Chris Thater Memorial 5k Race ~ 2015

I ran this race for the first time last year. It was a fast course through the neighborhoods of Binghamton, NY. This year they changed the course.  I liked this one much better.  This race brings people from all over for the bicycle races and the 5k.  Here is a brief description of these very competitive events:

 The race attracts over 1,000 participants from local athletes to world-class competitors with crowds of up to 5,000 spectators. The Chris Thater Memorial consists of the Pro, Elite and Novice cycling events, and a 5K Run through the Westside of Binghamton. The Chris Thater Memorial also features  demonstrations and other youth sports and special events.

Before I race I look at the times of my AG from the year before.  My goal was to try to run a sub25 minute 5k, however I knew that wouldn't be enough to place in this race.  Last year the top women in my AG were all 23 minutes and under (the woman who placed 1st ran it in 19:21!!!).  Like I said, this is a very competitive race in our area.  

I was so close in my last 5k, 25:13. Since this is my last racing 5k of the year (for right now anyway) I really wanted to break into the Sub25 category. JJ gave me a really tough track workout this past week that helped me get physically and mentally ready for this race.  She scheduled me for 1000m repeats at race pace.  I was able to stay at or below race pace for almost all of them.  I really didn't like her while I was doing them but afterwards I felt great. I think they helped prepare me for this 5k more than anything else!

The rest of the week was pretty calm for me.  My first 5k this season, I was freaking out because I wanted to run a specific pace and I shattered my expectations, plus I had NO idea how to race a 5k.  My 2nd 5k, I was freaking out because I was afraid the 1st was a fluke! This race was different for me.

I won't say I knew I had it, I know that anything can happen race day to make or break the race, but to date, it was my most confident race. I felt ready. Even My Musician noticed how I didn't obsess with nervous energy for days before.  My biggest concern was my splits.  I historically (even in last year's races) go out way too fast, choke in the 2nd mile and try to make it up in the 3rd mile. I had to nail my pace for every mile in this race.

I woke up feeling great.  I had a great visit with the "Throne", I know, TMI but any runner knows the significance and value of such a visit. I was playing my Sub30-uber-secret-women's-group-playlist, while making my pre-race smoothie and all my major motivation songs came on to get me further pumped up. We got downtown early. One more bathroom break, at least first thing in the morning the porta potties aren't totally terrifying and off I go for my warmup.

I know I said it before but I used to think those that ran around before a race were crazy using up their energy. This summer I've learned the value of a great warm up. I ran a 2 mile gentle warm up over the bridges and through the city of Binghamton. I love to run along the River Walk and hear the water rushing over the rocks. It's so peaceful and calming.  I needed that.  The warmup helped to calm any last nerves I had.  15 minutes before the race. Perfect timing.  OH, another run to the porta potties.  Dang coffee makes me go a million times, that and nerves!!

Again I placed myself close to the front. Unfortunately, my sense of belonging up there is still suffering because I didn't get close enough.  I missed placing 3rd in Overall Masters (they do all placements by gun time, not net time) by 2 seconds!!

Oh crap, I forgot to do my leg swings. As the girl starts to sing the Anthem I whip out a couple of leg swings. There, that will have to do too late now to worry about it.

At the start line

And we're off! 
The gun goes off and we get moving into race pace really quick.

Mile 1: I look down after about a .10 and I'm doing a 6:46. Crap. MUST slow down.  By the time I hit .5 mile and was on Leroy Street I was holding the pace I was suppose to be at.

I used to think a lot when I'd run a race. No longer. My main thoughts are I hope I don't die but during this mile I had a pretty cool moment.  We're all running along, there's no chit chat happening at this pace and all I could hear was all the different foot falls. It was such a neat sound to run to. The moment didn't last long, mile 1 was coming to an end.

Mile 2: As I passed the timing clock I was thrilled to see I was right on pace! I knew this mile was my make or break mile. For some reason I slow way down here. I just couldn't afford to do that.  I worked hard to keep my pace where it should be.

My Musician reminded me before the race to try to run the tangents so I run as little of the 3.1 miles as I could.  Mile 1.2  we turned onto Beethoven St, I hugged that curve so tight I was afraid I'd trip on the curb.  Dang, I don't remember this incline looking so steep! It slowed me down to a 8:38 pace and then right back to a 7 something once I got up on level ground.

