The number keeps getting smaller. And I like it.
I ran the Scheel's Sunset 5K at Sunset Park in Kimberly, Wis., on Friday night. It's part of four-day community festival and this was the third year I ran the event.
Since the run was at 6:30 p.m., I headed up to my parents' house on Friday afternoon and dropped my stuff off there before heading over to the park around 5:30ish. While driving over, the dark clouds filling the sky looked unfriendly and eventually it started raining. Oh, and did I mention it was like 62 degrees? Yeah. Great weather for mid-July.
Anyway, got to the park, waited out the rain in the car, debated whether to take my iPod with me (I did) and eventually met up with my sister-in-law and The Rugrats. We headed into the park, picked up our race numbers and T-shirts and waited for the race to start.
Like I said, it's part of a community festival and there were about 500 runners/walkers participating this year. It's a nice little 2-lap course through the park the surrounding neighborhood. This year they changed it up and reversed the direction. So instead of running up a long, gradual hill towards the finish line, you were immediately greeted with a steep incline moments after the starting line (still, nothing compared to High Cliff).
I didn't have many expectations for the run. But knowing I had just clocked my fastest 5K time on Sunday at the end of the Trek Women's Triathlon, there was a part of me that was hoping to turn in a sub-35 time.
The national anthem was sung and the starting gun went off. I started running. The hill greeted me immediately. Wasn't too bad. Just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Got to the top of the hill and turned off into the neighborhood. The pack of people was starting to thin out a bit at this point, so I settled into a nice steady pace. Felt good. Passed the one mile marker around 10:40. Not bad.
Remember how I said it was cold, wet and dreary out? Well add to it humid. The pre-run rain left it kind of humid and as a result my sunglasses were fogging up terribly. Yes, there was no sun so I didn't really need the sunglasses. But I like 'em. It's like my safety blanket. I wear my sunglasses all the time. Even when I'm driving down the highway, with my windshield wipers on.
So the humidity was making them fog up. I was nearing the park and knew my Mom would be standing somewhere around the finish line. My plan was to try to hand off the sunglasses. Another little uphill. There she was. Camera in hand, Rugrats cheering me on. I took the sunglasses off, handed them off to a surprised Mom and kept running.
Halfway done. Even managed to make it through the first lap before the lead runner broke the finish line tape.
Second half of the run went pretty well. Passed Mile 2, glanced down at my watch and saw about 22: 45. Still not too bad. Had slowed down a bit, but I'll blame that on the hills. Kept running.
Soon I was on the last stretch of road in the neighborhood with just the little hill into the park and the finish line. Kept running, tried to pick up the pace a bit. Passed a girl or two. Got to that last little hill and kicked it into high gear.
Sprinted up the hill and to the finish line.
35 minutes, 3 seconds.
Just missed my goal for a sub-35 5K, but I'll still take it. That's a total of 2 minutes, 2 seconds that I've shaved off my 5K since April.
Yes, it's not quite the 31 minute, 56 second 5K PR I set on this same course back in July 2007 - in the midst of my half marathon training - but the number is going down and getting to closer to where I was before The Monster decided to invade my head. My next stand alone 5K is in late September, maybe by that point I'll be back to pre-Monster pace. Or at least another minute or two faster.