Before lining up at the starting line, I was fairly certain that I wasn't going to be finishing the race. I stood there continuing to stretch, getting my music ready, and planning my move to the outer edge just in case I needed to drop out. Then, all of the sudden, the race had begun and I took off. I spent about the first 30 seconds of the race fooling with my iPod while keeping up with the pack, then finally gave up on my perfect playlist and just went with whatever was playing. Despite my calf, I felt pretty good as the race adrenaline took over. I don't have a GPS or anything so although I didn't know exactly what pace I was at, I felt like I was going at a pretty good pace. I found a couple of girls who were running at about my pace and stuck to them whenever they started moving ahead. The first mile flew by, and when I saw the race clock at the 1 mile mark that read "7:26", I literally said "Holy Crap!" out loud! I never imagined that I was going any faster than 8:00 mile pace at the VERY least!
After seeing my mile time, the adrenaline kicked in even more as I continued and realized that I might actually be able to meet my life goal of completing a 5K race in under 26 minutes! I did slow down a bit because my calf was starting to knot up again, but I kept going and continually prayed that I was able to finish the race! By the time that I reached the 2 mile mark, I was at 16:00, which means my 2nd mile was only an 8:30 mile pace... still 30 seconds faster than the 9:00 mile pace that I was planning to run the race at! At that I point, I was SOO stoked to realize that I could slow down to nearly a 10:00 mile pace and still meet my 26:00 goal!
A little after the 2 mile mark, my calf really started to cramp up again, but I adjusted my step a little and was able to keep going. I really think worrying about my leg the whole time made the race minutes fly by because before I knew it I was at the 3 mile mark and turning the corner toward the finish line. I gave it everything I had to finish the last .11 miles as fast as possible without the cramp getting me. I crossed the finish line with an official time of 25:46 (even though I swear it read 25:45 when I crossed), and felt so amazingly elated!
After the race, I kept moving and drank lots of gatorade to try to keep my calf from seizing up. Regardless of my efforts, my calf got worse and worse until I was barely able to walk. I ate 6 bananas within about 12 hours because of this freakin' calf! 3 of my girl friends ran the race too, so we all hung around for the awards just in case. It turned out that the 3rd place girl in my age group (30-34) finished at 25:06, and I actually finished 4th in the age group and 44th (out of 228) in the girl's race overall (see the race results)!
I am still planning to run the Art Festival 5K race, which goes over the Melbourne Causeway so there is about .75 miles of steep uphill running, but will have to make another game-time decision based on how my calf is doing at that time. This race is 3 weeks away, so I may have to just stick to the elliptical until then to keep my lungs in shape. While I really want to run it, and think it was worth it to run through the pain in this last one (and enduring the pain that I suffered the rest of the day), I am getting on a plane for Amsterdam within 4 hours of the race start time and I am not about to risk limping through the airport and Europe for a race that I will be running again someday. :)