Who could turn down a road race in Plymouth, Massachusetts on the 4th of July? The race is directly followed by the highly celebrated Plymouth parade with spectators visiting from all over New England. Did I also mention that you run the parade route so you have tons of people cheering you on? Yea, it didn’t take much to convince me to randomly sign up for this awesome 5k race!
Before The Starting Line
If you’ve ever ran a road race then you’ve probably seen them doing a series of sprints to warm up pre-race. They are calm, yet focused at the start, wear super short running shorts and have the long and lean build that screams runner-they are the serious, competitive athletes. These are the people who laced up that morning to run a race in which they hope to either a) win or b) PR.
I noticed her at the starting line-Mrs. Neon Yellow Sports Bra, short black shorts, ripped midsection, long, lean legs. She was one of them, and that means she was there to race. It didn’t matter that she was at least 15 years older than me;just from looking at her I knew in my bones that this woman could run. Competition? No sir (not today at least). She was in a league of her own. Oh, and there she goes doing her practice sprints. Good grief, I’m impressed (can we say girl crush?).
One Hot Race
The temperature was 80 degrees and climbing before the race had even began. I have never raced in the heat and I was nervous on how it would affect me (heart rate, breathing, time). I thought to myself, “Between the heat and the knee issues you are not going to PR in this race. With the amount of serious athletes here you probably won’t place either. Today with be for training. Today will be for fun. Just run your best.”
I powered up my Garmin and noticed that in the minute before the race start my heart rate skyrocketed from 90 to 140 BPM. I wasn’t even moving and my HR was 140! (Is that normal!?) Adrenaline? Nerves? Probably both. It’s as if the jump in heart rate was my body’s way of telling me that it knew what I was going to ask of it in just a couple of seconds.
The sound of the fog horn broke the silence at the starting line; I pushed the start timer button on my Garmin, reminded myself to breath and began sprinting alongside the other runners. Mrs. Neon Yellow Sports Bra was nowhere to be seen but I was sure she was in the lead pack, probably duking it out for first place with another speedy lady runner.
Today I was there to run, not race. I let go of any worries I had about how many people were ahead of me or who might be behind me and focused on finding a pace I could maintain. The humidity made it hard to breath and my heart rate maxed out at 187 (yikes).
My favorite part of the race was the spectators who lined the race route to cheer on the runners: they clapped, cheered and proudly waved their American flags. The energy surrounding this short race was invigorating and almost charismatic. This is why I run. So, run I did.
My music was on pretty loud, but I’m pretty sure I just heard the stout man with the grizzly beard belt out across the crowd, “Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! Another woman! Go get it!” Wait-was he talking about me? I must have misheard him. Just keep running.
I rounded the last bend to reveal the finish line. Just before I crossed the finish line the announcer stated that the second woman was about to finish. I looked around to find her only to realize that he was talking about me. Holy crap-I have no idea how that happened, but I’ll take it!
I looked up and I saw her again-Mrs. Neon Yellow Sports Bra. Obviously, she came in first. Her time? 19:33 (A 6:17 min/mi pace). Can we all say a collective ‘Dayum woman!” in her honor. That’s smokin’ fast. She must be a pro, or ran in college or be on some super protein shake that I’ve got to get my hands on! Clearly I went home and stalked her online. Typed in her name and it was all there laid out for me-a walk on at Yale’s track team back in the day, currently owns her own personal training studio, and the ringer-2008 Duatholon World Champion. Whooped by a Duatholon World Champion-I’ll take that any day! Oh, and her typical 5k time is in the low 18’s, but the heat clearly “slowed” her down (now I have a serious girl crush-whoa!).
A second place finish, a gift certificate to Bayside Runner and had a ton of fun- that makes for one happy redhead! My official finish time was 21:42-no PR, but nothing to be ashamed of either, especially in the wicked heat!
The best part of the race was having my husband and daughter waiting for me at the finish line. It’s amazing to finish a race and see O (my husband) cheering me on and Lillian there waiting for a hug. After the race we stayed in Plymouth so that Lillian could see her first parade! Plymouth’s first annual Independence Day 5k definitely delivered as a ton of fun!