After I completed my marathon I wondered how I could top myself in running. How could I continue to challenge myself and push my limits when I had completed a 26.2 mile race? While the next level of insanity would be a 30- or a 50-miler, I know enough about my body and its limits to recognize that any distance greater than 26.2 miles is not on my bucket list.
So to keep myself motivated, I signed up for a different kind of experience, or should I say, two experiences. Yesterday morning, before most of the city even shifted under their covers, I stood in the shadow of the Washington Monument prepared to run the Pacers St. Patty’s 5k, and then the 10k, back to back.
In total, a 5k and 10k is shy of ten miles, far from the longest distance I have run, but it was the combination of the two races consecutively that intrigued me. Five kilometer races are meant to be speedy, meant to elevate the heart rate to near maximum levels, a threshold type pace that leaves you exhausted by the finish.
When I began the 5k race, I knew I wanted to go all out. I finished my first mile in 7:30 and though my pace slowed slightly for the final two, I managed to average a sub 8-minute mile pace for the race. Had I not been wearing so many layers and been slightly more conservative in my first mile pace, I know I could have finished faster.
But I didn’t have much time to dwell on it. Less than 15 minutes after crossing the finish line, I returned there again, this time as the starting line, for the 10k. Down from the Washington Monument, past the World War II and Lincoln memorials, I ran with the intention of just accumulating the miles and earning my double race medal. Yet perhaps it was the snowy mix or the less than scenic route, my legs went faster than I expected them to after the previous intense efforts. Averaging an 8:37 minute mile, I completed my second race before 10 am.
Distance wise, the races were not a challenge, but the combination of the two after a nearly 13-mile effort the day prior made for a mentally tough morning. There was a brief moment when I questioned whether I would stand back in the corrals for the 10k; I wondered if I was pushing myself too hard. But then as I ran and could feel the strength of my legs powering through, and my body staying warm amid the snow and ice that threatened my sneakers’ smooth landing on the pavement, I knew I couldn’t turn back on my commitment.
I stood at a starting line twice, and I crossed a finished line twice. I kicked off my racing season by knocking out two races in less than two hours. In all, I finished the weekend with two races finishes, a total of 22 miles and all in less than 24 hours.
Enthusiasm among runners is contagious when standing alongside them prior to the sound of a race’s air horn. It’s that enthusiasm and the recognition that you can’t be that crazy if there are hundreds of other people running alongside you in the sleet at 9 am that builds the adrenaline and makes racing all the more worthwhile. Bring on Rock N’Roll.