As much as running the five 5k races I took part in during 2014 was good for me, I never hit one of my goals, and that was to be under 29 minutes. I came close. My fastest time was 29:12.9. But one thing I learned during those races is that is 12.9 seconds can be a long time.
Early in 2015 I decided I was going to run more races. The first one I signed up for took place on April 18th. It was a new race for me, and I knew it would be a bit challenging. It had a lot of inclines and a few hills. And just a few days before the race, I started taking antibiotics for a mild sinus infection. It was a also a bit chilly that morning, but I was dressed for it. What I remember the most about this race was how when I made the final turn and headed toward the finish line, it seemed so far away. It was probably 3 or 4 blocks away, but it seemed like miles. I finished this race in 29:36.2. I was still over 29 minutes, but I was also faster than the last one I did in 2014 and I was satisfied knowing I was right about where I had been after not running for a race for 5 months.
About one month later, I did my second 5k of the year. I always drive the path in my car a few days before the race to get a feel for the path if I had not run the race before. This one seemed like it could be challenging for me. The morning of the race was hot and humid. It was not a nice day for a run. I didn’t get off to a good start. I felt like I didn’t have much in me. When I got to the 1st mile marker I looked to see the time and noticed they didn’t have a clock there. They also didn’t have one at the 2nd mile marker. So, I really had no idea how I was doing. When I got near the 3rd mile, I really didn’t have confidence in how I did. But when I saw the time at the finish, I was shocked. I completed this race in 28:46.4. I was under 29 minutes. To be honest, I really didn’t believe it. I thought something was wrong, so the joy I should have felt for setting a new record for myself wasn’t there.
A few weeks later was my next race. This one was also one with a lot of inclines and hills. Luckily for me, for every incline there was an equal decline. I felt a little more confident in myself than I did previously in the year. I crossed the finish line at 28:48.51. Only about 2 seconds slower than my previous race. Normally I would be bothered by being slower by such a small margin, but instead I felt that my record time had now been validated. I was definitely an under 29 minute finisher.
Only 13 days later, on June 20th, I competed in my 4th race of the year. This would be the last one that was new for me. It was described as a “fast and flat” course and from my practice drive, it seemed to be. I knew I was doing well from the start. I felt good. But I had no idea just how well I was really doing until near the end. I use the same playlist of songs for every race I’ve ever run and I’ve crossed the finish line to Lacuna Coil’s “Daylight Dancer” every single time. When I got to the 3rd mile, “Daylight Dancer” was just starting. I’m usually well into the song at this point in the race. When I saw the time at the finish line, I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. My finish time was 27:51.86. I set a new record for myself by almost a full minute. I was now under 28 minutes!
After that race I didn’t play on doing any more over the summer. But after finishing so well, I was afraid I would lose momentum. But, I did end up taking the summer off from actual races. That’s not to say I didn’t put in my fair share of practice, but I didn’t do anything official.
My next race was on September 5th. It was my hometown’s race and it would be the 4th time I was competing in it. Being that I had done this race before, my minimum expectation for it was to at the very least, be quicker than I had been in it previously. I had some other goals for the race, which on race day actually changed to include being quicker than a specific person I saw running it as well. Much like the 6/20 race almost 3 months earlier, “Daylight Dancer” started as I was approaching the 3 mile mark. When I was close enough to see the time at the finish line, I gave it everything I had and crossed the line at 27:50.6. By 1.2 seconds I had set another new record for myself and not only that, I beat last year’s time by about 95 seconds. I accomplished every goal I set out to accomplish in this race. Yes, every goal. I did end up having a quicker race than the person I mentioned.
The rest of the races I competed in for the year were also all repeats for me. The next one I did was 3 weeks later and I finished in 28:01.8. I didn’t set a new record, but I did it in about 75 quicker than the year before. No complaints at all.
For my race on October 10th, I was very determined to redeem myself after a setback on this course from the year before. When I did the race in 2014, it was raining, there was a stretch of unpaved road in which I was not comfortable running, and at one point my shoelace came untied. I finished the race 4 seconds away from a record. As I said, I was determined to redeem myself. However, since I had beaten that time in six races since then, I didn’t know what redemption was at this point. I got off to a very quick start. I believe my first mile was my quickest to date. I knew I was doing very well. Somewhere around the 2.5 mile mark, I checked the GPS on my phone to see my progress. I didn’t clip the phone on well enough and I dropped it. I had to stop and pick it up. A few minutes later, “Daylight Dancer” started playing and the finish line was in sight. I saw the time and started thinking that the phone mishap would cost me a chance at a record and my quest for redemption would be ruined. However, I made it across the finish line at 27:49.9. 7/10 of a second quicker than my previous record. My redemption had been achieved.
Two weeks later I did another fast and flat course. This was the one that I had set my record on last year. I did it in 29:12.9. As was the case with the previous repeat races, my minimum goal was to beat last year’s time. By the time race day had arrived, I really felt like doing the race was a chore. I didn’t really feel up to actually doing it. But, I did it. And I got off to a good start. I felt strong throughout, despite it being a bit chillier than I like when I run. Somewhere around the 2.5 mile mark, I started to think I was really doing well, but I didn’t quite know how well yet. When I got the 3rd mile marker, “Daylight Dancer” was not on yet. Garbage’s “Push It” was still playing, and it was just ending when I crossed the finish line. I crossed at 27:07.8. Again, I set a new record by almost 50 seconds. I really couldn’t believe how well I did. And on top of it, I did the race over 2 full minutes quicker than the year before. That’s some improvement!
The final race I did this year was also the final race I did last year. In 2014, I finished it in 29:40.4. It was my slowest finish of the year out of five races, but if I wanted to put a positive spin on it, I was my 5th best finish, out of the seven races I had done up to that point. Much like last year, I had trouble breaking out of the pack at the beginning. This races starts on a narrow road and has a lot of kids in it. They tend to stay bunched up. Regardless of those factors, and the cold weather, I felt pretty good. I did hear the beginning of “Daylight Dancer” this time, so I knew a record setting race wasn’t happening. I finished at 27:57.7. Like last year, it was my 5th quickest finish of the year, but this time it was 5th of 9 races. And like last year, this course ended up being my 5th quickest finish yet.
As I stated in my blog entry about my races from last year, my issues with depression are well documented. Sometimes, I find it hard to be motivated enough to get anything done. But these races are good for me. I set goals and I accomplish them. Sometimes, I surprise myself with how well I do. That’s why I do this. And that’s why I’ll do it again in 2016. I ended last year wanting to be under 29 minutes. I was 12.9 seconds away. I ended 2015 just 7.8 seconds away from 27 minutes. It looks like my goal for 2016 is clear.