This morning I ran the Orange County Fair 5K and it was a lot of fun. This is in contrast to my experience at the same race last year. In early August 2014 I was nearing the end of my training program for my first half marathon so I had already completed several long runs (mostly successful – the less than stellar ones were still in my future). So when the OC Fair 5K rolled around I figured I would breeze through 3.1 miles with absolutely no trouble at all. It wasn’t even going to be a challenge! I couldn’t have been more wrong. (This should explain why I didn’t really write anything about it on my webpage at the time. Dwelling on failed runs is not helpful!) The summer had been relatively hot up to that point so I was thrilled on race day to see that the sky was overcast. This didn’t mean it was as cool as I would have liked, but the temperature was fairly reasonable and at least the sun wouldn’t be beating down on me the whole time. I was really confident when I started the race. 5K was nothing! But about halfway through I felt awful. When I walked through the water stop to get a drink I was sweating like a pig and I had a hard time catching my breath thanks to the high humidity (yes, it does happen in LA sometimes). I was not expecting to do so poorly running such a short distance. And I couldn’t quite get back into a good rhythm after the water stop. During the second half of the race I walked more than I ran. It was so discouraging. It was the first time I regretted running a race. Luckily I was able to put the bad experience behind me and happily participate in many other races.
I went into the OC Fair 5K this year with much more realistic expectations. 1) I made my #1 priority for the race to enjoy myself. Running through the Orange County Fairgrounds is pretty cool and I wanted to appreciate it this time around. Also, I got to hang out with a co-worker of mine and her awesome kids before the race so that by itself made the whole thing worthwhile. 2) I knew the weather was going to stink so I lowered my time/pace goals accordingly. I still had to take more walk breaks than I wanted to in the second half of the race (humidity is killer!), but that didn’t dishearten me as much as it did last year. Funny enough, today’s weather was almost exactly the same as last year’s. 3) I did not allow any poor performance to ruin my opinion of myself as a runner. While I wasn’t exactly proud of my performance today, I knew it wasn’t representative of my overall progress in my running career. The 2015 OC Fair 5K was just another step of my journey. And it’s a journey that doesn’t have a definite end! That’s what makes me smile every time I cross a finish line. Well, that and the cameras. Speaking of which, hopefully I’ll have some good photos to share soon!