Last Sunday, I skipped my long run in favor of running the U Can Finish 5 Miler & 2 mile with my friend and honorary Chick, Sara.
The race course is through the University of Central Florida campus and runners can choose to complete the five mile (as my guy did), the two mile or if you’re an overachiever like Sara and me (and you love collecting bling), you can run both races and earn a Distance Dare medal. Plus bragging rights.
I ran this race back in 2011, so I was familiar with the course. Most of it is on the streets through campus, which is nice because the runners can spread out. A small portion of each race is on narrower sidewalks in between buildings- this hits far enough in on the five mile that the crowds have thinned, so it isn’t a big deal. On the two, it’s a slightly annoying because you pretty much end up walking at certain points. Still, as UCF alums (Josh and Sara) and a fan by marriage (me), we were happy to be charging through Knights country.
Sara and I have been running together for about five months now, and at the beginning of September, I told her that I wanted help her run at a 9:30-9:35 pace for the race. This is faster than we usually run together, so we switched up our normal routine and met at the gym once a week to run at race pace. I knew we could do it, and I told her that I would stay with her no matter what (but we were SO reaching our goal. Maybe I’m a little bit bossy. It runs in the Chick family.)
We donned our (matching) gold and black outfits and met about 30 minutes before the race began. I hadn’t slept much the night before (little dude is still waking quite a bit) but having a clear goal energized me. The pumpkin spice coffee didn’t hurt either.
This was my first race since having the baby, and it felt so good to be out there again. To get up before sunrise, pin a bib on my shirt, hear all of the garmins beep before the race began, and run with a big group of people. Coincidentally, my last race (at the beginning of my pregnancy) was a 5k on the UCF campus, at which I ran with Sara’s husband.
The first three miles were great- my legs felt good and I talked Sara’s ear off about a variety of topics; including the appropriate age to wear an embroidered t-shirt, our daughters matching Halloween costumes (PNK sorority monsters), and tailgating plans for the upcoming football game.
It was harder to keep pace on the last two miles. Before the race, we agreed that I would keep time, so I set up the virtual pacer on my (purple) Garmin 10. It beeps if you’re ahead or behind pace, so I knew how we were faring. We slowed a bit, then sped up, and I tried to give my friend some words of encouragement and hoped I wasn’t irritating her. She has strong legs and a solid running foundation. She’s a marathoner! She just hadn’t ever trained to run faster. I really wanted to see her achieve this goal because I totally knew she could.
In the end, we crossed the finish line with an average pace of 9:31 (me) and 9:32 (Sara). We did it! I am so proud of her and I enjoyed every minute of racing together. She’s helped me stay motivated as I’ve gotten back into running shape- meeting me in the early morning or once our kids were in bed, so I didn’t have to do it on my own (because let’s face it- I’m one tired mama. If I didn’t have someone holding me accountable, I’m not sure I’d be half-marathon ready at this point.) I was happy to be able to give some motivation back to her.
Once we finished the five, we had some downtime before the two miler. I wanted to see Josh finish, so I started to walk back along the course. I spotted him about a quarter of a mile before the finish and jumped in to run alongside him for a tiny stretch- and give him some encouragement too. I’m less peppy cheerleader to him and a little more drill sergeant, but he sped up. Probably to get away from me, but hey, whatever works.
After J finished, we all met up with our families and had a quick snack. Race fuel has become a tricky business for me, because I recently got Invisalign invisible braces. (which are actually pretty visible, if you’re wondering.) The aligners have to be taken out if I want to eat, and then I’m supposed to brush and floss before putting them on again. For this race, I decided to drink some Gatorade between the two races and hoped that was enough for me.
We enjoyed our family time a bit too much and ended up dashing to the two mile start after it had begun. As a result, we ended up with the strollers, the walkers and the kids. It would have been fine (I stick to the outside of the pack anyway) except, as I mentioned before, a portion of this course is narrow. I don’t like running in a tight crowd, and Sara and I hadn’t agreed to run together for the two, so I took off on my own. I finished quickly, collected my medal and walked over to meet our families.
Next up was the kids dash, in which my two girls, and Sara’s daughter and son ran. They got t-shirts, ribbons and Rice Krispie treats once they finished. Happy runners, everyone.
I’m glad to be racing again! This is a fun local race and I love that the entire family can participate.
Next up for me is Wine and Dine, and I think I’m going to do the OUC half shortly after that. Seems like I’ve been bitten by the racing bug again.
Have you ever paced anyone for a race? Are you peppy or commanding? Any upcoming races? Talk to me in the comments!