I was so close.
I was only a step behind the couple that was running in front of me the whole race.
There was only 1/2 mile left in my 5K. I know my time wasn’t going to be a PR, but I felt like I was running solid. Actually I was quite happy as I hadn’t done any workouts or mountain runs in a while. Just my 4 mile daily runs.
I had a thought. I could push past them (that couple), but then I thought, “what if I run out of steam and they pass me – that wouldn’t be fun”. We were running at a good pace and so I decided to hold back until later, right before the finish.
It was hot. The race started at 7:00 PM in the South on a sunny July day. My app read 94 degrees at the start.
As I pondered my finish to the first 5K I had run in 7 months, I thought back to the beginning of the race. I was only about a half mile into the race and I had doubts. I thought to myself that I couldn’t do this racing anymore. I should just stick to my daily runs and be done. What am I doing running a 5K when I hadn’t even run my mountain in over a month. Nope. Racing is not for me. This will be my last.
As I got closer to the couple (back to the end of the race) – literally almost beside them – I thought to myself, “I’m enjoying this race. It’s been hard and all, but I miss racing.”
The couple ahead of me were a woman and a man. Both about half my age. The woman was obviously in great shape and the guy was not. He wasn’t overweight, but he was hurting. This was probably his first 5K. As we got closer to the finish, suddenly he stopped. The woman looked around and begged him to keep going. We were about 1/4 mile from the finish. He had nothing left. I moved on, but felt badly for the guy. He had run a good race, but didn’t have enough in him with the heat.
As I rounded the last block, I passed another guy who was half my age. He looked at me and told me to go for it. That was so nice. I said the same to him and he thanked me.
I pushed to the finish. The line was directly in front of me. My mountain legs had kicked in. The last mile of this 5K was uphill most of the way. Running a mountain once a week has allowed my legs to have strength to go uphill. In fact, many times my pace goes up while going uphill.
This was the first finish of a 5K where I had strength to really push it at the end. I gave all I had. My Lovely Wife and daughter rooting me onward, I passed the finish in 22:32; 45 seconds slower then a PR, but very satisfying. Before the race, TJ asked me how confident I felt. I told him I had no confidence. I was just going to go out and do the best I could.
I came in 2nd in my age group (the old guy age group). I was thrilled as I had never placed in this race before and this was the 3rd time we ran it. There were over 400 people and I came in 41st overall.
I don’t know what happened with that couple. I never saw them after the guy stopped. I was so hot and tired at the end, I really couldn’t think much. I hope he pulled it together and finished the race.
Life is like a 5K. So many times we either don’t want to be in the race or we want to stop right before the finish. Ultimately the joy of the finish erases all the pain of the race. My hope is that everyone could run as to finish the race. Life is too short to give up in the middle.
I’m not sure why I wrote that last paragraph, but I hope it helps someone.
Have an awesome week and keep your eyes on the finish!