Battle for Ballston 5K: race report

Okay, it's super full-disclosure time.  (This will be long).

I had IT band surgery in 2006.  I didn't really start running again until 2008.  My first 5K post-surgery was on 10/14/08, and I ran a 32:45 and wanted to die.  I signed up 2 days before the event and was bib number 13.  I think less than 100 people ran it, and while I wasn't dead last, I was alone.  
Ugh, done.

Since then, I've run a handful of races around my various injuries - stress fracture, other IT band issues, weird foot mystery no one ever figured out.  I've also had a DNS for 3 major races (10M, 13.1, 10M) that I've done 80% of the training for and gotten injured within 2 weeks of the race.  Running and I have a love-hate relationship.  I love running, and it hates me IN THE FACE.

The second race I ran post-surgery was a Turkey Trot (November 2008) up in PA.  My sister and her friend were running it, and my only goal was to finish enough ahead of her that I could casually say, "oh good, you're FINALLY done" when she rolled in.  It was the hilliest motherfucking race I've ever done in my entire life, and I choked and gasped to finish in 29:07 - my 5K PR.  Hush, fast people, just button your lip.
My 5K PR.  A turkey still beat me.

My life went through tons of upheaval from the time I got hurt (March 2009) until the time I started running again (January 2010).  And I've been injured all spring, but fighting desperately against it.  At last week's 5K, I had to stop so many times, and was hurting so badly by the end that I spent the week secretly thinking about when I could schedule the surgery to fit between fall cycling and spring racing.  The few 5K's since the crazy foot injury (33:17, 31:34, 31:16) have led me to believe that it was going to be a while before I could even touch that PR.  The treadmill running I've been doing at the gym has been much faster, but I just don't trust it - even with the .5% - 1.5% incline on.
31:34. I'm the slog in the background.  
My shoulder is grossly swollen because I'm 10 days post-surgery.
My ass is grossly swollen because I eat too much ice cream.

I didn't realize how small the race was until I showed up this morning, but I was happy for that.  I was also really glad to be meeting 5-7 of my awesome twitter friends there, even though they are all much speedier than me.  I decided last night to chase my PR.  I don't know why.  I think it was the beer talking.

But it was great to have people to chat with while waiting to start, and even though I watched them all blast off into the distance when the race started, I could tell their supportive karma was floating back to me in their wake.  The race wasn't chip-timed, and was a "ready, set, go" kind of start.  It was 73* at race start, which felt ridiculous compared to the past few weeks, and the course was mostly in the shade.  I looked down at my watch a few times at first to try and settle in around 9:20 (my I-will-PR-goddammit-pace), but it kept showing low 8:xx, so I figured the calibration was off and decided to ignore it.  I didn't see or hear a 1-mile mark, although I heard that there was one, but my music was blasting and I was in my little zone.  There were some tiny little hills which felt like mountains after all the treadmill training I've been doing, but I just picked a girl who was running a little bit faster than me and tried to stay on her tail. I made it past the 2-mile point before I needed to stop and stretch out the IT, and I had to stop and stretch it again around the 2.75 mark.  

I figured a PR was probably not going to happen because I had to stop, but I just kept rewinding my current power song ("Kiss and Tell" by K$sha, don't judge) and kept going.  Now, the only mile-marker I saw was the 2-mile marker, chalked onto the trail, but my watch said that we were at the 2.55 mile point.  I said, "what the FUCK?!" pretty loudly and a bunch of people around me laughed.  Fortunately, it was dead wrong, because it wasn't much further before I saw Brittany running the course back to find me.  She ran with me for a short stretch and told me the finish was just around the corner.  I don't think I've ever had anyone run a course back to find me once they were done, and I can't even say how much I appreciated it.  When I turned the corner, I looked up and saw 27 on the clock and my heart just exploded.  I croaked out, "Holy shit!!" and took off.  Garmin said I was running a 6:31 pace over the last .15.  Ha!  I crossed the line at 27:40 and stopped my watch (3.15 miles), which said 27:35.  Since the race wasn't chip-timed and I know I started at least 5 seconds back, if not more, I'm taking the 27:35 and calling it my new 5K PR!!!
Awesome running friends.

We headed immediately to brunch.

I've said it before, but I'm going to keep saying it: I love the running/blogging/tweeting community that I finally feel a part of here in DC.  I don't know that I've ever had such a supportive group of athletic friends - and a sincere kind of supportive, no matter what the clock says when we all cross that finish line.  I'm thankful to Brittany for putting this one together, and for everyone that showed up, and for everyone that will show up next time, and for all the tweets and texts and comments and emails, and I can't wait until we can pile into a race again.  

And I am thankful - so very thankful, today - for most this amazing day.


  1. Came across your blog looking for race results. Had same reaction seeing the erroneous 2 mile mark. Congrats on a great PR!

  2. Awesome and congrats on your PR!! :D I love reading race reports... something about them make me want to keep running :)

  3. YOU.FREAKING.ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! huge congrats :)

  4. Way to go!!!! Congrats and thanks for giving me hope that I might someday get a sub 28:00 PR! :)

  5. Well done! Came upon this by accident, I was the other guy in the blinding Brooks outfit. Stopped to talk to Joe for a minute and watched him run with you. Great day for a PR, I had a nice one myself!


  6. Way to GO! Girl, when you PR, you do it like you mean it! Great job and congratulations!!!

  7. Go katie!! You are superwoman!! Hooray for the PR!

  8. Great job!!! Way to go!

    My kids already enjoyed a couple of Clif bars, so thanks!

  9. Congrats, friend! That is so awesome! I agree--it feels so good to have the support of a great community around you...that's how I got my 5K PR too! You kicked some major butt, and I'm so happy for you! still want to jump in at mile 10 for my 13.1 in Sept?

  10. Congratulations again! I still remember my big 5k break through race. It was amazing--and I've been chipping away at that time ever since. By fall I'm sure you'll have another PR :)

  11. Good job on the PR. I too ran the race and really liked running through the park.

  12. Way to go & congrats on the PR! I just started following you on twitter after finding your blog and got all excited when you tweeted Sat morning. :) Good for you!

  13. So sorry I missed what turned out to be a momentous race! That PR was only a matter of time, given how dedicated you are to not only training, but giving your body rest when that's what it needs. CONGRATS!

  14. Congratulations on your new PR!!! It's so awesome and you are so funny!

  15. Great job girly! Congrats on the new PR and on your journey!!!

  16. PR!!! KATIE! KICK ASS! So sorry I missed the fun and seeing you smash that old PR to smithereens!! I am so proud!

  17. PR BITCH! Whoo hoo! And...I LOVED this post. All the while I was complaining about my runs, I knew in the back of my mind, that any day we can run is a good day - NO MATTER WHAT! You smashed that PR chica, good job!
    You're gonna break 27 easily!

  18. Awesome! Way to go! Sorry I missed this one too. I will be at the next tweet up. I am sllllllllooooowwww but I will be there.

  19. I love this post! It makes me realize that I really should find some running buddies in AZ. Great job on your PR - YOU ROCK!

  20. WOW!!! Great job! I can tell you had a lot of fun. :)


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