Last Saturday morning I ran the local Santa Shuffle 5K. It was an untimed “fun run” so everything was pretty free and loose. There was no official start or finish line and Santa counted down the start. I’d say there were about 150-200 runners at the event. Looking around, I really couldn’t gauge how fast the crowd was. There was a lot of technical gear being worn but it was cold so the cotton t-shirt metric wasn’t really useful.
The course was two loops around and through Waterloo Park. The loop was sort of funny because it actually crossed itself at one point. I’m glad I wasn’t in charge of directing traffic there! As soon as Santa said GO! a group of really fast runners broke away. I could see at least two women in the group and probably six to eight others. My goal was to run sub 25:00 so I set my Garmin to lap each km and focused on keeping my pace just below the 5:00 min/km mark.
My first km came in a 4:39 which was a big quick so I focused on holding a steady hard pace. I was passed by a women in the first km but I never let her get more than 20m ahead of me and eventually reeled her in about 5 minutes later. The course was quite twisty in parts and after the second km I was running alone although I could see two men about 40 and 80 m ahead of me.
During the second loop I started to really feel the effort. I made a turn just after the 3km mark and the volunteer there told me I was the something-th female. I really couldn’t tell what number she had said. I was just excited to hear a comment like that. I’ve never run a race where I’ve been in a position to hear a ranking! I figured I was probably running in fourth or fifth and just keep chugging along. My main goal was not to get caught from behind by the woman I’d passed. I had no idea how much of a lead I had on her but I wanted to trick myself into thinking she was close.
I tried to turn on the jets in the fifth km, hold off any one that was behind me and push to the finish. My Garmin hit 5km as I crested a hill about 200m before the course actually ended. I ran down the hill past some spectators and someone holding a clipboard, figured I’d crossed the invisible finish line and hit my Garmin. My km splits were:
My Garmin mapped the course at 5.2km with a finish time of 24:49. My cumulative time at my 5km split was 23:53 which would make this my third fastest 5km (out of ten). I have decided not to record this among my official finish times though since the course wasn’t certified.
After the race the runners went back to the Waterloo Rec Complex for snacks. I passed the volunteer who had told me my placing and she asked me if I’d held onto my spot. I told her I had. Of course I didn’t know what place that was but I was starting to suspect that maybe I’d come in third because (1) why would she ask me if I’d held onto fourth or fifth? and (2) one of the women who I thought had been in front of me had actually finished in a few minutes after me.
Back at the Rec Complex there was hot chocolate, coffee, fruit and granola bars. At the awards ceremony I was announced as the third place woman! I now am the proud owner of a Running Room bronze medal! I know it was just a fun run and it was a small race but I’m still quite pleased with myself.