Monday, August 18, 2014

run, forrest, run

I didn’t know the movie Forrest Gump existed until about 4th or 5th grade. And it didn’t take long after the realization to wish that it would un-exist. It was that awkward year before entering youth group, and I just really, really wanted the older kids to like me. Unfortunately, all the older kids insisted on calling me "Jen-ay," and saying things like “Run, Forrest, run!” and “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is, Jen-ay” every chance they got.

Looking back on it now, I knew they were just having fun and not making fun at all. But I wasn’t even old enough to see the movie, much less know what they were talking about. I remember finally convincing my mom to let me watch the movie, and my brother’s babysitter {I was old enough to stay by myself but not old enough to watch my three younger brothers} sitting by the TV, ready to fast forward through any inappropriate scenes.

I came away from that movie with only one opinion: I did not want to be “Jen-ay.”

Yet, the nickname still sticks. To this day, I’ll meet a stranger - tell them my name - and they’ll respond, “Jen-ay? My momma always said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.’” Did she?

So what is this monologue leading up to? The Elvis Presley 5k. Because Forrest taught Elvis how to dance. And Forrest likes to run - he likes to run really, really far. And it’s only logical to be thinking about Forrest Gump and childhood nicknames when you’re waiting at the starting line for the Elvis Presley 5k surrounded by fake sideburns and gold aviators. 

So this Saturday I ran in the Elvis Presley 5k. When I decided I was going to run in the St. Jude Marathon this spring and use the FIRST training program, I knew I would need an accurate 5k time to assess my fitness level and determine my training paces for the December marathon. It just worked out perfectly that I would have 12 weeks to train for this 5k and then 16 weeks to train for the marathon.

I haven’t competed in a 5k in at least three years, so I had no idea what to expect. I used my typical long-run pace of a 9:00-min mile to train for the 5k, and was incredibly happy with how much faster I was getting in only a couple of months. My last couple of tempo runs, I was hitting a 7:30 pace - without the assistance of a treadmill - so I knew I could do something similar with the added adrenaline of the race. I set my goal at 23:00 min, knowing it would be a stretch.

The race itself was incredibly entertaining. There were so many men AND women dressed up like the king of rock ’n roll. The weather was perfect, and the course was lightly hill-y - enough to fill it but not enough to hate it. 

Oh, and then there was the added factor that I had to run in my glasses for the first time since 4th grade because I contracted some sort of eye bacteria and my optometrist took away my contacts for a week. I didn’t even have time to get in a practice run with them, so I was pretty worried that they would be sliding down my face the entire time or fogging up from the heat coming off my face. Turns out they didn’t bother me at all - and they provided a nice distraction from the fact that my body was on fire from running such a fast pace.

The 3-mile route was pretty uneventful. I could tell from the 1st & 2nd mile markers that I was on pace to hit my goal, but I could also feel myself slowing down significantly in the last mile. I kept telling myself not to be a baby and ruin things with only a mile to go. Run, Jen-ay, run! 

When I turned the corner for the final stretch, I knew I only had a minute to make it to the finish line, and it was so. far. away. Thankfully, it was downhill so I kicked it in and ignored the loud siren going off in my brain, screaming at me to slow down. When I crossed the finish line the time said 23:02. My watch said 23:02. Only two stinking seconds! And then started the if only’s…

If only I hadn’t slowed down that last mile.
If only I had kicked a little bit harder at the end. I could have kicked harder.
If only I hadn’t worn these glasses - they totally messed up my mojo.
If only I had shaved my legs, that lack of air resistance would have easily made up two seconds.

The best husband in the world who woke up at 6:45 a.m. on a Saturday morning the weekend before a huge test and took pictures and of whom I can not say enough about met me at the finish line with a huge smile and a bottle of water. Together we headed to the after-party area and a woman asked me if I wanted to see my official time. “Sure!”

And there it was. The official piece of paper said my time was 23:00 exactly. Apparently it took me 2 seconds to get to the starting line before the race and I hadn’t considered that in my calculations. I had hit my goal. Exactly. I had also finished 2nd in my age division, 12th of the women and 66th overall. Way better than I could ever have expected.

And now that I have my 5k time and current fitness level, I now know that I’ll be training for a 3:45 {3 hour, 45 minute} marathon finish! Can’t wait to get started!

By the way, I’m less than $200 away from my fundraising goal for St. Jude. That’s only 20 people giving $10 each. Your money goes directly to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the fight against childhood cancer. Your donation helps pay for these children's treatments so their families don’t have to, and every dollar makes a difference! Help me reach that goal by donating here. Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far!

Have you ever run in a 5k? Was it themed? What was your childhood nickname?

Linking up with Leslie for What You Wish Wednesday!

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