Sunday, May 15, 2016

Nice Try, See You Next Year!

As most of you know, for the last five years, I have run the Narrow River 5K.  It was one of my first 5K's when I was a new runner.  It is just a few miles from my home and I run part of the course daily. It has a small field, with prizes just for the overall first place finishers and first place age group finishers. I love small, local races in this beautiful town that I live in. I guess that is why I keep going back year after year.

The course is not easy. It has a few challenging hills and it starts at 10am.  It is also the height of allergy season for me, which has it's own set of issues. Leading up to the race, there was talk of cool weather and rain. Something I knew would be good for me. We had been doing hills and I felt ready to reach my goal of sub 30.  I wasn't going for a 5K PR, which BTW is 29:42, just sub 30.

BRF#1 finds it curious that I have picked this race as my goal race each year. Maybe I like a challenge? Maybe I just don't know any better? Maybe I am blinded by the fact that I know the course?  Whatever the case, I show up every year.  I am never registered because that gives me an out. An out I have never taken. This year was no different.

Michelle, who coached me to a twenty six minute PR at my last marathon, has always been someone I have felt comfortable talking to when I needed running advice.  As I was putting my race plan together, I had questions about warm up miles, which I know are important and I didn't want any mistakes.  After talking with her, the plan was two slow miles and a few strides at the end.  Race pace should be 9:35 or better.

I fell asleep fine, but was up at 4am. I had a very hard time falling back to sleep. I eventually did but was up before the alarm. Despite the lack of sleep, I felt good.  I had a nice breakfast and time with the family before I had to head down to the beach. To my disappointment, it had stopped raining and the sun was shining. It was a beautiful day, if I wasn't racing.

George came with me. I knew he would have friends there and would be ok while I was running.  Once I registered and he was off playing with friends, I headed out for my two mile warm up. I paced myself perfectly but it got hot fast.  Back in the parking lot, I grabbed water and stretched while I waited for my shuttle to take me to the starting line.

Special K was there and running the 10K and it was so great to chat with her until my shuttle left.

Special K, Me and Jennifer

Smiling before the race.m

I was on the last shuttle, so by the time I got to the start, I had just eight minutes to spare. Michelle was there. We talked about how hot it was already and how that may be a problem.  We wished each other a good race and the horn went off.

I decided to listen to music, which I don't normally do. I thought something fast and loud would help me keep the pace I wanted.  I realized, about twenty seconds in, that I was behind Michelle and was running an 8:35 pace.  I needed to slow down and get on track. I found the pace that was good for me and settled in.

The first hill is not very big and I kept on pace.  There was a water stop but I didn't feel thirsty and I didn't want to take the time anyway.

I was starting to really warm up and the sun was beating down on me.  My watch buzzed and mile one was finished, 9:37.

Feeling good at the start of mile two, I am not sure what really happen, but things started to go wrong. I started to slow down and I struggled up the second hill.  Once up the hill, I had to talk myself down from the ledge. I was on flat land with a a big downhill coming up. I knew I could make up time there. I picked up my pace and flew down the hill.  On flat land again, my watch buzzed for mile two, 10:07.  That can't be good.  Doing the math in my head, I knew I had to run faster than planned to make that up.

Much faster than planned.

I didn't want to let anyone down. I told myself that if I reached my goal, I would never have to run this race again.  With the last hill in sight, I ran my heart out. I grabbed a cup of water to dump on my head but didn't even slow down.  Mile three buzzed on my watch, 9:44. I saw the finish and the clock already read 30:xx. I didn't make it.

I didn't make it.

George was put to work taking the tags from our bids. I gave him mine and he hugged me.  I didn't cry this year, but I did get angry.  I got water and a few orange slices then headed back to the finish to cheer on Special K and a few other friends.

I held it together. It was nice to talk to so many friends and cool down.  Then I saw the official results.

30:38, which was a 9:53 pace.  Sixth in my AG,  and twenty second female.

Not even a course record.

I know there is a lot to be proud of. I still ran a decent race and I never gave up, although the thought crossed my mind, twice. Once I knew I wasn't going to make my goal, I had to keep trying.  There is always a chance, right? I can honestly say, I left it all out there. I did what I could and gave it everything I had.


Will I run this race next year? Probably, but I am not saying yes or no right now. A lot can happen in a year.  I am working on a 5K plan now with a new PR in mind for the end of the summer.  I will keep you posted on that as it all comes together.

Thanks for lending me your ear. I am disappointed but that is a part of life. It is what will fuel me to eventually reach my goal.

For those of you waiting for more about Broad Street, it's coming. I just needed a little closure on this years Narrow River.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole


  1. Saw your title and thought, "Oh, no, what happened that Nicole is done with running for the year?!". Not every race is meant to be; don't be too tough on yourself. And do finish the Broad Street chronicles; you left your readers on the ledge!

    1. Awww, thank you so much!

      Broad Street will be up in a day or two. I have hundreds of pictures to go though but it is basically written.

  2. Even when you don't get the results you want, you should feel proud anytime you take the risk and TRULY leave everything on the course. I understand the disappointment, though. Still, 6th in your AG is awesome!

  3. My heartbroke a little when I saw your Strava post with the race time. I'm sorry. I love that you don't sign up for the race and that you run it. You take the gamble and one of these years, BOOM, you will make it happen!!