Bayou City Classic 5K

Last weekend, I ran in my first 5K since 1990, the Bayou City Classic.  The Bayou City Classic was originally just a 10K race, but in 2012, a 5K fun run was added to the lineup.  Proceeds from the race go towards helping maintain trails in Houston area parks.  I signed up on a whim because I'm not finished with my 5K training yet, but my friend, Jenny, was walking the 10K and I figured I had nothing to lose by participating.  I'm so glad I went ahead and signed up for this run because I had a FANTASTIC time (and the entry fee was super cheap)!

I was totally unprepared for this race.  Not only had I not finished my couch to 5k training, but I also only managed to get about 3 hours of sleep the night before.  My original plan was to stay home, lay out everything I would need the next morning, and go to bed early since I'm not a morning person at all.  Instead, Dennis, Jack, and I met up with some friends to see some camel races and didn't get home until 1am.  Jack didn't sleep well and I almost cancelled when I could hardly get out of bed that morning.  I barely had time for half a cup of coffee and I didn't have time for any breakfast before Jenny came to pick me up.  It was definitely looking like I'd pretty much only be walking this 5K.  Let's just say I wasn't at my best.

It was a great morning for a run.  The temperature was in the mid-60's and it was overcast but still bright.  We got downtown early and met up with Jenny's friend, Kristine who was also doing the 10K.  The three of us milled around watching all the elite runners warm up.  There was a lot of fanfare going on with the 10K.  An MC was calling out a countdown to race time, music was being played, and there was a really nice start line.  Jenny and Kristine lined up for the 10K start and I pulled out my iPhone to get some video of the race start.  I really wanted to get the whole, "runners take your mark" and BANG! of the start, but the MC obviously had no idea how to read a clock.  She said, "One minute to the start! One minute! Runners take your mar--" and then in the middle of what she was saying (and only about 15 seconds after she made the one minute call) BANG!  And the race started.  But in this video you can see most of the runners start the 10K.

I had to wait around for another 20 minutes for the start of the 5K and it wasn't nearly as ceremonious as the 10K start.  We didn't have a fancy start line, music, or (and I might not have heard this) a call for the runners to take our marks before the start gun.  Not that that mattered much to me since I'm so super slow there's no need for me to be front and center at the start line anyway.  I wasn't planning on running the whole way, either.  I was using my phone's Ease into 5K app to track my time/distance but not to time out my intervals.  My plan was to run as long as I could and then walk till I felt like I could run again.  At this point in my training, I had just finished Week 5, and should've been wrapping up Week 6, but Jack had been sick all week and I didn't have a chance to go run.   My only goal was to cross the finish line.

Dennis and Jack were going to come out to cheer me on along the race route, but at the start of the run, I hadn't heard from them yet.  I was a little disappointed because I really wanted the chance to run past them (and the route ran a circle around downtown before going down a parkway, so they could've seen me from a couple of spots), but it's never easy to get anywhere on time when you're traveling with a baby.  I just hoped they'd make it in time to see me cross the finish line.

The race started, and off I went.  I told myself to take it nice and slow and not to burn all my energy in the first hundred yards of the run and that when I needed to walk that it was okay to walk.  The first part of the race took us in a loop around part of downtown.  I love downtown Houston and really enjoyed the loop.  I tried taking a couple of shaky pics while I was running.  The streets weren't 100% blocked off for the runners; instead one lane of traffic was allowed and there were traffic cops at every intersection.  It was interesting to basically run into oncoming traffic!  I ended up keeping pace with the couple in front of me in this picture (in purple and in black) for most of the race.  I also used to work in the tall building you can see in the center of this picture (it's the tallest building in Houston).

I kept my head down and my feet moving, and when I finally checked my GPS to see how far I'd gone, it said 1.01 miles and at a pace of 11:23!!!  Never in my life, not even as a kid, had I run a mile without walking part of the way!!!  I couldn't believe it!!!  And I still felt great.  I wasn't too winded, and my legs didn't feel heavy at all, so i kept on running jogging.  I was still hoping to hear from Dennis while I was still downtown, but I certainly wasn't going to slow down to give them extra time to arrive.  I finally got a text from him as I was almost done with the downtown loop and was heading onto the parkway.  I told him to just wait for me at the finish line.  I was so relieved that they were going to see me at the finish!

