About a month ago, I ran my first 5K since I started my half marathon training. It was in New Haven, CT on a frigid December day. The week prior to the race, I was watching the temperature drop and was beginning to get nervous. I had never run outside in very cold temperatures and I didn’t even have the proper clothes! I’d only been training for 2 months at this point and it had only been on the treadmill. I needed to get at least one cold run in before this race. My biggest concern was being able to breathe in the cold air. I kept having horrible flashbacks from gym class in middle school when we’d run laps in the winter and my lungs would burn from the cold.
A few days before the race, I went and tried on a few different cold weather shirts to run in. The winner was the fitted ¼ zip top from Under Armour. This is an amazing shirt – it is incredibly warm, but allows your body to breathe on long runs. Oh and the sleeves are extra long with thumbholes – I love any shirt with thumbholes! I also got a light pair of gloves, which I found out later aren’t really needed.
The day before the race, it was about 35 degrees out so I decided to do a quick one-mile run to test out my new gear and see how my lungs would hold out in the cold air. The run went really well and my lungs didn’t burn like I thought they would. I was also surprised at how warm my body got even in the cold weather. I was sweating after a mile! I felt better about my comfort level in the race and that I wouldn’t die of frostbite.
So race morning comes and I’m asking myself why I’m doing this. I mean really, who gets up at 8 am on a Sunday to run 3.1 miles in 28-degree weather? Only crazy people, right? Well I sure felt crazy at the time. I had my usual pre-run snack of half of a whole wheat tortilla with almond butter and a banana, got myself all bundled up, and we were off to the race. My awesome hubs kindly drove me to the race and was ready to cheer me on.
When we arrived at the race, we had to park about a half mile away from the starting line, which was a good warm up walk for the run. The race was a good size, with about 2,500 people participating so there were a lot of cars in an area with little parking. The restaurant Christopher Martin’s was sponsoring the race and they had a large water tent set up, which was much appreciated and located in the sun, so I spent my time there warming up. Dunkin’ Donuts also had a truck there providing prerace snacks.
About 5 minutes before start time, I left my sunny spot and got into the race corral. I got in close to the front because I was nervous about being at the back of the pack. My adrenaline was pumping and I was ready to get moving. They counted us down and we were off!
Starting towards the front ended up not being such a great idea once the race started. I was running way to fast in the beginning to keep pace with the group. I realized this after a few minutes and really took it down a notch. I knew that if I was going to finish this race on two feet and not crawling on all fours, I had to keep a pace that I was comfortable with. I also found that since I was running faster than normal, I was breathing much harder and my nose felt like it was completely frozen because I was taking in so much cold air. I finished the first mile in 11:58, which was the fasted mile I had run to date, and I was still feeling pretty good at this point. Surprisingly I was getting really warm despite the super cold temperature. I took my gloves off and kept going for another half mile or so before I took a short walking break to catch my breath. For the rest of the race, I did a walk/run combo every quarter mile at around a 13:15 min/mile pace.
As I was getting closer to the finish line and could see the race clock, I really picked up the pace. I had never finished a 5K distance in less than 40 minutes and I was determined to do it. And guess what, I did it! 39:45 minutes to be exact. I thought I was going to pass out after I crossed the finish line because I was running so fast, but it didn’t matter – I did it! I accomplished my goal, and I did it a full 8:35 minutes faster than the 5K I ran 2 months prior!
This was my first non-Disney race and the experience was very different. Where were the fireworks? Where was the entertainment? Where was my finishing medal? The atmosphere was much more serious and not as lighthearted as the Disney 5Ks are. But even without all of those Disney extras, I still had a great time. I must really be starting to like running.
Amazing hubs found me after the race and greeted me with my choice of water and Gatorade. He also moved the car right across from the finish line so I didn’t have to make the long walk back. Best. Ever. I stretched a bit, drank a ton of water and headed home for a post race meal.
This race was a great experience and kick started my serious half marathon training. It gave me the confidence to run outside in the cold, which I had been very nervous about before this. There is another 5K in the beginning of February that I’m going to get in before the half. Next goal: less than 38 minutes. Is it possible??