This is where the wheels tried to fall off.  I got going too fast (about a 7 min mile). I couldn't get air in. It felt like my chest was compressed. I tried to take deep breathes, that didn't help. I was getting dizzy, my arms were tingly and I felt on the verge of hyperventilating. This has happened before but it was closer to the end of a race and once on hill repeats.  I looked at my watch. I was 20 seconds ahead where I should be in this mile. I actually contemplated walking for 20 seconds!! Then my brain kicked in and I just slowed my run to an 8 minute pace.

I was just starting to catch my breath and who do I see?? JJ!!!  Seeing her was such a boost for me! I had slowed down a bit too much but was able to get right back into my pace. I mean, really, when your coach is watching you race, you have to be putting forward your best!

Picture of me running that JJ captured out on the course. 
So glad this mile is just about over. I turned right onto Court Street. Again, another curb hugging turn, right into blaring sun.  Crap. Most of mile 2 is run on a beautiful tree lined, shady road. That's over now, nothing but sun the rest of the way.

Mile 3:  When I hit the mark for mile 3 right at 16 minutes, I wanted to do a little dance of excitement but I knew I'd best just keep moving.  A good chunk of this mile is a slight uphill. I didn't feel it during this race. I know it slowed me a bit but I felt really strong during mile 3, instead of being convinced I was dying and would never run again.  I actually felt like I could push it but was afraid to  because of my breathing.

Then a real downhill across the bridge, left hand turn onto Water St. This was the first time I switched  the screen on my Garmin from my pace screen to the mileage.  I was shocked and excited to see it was 2.8 miles! Yes, it was almost over!!

2.9 Dear God, thank you for the shade of this building. I wondered for a second if I could just hang out in shade a bit....

Right hand turn onto Henry Street and another small incline. I passed some guys on this incline. That felt really good to zip by them. Right hand turn onto State Street.  Where is the mile 3 marker??? Why can't I see the finish line yet?  Ok, calm down, it's right up there. And there's a white spray painted line marking mile 3!! Only .10 left to go. I pick it up to a sprint pace at this point.  I still can't see the clock, I have no idea what my time is.  Finally I can see it's 24:35.  I'm pushing about a 7 min pace and can't breath. I don't care, I'll breathe when I'm done. I cross the finish line and YES!! Sub25! I did it!!

Official gun time 24:48. Net time 24:45!! 
Not only did I meet my goal, I had the added bonus of placing in my AG! I didn't see that one happening!! AND not only did I place in my AG but I placed 1st in my AG. A lot of hard work and a lot of prayer has gotten me here!  It's humbling to be running in the footsteps of the women I've looked up to. It's also very exciting!

Shortly after finishing. 

On top of all the excitement of the day, I still had my long run miles to get in. I was supposed to run 2 cool down miles but I didn't exactly follow my coaches instructions. After we left the race, I had My Musician drop me off about 5 miles from home.  I needed to run 10 miles for the day so I still had 5 miles to go.

I can never do negative splits on my runs but was running them today. I decided not to turn towards the hill to home and stayed on the flat road and just had hubs pick me up when I was done.  These miles were just melting away. I was happy running.  I couldn't help but think about the emotional pain that drove me back to running last year. I remember thinking on one of my runs that I was afriad of letting go of the pain because I was afraid I'd stop running. In the last 4 months, I let go of that pain. I'm no longer running from pain.

I'm running to push myself, to see where my limits are, to compete locally, to have quiet time with My Musician and to just again enjoy running.

As I'm running mile 5 at 9:12 pace, I'm tired and sore but grinning ear to ear because it's been a good day.

I realized I was finally free to run just for the joy of running.


  1. Great race, and a great recap! But, Finding Freedom! That is what is so wonderful. And that it sneaks up on you over time, until the day comes that you realize what a joy it is. But like everything else, it takes the hard work and dedication to reach that point. In running, in music, in life in general. I feel that freedom when I strap on my bass and plug in, but I also know the years of work that went in to reaching that point. I want to find that freedom with the running also, but I'm not there yet. I'm so excited for you and your running, and it makes me want to rush home and lace up and go for a run! Thanks Kirsten! - BryanB


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