Toys 4 Tots Race Recap

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This afternoon, my dad and I ran in the Toys 4 Tots 5k at Innsbrook in Richmond. I’ll be brutally honest from the get-go: I barely prepped for this race. Of course, we weren’t participating competitively. We ran in it to improve our time (he set a 34-minute goal for us) and to help out some kids who aren’t as fortunate come Christmas time. When I say I barely prepped, I mean that I had good intentions last week, but I experienced a few hiccups. Then, I came home on Thursday and I didn’t fit a single workout into my weekend.

I know every runner is different, but my pre-race breakfast is usually pretty big. This morning I had a Greek yogurt topped with pomegranate arils and granola, a hearty bowl of Cheerios topped with fresh sliced banana, a cup of coffee, and a bottle of water. That was about 10:00; like clockwork, I was hungry again at 11:30, so I whipped up some sliced Asian pear with crunchy PB. [Side note — you’d think that among all these meals I’d be as big as a house, but I’ve actually lost 3 more pounds!] Then, because my blood sugar is about as predictable as an active meth lab, I packed one of my favorite KIND bars in case I needed it before the race.

Rather than focusing on completing 3.1 miles in 34 minutes, we decided to set a pace that was comfortable for us, and then pick it up toward the end. At our last 5k, we accomplished our goal of 35 minutes by the skin of our teeth. I had yet to be able to shave off a whole minute from my time in the gym, where the treadmill provides me consistency, level ground, and a constant pace. As I also mentioned, I hadn’t done a great deal of prep work or training… or any at all. I wasn’t confident going into it, but I was certainly willing to try.

We stretched at home, we stretched at the race, and then we stretched some more. I knew for a fact I was hydrated; I woke up twice in the middle of the night to pee, I had to go three times before we left the house, and I (reluctantly) used the Port-o-Potties twice before the race started. I wasn’t taking any chances today. I knew I was well-fueled and mentally prepared.

I felt GREAT for the first mile or so. After we passed the water station, I started cramping a bit. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle, so I put it out of my mind and on we ran. As we rounded the halfway markers, I told myself what I always do at that point: Less than halfway to go now. I asked Dad, “What’s our time?” and he said we were at 19 minutes. I didn’t know how that could be, since I knew we were keeping a pace faster than we ever had, and I knew how good I felt mentally and physically. He said, “It’s all downhill from here!” meaning that figuratively, he was encouraging me as I had pep-talked myself.

It was an out-and-back course, so as we passed the water station again, I asked for a time-check. He said we were at 34 minutes. My heart sank. How could we be at 34 minutes with more than half a mile to go and at the pace we had kept? I even felt as though we had picked it up on the second half, even though the course was slightly uphill on the second leg. As we rounded one of the last corners he said, “About a quarter-mile to go. You’re doing great.” At that point, I was ready to be finished running, my lungs were burning, and my calves were starting to feel the brunt of pounding pavement.

Then, we crested the last hill into the finish line… and I saw the clock — 33:25. He lied! We had 35 seconds to cross the finish line, and about 50 yards to go. I said, “RUN!” and we high-tailed it across that line. As it turns out, we were at just over 16 minutes at the halfway point, and when I asked for the second time-check, we were at about 28 minutes. He told me later that he didn’t know whether his strategy would serve as a motivator or a disheartener, but I think it worked quite well for me!

Our “official” time was 33:57, but Dad had clocked us on his watch from start to finish because we weren’t at the front of the pack when the race started — 33:46 — our best time yet! I tried to let the glory of our accomplishment sink in as we walked around and stretched out. We found a water station and grabbed half a banana and a Fig Newton bar each. I think I was still in awe as we made our way to the car and watched fellow racers rounding the last turn.

As always, my only real goal was to run the entire race without stopping. We accomplished that and then some! God will probably smite me for skipping church, but I think He’s proud of us for kicking ass today 😉 Nobody was able to come to the race with us, so I asked my mom to take a picture of us in our race regalia when we got home:

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Happy Sunday, blends! I’m off to Brio Tuscan Grille for dinner and drinks with my parents and some friends from church before a concert at the University of Richmond!

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