Do you have a race that always makes it on your race calender every year? A race that you just can’t see a running season being complete without? Last year I wrote a blog post listing several favorites that I like to run. On Sunday I ran one of these that has become my “must run” race. This marked the sixth time I’ve run this particular 5k. I run it every year, even when it’s not always convenient. The race takes place right before the City’s Memorial Day parade and in the prior two years I even marched in the parade after running the race. I was going to do the same thing this year, but a last minute change of heart kept me out of the parade. But, not out of the race!
As 5ks go this is great race. It’s a flat, fast, fun course. Being right before the parade gives you an unusual amount of spectators to cheer you on. And the flat course seems like an easy 5k, but there’s a twist. The race is at noon at the end of May in Michigan. So it gets pretty hot and can take a toll quick if your’re not prepared. Additionally, the race is for a great cause. Money raised is used to provide student-athletes from the local high schools with a scholarship. I’m a huge believer in the importance athletics plays in the education system and in childhood development, I’m glad to be able to support it by participating in the race.
These are all great reasons to run this race. However, they are not the reason this race has become so important to me.
For me, this race is personal. It was seven years ago that I was setting up with my family to watch the parade when I saw the runners running the inaugural race. I looked and thought, I bet I could do that. And, the next year I did. And from there I gained the confidence to run more races and longer distances until I was running half marathons. At the time I didn’t even realize I was a runner. But, running this 5k that first year gave me confidence to let myself become one.
You can see why the race is important to me and makes my race calendar each year. But, it’s still not the exact reason this race was so important for me to run this year. Even more so than the past five.
This year, I felt like I needed to remind myself that I was still a runner. My running is nowhere near where it was a couple short years ago. I’ve let things slid and have taken some huge steps backwards. If I had to discribe my running over the last year I’d say I’ve been like a hamster. Yes, for the obvious reason, most of my running has been done in the gym on the treadmill. But, more than that, I’ve sort of caged it. In that my runs have many times lacked meaning. Just logging miles. I’ve had a few workouts recently that felt different, more deliberate, but not yet where I want to be.
Given all that, I felt like I needed to draw a line. That if I missed this race I may no longer be a runner. So I did what runners do, I laced up my shoes and ran. As usual, I had a great time. Despite the fact that I may have logged the worse official 5k time I’ve had. I ran it nearly three minutes slower than I had the last two years and almost two minutes slower then I had that first year in 2008.
Nevertheless,I’m glad I ran it. I was disappointed, I thought I’d do a little better despite my lack of training. But I finished and succeeded in reminding myself that I’m a runner. And as runners know, you only get out of running what you put in!