 20:00 and pulled through in a 20:07, a PR. Ripping off the bottom of my bib and catching my breath, I was stoked. I had just beaten my 5K record by 7 seconds … after fighting a headwind and having a tough workout the day before. Not too shabby.
Grabbing some water and getting on my sweatshirt, I jumped in line to meet Ryan Hall. More and more runners were getting done so I figured I’d get in line before it started to wrap around the block. As it became my turn in line, I took the chance to get his autograph as well as snap a quick picture with him.
It was pretty windy out so don’t mind our hair. As for the slightly confused look on his face? Well I’m just going to go with the idea that he had smiled for a lot of pictures already that day. After meeting one of the best professional runners around, I was slightly awestruck, but taken out of my daze when I saw a woman standing with a donut. Meet Ryan Hall? Check. Finish the race? Check. Eat a donut? Almost. I got in line and munched on a glazed old-fashion (my favorite!) as I watched all of the other runners who were finished mill around and congratulate each other. I met up with a few local runners that I knew and swapped stories as well as checked in with my competition.
Just going into the day with the idea to meet an Olympian and get a free donut, I ended up with a new PR and a trip to Panera afterwards with my mom as well as an autograph and a free t-shirt. That’s where the motivating and inspiring part about my day ended though because as soon as I got home, I took a 2 hour nap and lazed about the house. That’s okay though, right? I mean, who wouldn’t be tired from a day full of running, runners, food … and even runners wearing food. Sounds just perfect to me. :-)
Have any of you ever met a professional or elite runner? What’s your main motivation for signing up for a race? Until next time, Gabby.