As I made my way onto the parkway, I was about halfway through the race and I was still feeling pretty good.  I was definitely breathing harder and my legs were starting to get tired, but I felt like I could keep going.  When I made it to the halfway point, I decided to give myself a break and walk a little so I could make sure I'd be able to actually finish.  As soon as I started walking my legs were pretty confused.  They wanted to keep running!  I walked for about 10 seconds, then listened to my legs and started jogging again.  At this point I really started thinking of trying to run the whole way.  A motivating factor was also seeing other 10K runners and even 5K runners on their way back into downtown.  I checked my phone and I was already at mile 2!  And my pace had actually increased to 11:15, even though I'd done a little walking (probably because of the couple I was keeping pace with)!  I couldn't believe that, either!!!  I told myself to slow down a little since I still had over a mile to go to get to the finish line.

By the time I made it to the turnaround, I was still feeling good, but I could tell I was starting to run out of steam.  I only had a mile or so to go at this point (according to my app; in reality I had a slightly longer distance to cover) so I decided to push through and run the rest of the way; I'd come this far, I might as well finish with a bang.  I was really starting to feel it with about half a mile to go.  Despite the cool temperatures, I was sweating like crazy and I was completely short of breath and my legs were being replaced with bricks.  I could tell I was slowing down because the couple in front of me were quickly pulling away from me.  I decided I needed to go ahead a walk a little before coming back into downtown and the finish.  I definitely didn't want to walk through the finish line and I knew I needed to save some energy to run across the line.  I walked for about 30-45 seconds, to catch my breath, and then decided to push through and run the entire rest of the way.  After all, I'd come this far.

Dennis sent me another text as I was coming back into downtown; he and Jack were waiting at the last turn before the finish line.  I was too tired to try and text him back to let him know I was almost there.  All I could think was, "Just keep running, just keep running, just keep running."  I knew I was so close to finishing and pretty much running the whole way.  I wasn't about to do any walking at this point.  Plus by this time, I was so ready to be finished I didn't want to prolong things by slowing down and walking.  Finally, in the distance, I spotted them waiting for me at the corner.  I wanted to get a picture of them, but I was so tired, I didn't want anything to distract me from the finish line.  Before the race started, I pictured myself running past Dennis and Jack and stopping to give them kisses.  Instead, I waved and ran right past them.  If I stopped for kisses, I might not have started running again.

Den's view from the final turn
(I'm not in this pic)

I was so excited to come around that last corner and see the finish line!  I didn't have the energy left to sprint to the finish, but I didn't walk across the line, either.  I know it was only 3.1 miles (3.25 according to my map), but I almost started crying at the finish; I can definitely see why first time half and full marathoners all cry at the end.  The rush of endorphins and the sense of accomplishment is pretty overwhelming (plus the relief that it's finally over).  I didn't know that Dennis and Jack had taken off down the sidewalk after me so they could see me cross the finish line.  He got a great pic of me at the finish line, too.  I wish the 5K finish line was as grand as the 10K, but after the less than ceremonious start line, I wasn't all that surprised by the finish.

I waited at the finish line for them to come find me because there were a ton of people there and I didn't want to get lost in the crowd.  I think I was hoping Dennis would just carry me around for the rest of the morning.  Jack offered me some of his PB&J sandwich as soon as he saw me; he must've been able to tell I hadn't eaten!  I immediately got in the post-race food line for some bananas, oranges, and breakfast burritos (I skipped the free beer line - yuck!), and then I picked up my finishers shirt.  About this time, Jenny and Kristine finished the 10K.  I waited around for a free massage while they picked up their t-shirts.  I think I was pretty loopy on sleep deprivation and adrenaline at this point because the rest of the morning was a blur.  There was a band, and I ran into a few other people I knew, and Jack charmed the pants off of just about everyone.  Oh, and I waited around way too long for a free 5 minute massage, but I'm stubborn, and I wasn't in my right mind.

All in all, I had a great time at this race.  I can't believe that I pretty much ran the entire way.  I can't cross off "be able to run (not walk) a 5K" off my 101 list quite yet because I did walk some of the way, but I came a lot closer to that goal than I expected (or ever have before).  I guess my formula for success is not enough sleep, no food, and not enough training!  Yeah, maybe not.  I can't wait for the next race!


  1. I loved reading about your race!! Go you!!!

  2. Thank you so much! I can't wait for the next one!


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