Clearly this race was a bundle of fun. But let’s start at the beginning!
5am: After waking up every hour between 11pm and 5am (I can’t help it, I get so excited!), it was finally late enough for me to get out of bed. Poured the coffee, ate the oatmeal, walked the dog, out the door by 5:45. Because of the time change, I got a lovely view of the sunset as I was zipping down the mountain. The rising sun coupled with “Friends” by the Beach Boys got me to Universal Studios safe and sound by 7:15.
I parked and headed over to the expo to pick up my packet. I was pretty excited to get bib #1999. I had Prince stuck in my head all morning.
Being as I had an hour until start time at 8:45, I actually had time to warm up properly. I stretched and jogged around for 15 minutes while I waited for my friend, Jackie. This was her first racing event and she planned to walk it with some friends. It’s always nice to have some pals around pre and post race! While I was jogging in circles I caught sight of Max Greenfield, who was going to be starting the race. He plays Schmidt on the show New Girl. Yay celebrities!
Waiting in line for the bathroom took FOREVER. You know how there are a million lines for the porto potties and each line unofficially gets 2 or 3 pots they can work with? Well my line had 2. And someone must have had some pre-race nerves or SOMETHING because for about 5 minutes we were definitely down a bathroom. And I get it, we all gotta unload, but…come on, girl – race starts in 15 minutes!
I quickly dropped off my bag at the bag drop and headed over to the start line. Before I knew it, Schmidt was blowing the horn and we were off! Now, remember when I said I didn’t like 5ks? They’re too fast – no time to relax. Well, I discovered another reason I hate them. I don’t know how to run them. After the 1st completely downhill mile, I looked at my watch. 6 minutes, 3 seconds. WHAT?!!! I started laughing out loud because I didn’t know I even had the capability to run a mile that fast. I made sure to slow down my next mile, but even that was at 7 minutes. Mile 3 was an absolute bitch. There were HILLS. Steep, steep hills. The kind of hills that you wish would just end. Now. But they don’t. And you see people up ahead of you turning and they are still running UP. It was tough.
Also! Can we talk about the temperature, please? So the race was supposed to start at 7:45. A week before the race I received an email stating that the race would start at 8:45 due to some Universal sound ordinance. Then! We had to turn the clocks back. So now we’re running at what is really 9:45 on a day that is supposed to reach into the 90s. Race start temp had to be in the low 70s. Ugh.
I will give credit, though, to the course distractions. The Universal backlot? Amazing! Wisteria Lane, WhoVille, War of the Worlds, the Psycho House – even as I was sprinting by, I managed a whole heck of a lot of smiles. How can you not when there’s a Mariachi band playing on Mexican street right after Zorro is sword fighting on Western ave? I’ve been through the lot on a tram tour before, but being able to run right through made for a pretty unique course. I managed to sneak backwards onto the course after my finish to snap some photos.
Anyway, back to the race. I knew I was out front, and as I passed the last woman I could see, I started to wonder…was I in THE front? (We’re talking in terms of females here, of course). I didn’t see any more ladies in front of me, but as the course was twisty and turny, I knew of course there could be a speed demon in front of me.
Sidenote: As the course got tougher and I got tireder, I made a couple of audible noises – you know, the kind when you are really struggling and sounds just escape from your mouth when all you really intended was an exhale. Lucky for me I had music on, so I couldn’t hear myself too much, but when a guy in front of me turned around as I approached him, I knew it was because I was making a racket. Oh well. Pretty sure I beat his butt.
Anyway. As I started up one of the last hills, I set pace with a boy who I later found out was 13. Awesome. Thanks to this kid, I didn’t stop and puke in the bushes like I thought I was going to have to do. I’ve never really considered stopping during a race to vom, but I seriously considered it this time around. Lucky for me, the last .1 was just ahead and boy was that the LONGEST .1 miles of my entire life. But I made it. I even heard my name on the loud speaker.
And when the overall winner came up and said “Hey! First woman – congrats!” I knew my spastic race strategy had all been worth it. I had won. WON! ME! I’ve placed 1st in my age group before but NEVER overall. And boy oh boy did I not expect it to happen in a 5k. I said a small prayer of thanks to my fast-twitch fibers for getting me through this race exactly 1 minute faster than my first attempt at a 5k. I grabbed some free snacks, congratulated the next few women to cross the finish line, and then called mom and dad. My dad used to be a marathoner back in his day and so it means a lot to me to be able to call him with exciting running news. Always the coach, though, he did be sure to remind me that I need to work on not blasting out of the starting gate (I know that, now).
Finishing a race in under 22 minutes means you have a lot of time to wait around and watch everyone else come in. I LOVE this part. It is so exciting to see all of the people who come out at the break of dawn to participate in these things. And for such a great cause, too. WeSPARK really put on a wonderful event and they raised a ton of money through fundraising, too!
I met up with Jackie and she hung around with me for the awards. I received a medal for my 1st place age group finish and a trophy for my overall female win. The female awards were handed out by Maggie Jones, the sweet little girl from We Bought a Zoo and the tv show Ben and Kate. Really, my prize was getting to pose with this NUGGET. Gah she is too CUTE.