Last Saturday night I ran the Meet Downtown Night Run 5k, the first leg in the Gabe Zimmerman Triple Crown. The week before I’d been down in Bahia de Kino, on the central coast of Sonora, Mexico. Lo, these many years ago I used to live there, doing seabird and wading bird monitoring, as well as environmental education and community outreach work for Prescott College, who has a field station there. It was a wonderful week with some reunions with friends I hadn’t seen in four+ years, but the point of telling you that is to say that I spent all day Saturday driving home from Mexico, navigating Hermosillo traffic, waiting at the border crossing in Nogales, and making it back to Tucson in the late afternoon, just few hours before the race started. Ideal? No, but it was enough time, and enough is as good as a feast.
I was a little out of it after a week of early rises and all-day meetings, not to mention a full day of driving, but I quickly found my friends who were also running.
It was a bigger race than I was expecting. My friends said they’d heard there were 3,000 people registered, and it was crowded. Although the sun was starting to think about going down, it was Tucson on May 30. It was hot. I was glad that I’d arrived close to the start time so I didn’t have to stand around waiting.
Before long we all moved over to course. My friend Claudia and I planned to run together. I told her I was hoping to go sub-27. She told me that she was just hoping to keep up with me. The announcer counted down from then and…we all started to shuffle forward. It took a couple of minutes at least to cross the start line, everyone jostling for room. (It was also awesome to see Tucson come out for this race, all ages, sizes, and ability levels.)
Mile 1: 8:43
There was a huge crush at the start. I’m not the zippiest runner, so I didn’t push my way to the front of the pack before the gun. Because of this I spent the first half a mile dodging around walkers and slower people. Claudia and I quickly got separated, but I just kept on going. It was hot and I was suddenly thirsty. I had taken a big slug of water before I left my car, not 30 minutes earlier. It was only a 5k, so I hadn’t brought any water but I was already thirsty. Not the best sign.
Mile 2: 8:41
I wasn’t looking at my watch. I felt thirsty and sluggish and slow and was just hoping to keep my miles under 9 minutes. I wanted some chapstick. I wanted some water. Spectators were taking pity on the runners and had pulled garden hoses to the street and were spraying us as we ran by. That helped. I grabbed a cup of water at an aid station, and that really helped. I drank some and poured the rest over my head. Somewhat refreshed, I pushed on.
Mile 3: 8:53
The last mile. Time to put my head down and go for it. At least, that’s what I kept telling myself. Alas, the body doesn’t always do what the mind tells it to do. I snagged another cup of water early in this mile and then with about three-quarters of a mile to go I heard someone come up behind me hollering, “Jennie!” It was Claudia, who’d somehow found me. She said, “Come on, let’s go! If we push we can still beat 27!” She pulled ahead slightly, and I did my best to keep up with her.
Mile .1: 1:00
I had been thinking in my head that three times 9 equals 27, so I just needed to keep each mile under 9 minutes to go sub 27. Funny how conveniently I forgot that a 5k is 3.1 miles, not 3 miles. The 27th minute ticked by. I crossed the finish line. My friend and coach Brian was waiting there, giving high fives. Claudia and I got some water and our medals.
Finish time: 27:17, good for 15th out of 146 in my age group. I didn’t get under 27 minutes, but I did shave 20 seconds off of my time from my race last fall, so that was nice. (If Claudia hadn’t pushed me, I’m not sure that I would have done that). I have run 5k in under 27 minutes in practice, so I know I can do it. Now I just have to bring it to the race.
(Next up in this series is an 8-miler through the beautifully winding hills of Saguaro National Park in September, followed by the third and final race is in October, a half marathon through the streets of Tucson.)