I signed up for the East Bay 510k about two weeks before the race on a whim because I liked the shirt they posted that came with registering. (Yeah, that happened) I hadn’t done any short distances races yet this year and thought I was due for a short and speedy 5k to test my fitness at that level. As it turned out, my marathon training partner and I ended up scheduling our last long training run for the Chicago Marathon in a few weeks the Saturday before, a 20 miler no less. So I knew that my best 5k was not in the cards, but what I wasn’t ready for, was to place in the top three women!

This was a smaller local race with about 650 people running and walking the 5k, I approached the start line to get there early and check out the faster runners, I spotted Leilani, a girl who I had been following and friends with on Instagram, but we had never met in real life!! I was excited to give her a big hug and finally meet her in person and knew she was going to be up as one of the top contenders in the women’s division. Then i picked a spot a few rows back from the line and focused in on my race.

I was up near the front as the gun went off, and started the first quarter of a mile neck and neck with Leilani, I checked my watch and knew I had to dial back as trying to keep up with her was going to be impossible for me. I dialed back, but kept her in my sights. It was just her and I in the front until another girl passed me with a strong pace. That girl ended up finishing in 1st place and she was only 15! Around mile two, I was slowly dying and feeling the tiredness of my legs from the day before when I noticed Leilani start to slow down (I found out later, as I suspected, she was fighting off an injury). I passed her with one mile to go and knew I had to just hold my pace, but at any second I was waiting for her to push and pass me again. It was kind of thrilling, exhausting and motivating at the same time thinking about all this while running.

I crossed the finish line at 21:48 with a second place finish. For the first time in my whole running career I secured a podium spot in a race of any kind! I am the first to admit, this wasn’t a super competitive field and I know my time is far from “fast,” by some standards (I also know it’s super fast by others!) but that finish line feeling gets me every time and no matter what the distance is, I always try to put my all out on the course and last weekend I did just that and it came with small reward. 

The funny thing is, running for me, isn’t about winning anything. It never has been and it never will be. But I did get a huge sense of accomplishment crossing that line, I put in a lot of work for this sport, and you don’t always get a lot back on paper. I love getting new PRs and shaving on seconds on my mile time and encouraging others to believe in themselves the most and that is always enough for me. I love seeing in hard facts, numbers and statistics what you can achieve and how you can improve when you put in the work to something. Running is still about becoming the best version of me and I still have a lot of room for improvement, but this last weekend was just the self confidence boost I needed to reach for higher goals.

In love and running,

J



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