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Set A New Goal

This past weekend, I completed my second 5K race. The first race was about finishing and about meeting my Life List goal of finishing a 5K. After that race, I started wondering how much better I could do in the next one. I started wondering how much faster I could finish. I started to wonder how much harder I could push myself.

I did sustain a minor injury following the first 5K race. I had patellar tendinitis, which is more annoyingly painful than anything. I put it into the category of the "Why does my _____ hurt?" part of getting older. I am 47 years old, after all. Some nights I am dragging myself to bed, only to wake up in the morning feeling as good as new. Maybe that is the reason I have not conceded that I am getting "old."

As I planned to participate in the Firecracker Flight sponsored by Bodies Race Company this past weekend, I decided I was going to improve my time over the last race. Therefore, I set out a planned strategy for increasing and improving my time over the five days period leading up to the race.

Photo by Jeanette R. Harrison

Day 1: I walked like I normally walked every day. I used that as my baseline time. I discovered I was taking a nice leisurely stroll at 78 minutes. Even I knew that wasn't really an acceptable time for me. My average mile time was around 24 minutes 30 seconds.  Still, it gave me something to work on.

Day 2: I pumped up my jam and played some serious upbeat tunes while I was walking. That helped me set my pace. I was able to get my pace down to below 20 minutes on the last mile, but I still did a 24 minutes mile on the first minute. When I went home that day, I decided that I needed to get under 20 minutes on every mile.

Day 3: I played upbeat music again. Only this time, I made sure it was ready to go as soon as I took my first step for my 5K training. I didn't randomly start my time as I was walking. I made a decided effort at what place I was starting my timer and when I was setting my pace. I had a pretty solid walk and had an even split with all miles being around 20 minutes or slightly under.

Day 4: I was excited by this point. I had already taken off 14 minutes of my baseline time. I thought I was doing great for the week. And, some of the days, my times included stopping to chit chat with fellow trail users. This day, I was feeling confident. I added a slight jog to the mix and jogged here and there hoping to bring down my time to my first 5K time. It didn't happen. I was slightly above it at 56 minutes. I was feeling a little discouraged but also encouraged because I took another 8 minutes off my baseline time for the week. I told myself I would pick up those other 6 or 7 minutes the next day.

Day 5: I was nervous. I was determined. I was hot. It was almost 90 degrees in the shade. I decided I was going to get those 6 or 7 minutes that morning. I jogged more of the 5K than I ever jogged before. I felt good about myself for doing that. Unfortunately, I didn't beat my time. I had the same time as the day before. Still, I had a small victory of jogging the most I had probably jogged in over a decade.

Day Off: I took the next day off. I needed to rest my body and my mind. I had to relax and get myself mentally prepared for the race the next day.

Race Day: I set my goal for the race to take an extra minute off my time for the last race. That meant that I wanted my average time to be around a 15 minutes mile. Still, I knew what I had done in training earlier in the week. I told myself not to be disappointed in whatever time I received and to just relax and enjoy myself.

Although there really weren't that many more people at the race, it seemed like more. Maybe because the course was narrower or maybe because more people were grouped together. I don't know. I did jog at the beginning of the race, but I stopped when another participant stopped in front of me. I kept going. "It doesn't matter what your time is," I told myself. "Just do your best, have fun, and finish." As I went throughout the race, I cheered on other participants as I saw them coming up the hills in opposite directions, and I cheered myself on, too. "You can do this," I said aloud to myself. "You got this. You're doing good." Sometimes, you have to be to your own cheerleader.

Finally, it was the last mile. I set the timer on my watch to 16 minutes. I felt like this had been a slow race, and I didn't even jog as much of it as I would have liked. I walked considerably more than I had planned on. Then, the finish line came into sight. I could see the timer as I was going up the last little incline, and I couldn't believe my eyes. The timer said 46 minutes! That meant that as long as I made it up the hill in the next 3 minutes, then I would definitely beat my time from the last race. I was excited! I picked up my pace and used what energy I had left to run over the finish line. I ended at 46:16, and beat my goal of a 15 minutes mile by averaging 14:56 a mile.