After suffering through a rough running week, I survived my first 15k and loved (almost) every minute of it! I am SO proud of myself and I feel extremely prepared for my half marathon training cycle to begin this week. If I wasn’t before, I am most definitely a runner now.
On Friday night, I drove down to the National Harbor and checked into my hotel room at Aloft. I love staying at Aloft hotels because the rates are always great and I love the modern look of the hotel and the rooms.
After checking in, I made the cold walk down to the expo. There weren’t many vendors there, but they had lots of warm weather running clothes and necessities like throw-away gloves and sport beans. After grabbing my packet, which included a super cute bib and a nice, but rather cheap, running jacket, I picked up a few more things and got out of there before I spent too much money.
Even though it was freezing, I spent a little time in front of the Christmas Tree listening to a high school choir sing a few carols before grabbing a sandwich at Potbelly.
I woke up at 7am on Saturday morning feeling well rested. I took my time getting ready so I could stay in my warm room as long as possible. Meanwhile, my running partner (who will now be referred to as Coach) showed up to be my personal cheerleader/photographer for the day.
The above picture is what happens when you run 4 days a week but always forget to do laundry. I’m wearing a Hot Chocolate Bondi Band, a C9 by Champion Long-Sleeve Top, a Lululemon Run: Swiftly Long-Sleeve Top, and Lululemon Wunder Under Crops. I thought I’d be easy to spot, but Coach and I noticed at least 50 other women wearing the same C9 by Champion top. Gotta love Target!
The race was supposed to start at 8am so I planned to get to the start line at 7:45. In true Jerrell fashion, I walked out of the hotel at 7:50. I jogged/speed walked to the start only to find that the 5k hadn’t even started yet. There was so much traffic coming into the harbor that everything was backed up. At first I didn’t mind, but when I looked at my watch at 9am and still hadn’t crossed the start line, I started to get annoyed. If it had been a warm day, I probably wouldn’t have cared, but my throwaway gloves weren’t keeping my hands warm at all and after an hour of people using the bathroom in the woods right next to the starting line instead of the porta-potties, the sights and smells became more than I could bear.
I finally crossed the start line around 9:20 and was happy that I made sure to line up near the back of the pack. I wanted to keep my own pace without having to worry about hundreds of people passing me left and right. After I warmed up, I felt really good. I was keeping an 11:30ish pace, which is faster than I like to go during long runs, but I felt good so I went with it. This race would be all about how my body felt. I wanted to run the entire way, but I also wanted to let my body lead. I was doing great until mile 5 when we hit a steep uphill. I could’ve run it, but I knew I would’ve been dead at the top so I walked the worst part of it.
Right at the 10k is when I started to fade. There was another hill and I just felt my body getting really heavy and tired. I ate 2 shot bloks and drank a little water (for the 2nd time during the race) and turned on my music for the first time. It helped get me to the waterfront where the beautiful views distracted me. I was still feeling sluggish at mile 7 and really wanted to walk until I saw Coach. He was running alongside the path taking pictures of me like a maniac.
When he saw that I was tired, he jumped onto the course and ran with me for a few minutes. Just long enough to get me to the biggest hill right before the finish line. I slowed down to walk a bit of it and he sprinted to the top so that he could catch me coming across the finish line. Best running partner ever? I think so.
A few minutes later I crossed the finish line (he got the picture but it’s absolutely awful. being out of breath doesn’t look good on me) and took a stretch/can’t-believe-I-just-did-that break at the top of the hill.
Even with the bit of walking I did, I am beyond proud of my time and effort today. I worked really hard, I never gave up and I enjoyed myself. I also ran faster than I ever do and got a little closer to my goal pace for the RnR USA Half in March. I’ll share more of my reflections on the base building training period I’ve been in over the last 2 months, but I just want to give a little perspective now. In October, I ran a 5k and didn’t even make it through the first mile without walking. In November I ran a 10k and only walked at the water station and last weekend I ran my first 15k with less than 5 minutes of walking. I don’t care how slow I am or how tired my quads are on hills, that is something to be proud of.