Today I missed our weekly Winter Rider Group.  I did not bail because of the wet and chilly 35 degree weather.  I was headed off to a 5k to try to best my turkey trot time and make my WRG buddies proud of course.  The race was put on by the rotary club and headquartered at “The Diamond” home of the Richmond Squirrels Baseball Team, hence the Nutsy name.  Or, the name could indicate the nature of the participants who toed the line at ridiculous o’clock on a holiday season Saturday morning.  Nicks company holiday event was last night so in less than 8 hours I went from cocktail dress to wicking sweats.  Tis the season!  : ) 

This week, Coach Michael mentioned he suspected I went out a bit too hard last time (my first mile split was a minute faster than my last) and he advised me to pace it more conservative in the first mile and then continue to push.  My reaction, 

“You want me to lose 30 seconds right off the bat?  I don’t want to run slower?”  Now, I realize I should “know” this pacing concept after 5 years in the sport and I DO but I struggle stop this creative imagination right before a race.  Plus, it’s hard to apply the principals at times.  I was worrying if I didn’t gain enough time in the beginning I couldn’t make it up later.  Well, coach turned out to be right!  

I warmed up and caught up with Andrew, one of Endorphin’s strength coaches at the start line who was also running.  I met some new race day buddies in the crowd.  Also I ran into an EF athlete who said, “oh, I know why you look familiar.  Weren’t you the one who was on crutches and swimming in the endless pool all summer?”  I’m reply, “Yes, but not anymore!”
That reminder was perfect mental fuel for pushing hard.  As much as the pain of a 5k burns through the entire body especially in the end, nothing is harder than the pain of not being able to experience it!  With tremendous gratitude in my heart… I found myself racing again. 
It was a straightforward out and back with only a few turns.  I held back in the first mile and then began looking ahead and closing out the gap on runners ahead. It was incredibly fun.  My heart was pounding, legs were screaming and the chilly air was sharp with each labored breathe but I noticed at the out and back that I had worked my way to first woman just before the 1.5 mile mark.  I pushed to maintain it and was challenged along the way by my mind, my garmin watch and fellow athletes.  On the last slight hill back to the finish, Coach Andrew joined me step for step.  I was grateful for the company.  
My time was a good 10 seconds faster than last week and my first overall win.  I was super excited to see one of my EF and RVS teammates, Casey greeting me at the finish!  She was cheering for her dad.  This woman is hard core and is a true warrior and injury comeback queen role model.  I know we are both going to have a great 2014.