This is one of my favorite races. It doesn’t seem like anything special, just another small community 5k, but it’s a lot of fun and it’s for a great cause. The Sean Hanna Foundation was created by the family of a friend of mine who passed away from cancer in 2007. Sean was one of the best people I know, always giving, caring about others, and making people smile. I like to think that this race is just him doing what he always did, creating smiles and happiness.
With the race falling exactly seven weeks before the Richmond Marathon, I had a 15-miler scheduled for the day and it didn’t make sense to move my long run just because of a 5k. I decided I could probably get away with running a bunch of miles both before and after the 5k to total up to fifteen for the day. I wasn’t sure the best way to break it up, but I decided running eight miles before the race would be doable. I got to the park two hours before the race, did a quick warmup, and headed off for eight miles. After a quick shirt change and a trip to the registration table, I still had about a half hour until the race started so I just tried to keep moving to keep the legs loose.
I didn’t have much of a plan for the race, I didn’t want to give it 100% and actually race it, but I didn’t want to take it super easy either. I planned to run somewhere around an eight min/mile pace. The race always has a small field of 200-250 runners so I knew I could line up near the front. When the race started, I tried not to take it out too fast, but I had a few other runners I needed to get around first. Once around them, I settled into a pretty quick pace and parked myself near a couple of other runners who seemed to be running at the same pace I was. By halfway through, I was now running just in front of them instead of just behind them. I knew I was running much faster than I planned, but my legs felt great. My lungs were barely keeping up, but it felt doable. The race doesn’t have any mile markers so I didn’t quite know what my pace was, but since I’ve run this race three times before and know the park very well–I run there after work sometimes–I knew about how far in I was and what was left.
By the time I was two miles in, I was starting to feel the eight miles I already had on my legs before the race and my lungs hated me, but with a mile to go, I wanted to just hang on and finish it out. I started to feel my body getting that pukey feeling I sometimes get at the end of shorter races, but I just kept it down and pushed to the finish line.
I crossed the finish line at 22:51 to be the 16th finisher overall! A 7:21 pace and I really couldn’t be happier with this time. It was way better than I was expecting and hoping for. And even with eight miles on my legs prior to the race, my legs didn’t even feel tired either. It’s weird to be excited by a running a 5k at a pace nine sec/mile slower than I ran the Chicago Marathon in last fall, but my goal since starting hormones has been to keep paces within 60 seconds of what I used to run for any given effort level and race distance. My pre-HRT 5k PR pace is 6:36 min/mile so I was only 41 seconds slower! Amazing!
After waiting a little while for most of the rest of the runners and walkers to finish and clear off the course, I set out for my final four miles for the day. I was still feeling pretty good so I keep a much quicker pace than I would have otherwise, but I didn’t push too hard. When I was finished, I made my way back to the parking lot were my car was and the post-race BBQ was still happening. I decided to stick around for a few minutes which ended up being a good idea, they were also just starting awards. I didn’t think I placed for anything, but I figured I’d stay anyway. It turned out that I came in 3rd in my age group! I was super psyched about this! Unfortunately, I was registered as a man because, technically, the rules state that I’m supposed to register as such at this point in my transition, but I was also running the race in “boy mode,” so it sort of made sense. To me, I think that makes it all the more awesome that I was able to place.
So after an amazing race in the middle of my 15-miler, I just couldn’t stop smiling. I had a huge runner’s high all day!