This spring I went on the hunt for as many 5ks as I could find for my return to racing post-pregnancy. The earliest one I could find, that I thought I would be ready for was the Run Awake 5k in Annapolis, MD. As I think is often the case with me, I set out to run and race for selfish reasons and ultimately realize there are so many more reasons to run beyond the “because I like to” reason. The Run Awake 5k put me in my place pretty quickly for two reasons. 1. The story behind the race and the Achon Uganda Children’s Fund where 100% of proceeds went to is the type of human kindness story that is motivating, inspiring and makes you grateful for what you have. And 2. Despite having only been ‘back to running’ for a few weeks I stupidly thought that I might be able to hit a fast pace like I had pre-pregnancy. I went to the front of the pack near the start line and as the gun went off I tried to keep up with the fast starters I had lined up with only to realize they were at about a 7:15 pace. I knew I couldn’t hang. I scaled back to what felt fast but comfortable and managed to hold onto about an 8:30 pace for the race.
We were at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis which is a great place to run. It’s shaded, has relatively well maintained paved trails and a hint of hills throughout. It was nice to be racing rather than just running. I knew that I was pushing to keep even an 8:30 pace and I could feel my competitive spirit bubbling to the surface wishing I could be faster. It was 3.1 miles of running hard, pep talking myself and being humbled about what it takes to be able to run fast…lots of running and lots of training. One highlight for me was when another runner behind me with about a mile left told me I had a good pace and that she was trying to stick with me.
The other highlight was when we were at about the halfway mark I heard whoops behind me only to then see the flash of Julius Achon, the namesake of the race’s foundation it was supporting, also an Olympic runner, zoom past cheering everyone on and high-fiving as he passed us all on the course. He probably started even after the last walker and was finished in about 15 minutes.
After the race I made sure to meet Julius and thank him for starting his foundation. He in turn thanked Maryline who organized and put on the Run Awake 5k. When I got home I promptly re-read the story about him in Runner’s World and was even more humbled and happy to have made this my first 5k of the year.
Oh, and as for my time? I finished in 26:44, 7th in my age group out of 51 and 58th out of 237 total finishers. Not bad for a new mom.