The 5K that almost wasn’t

Greetings all. It was a warm afternoon today; so much so that I was happy in short sleeves as I took care of a new calf. We had 4 babies today so their was never a dull moment!

Yesterday was also beautiful day, and I was extra happy because I got to run my first 5K since January.

I’ve got a shiny new PR to be proud of, but it was hard-won. Want to hear the tale?

Good. ๐Ÿ™‚

I left home about 6:30 a.m. on Saturday for an 8 a.m. start to the 5K I was planning to run. I forgot about a detour on the road I’d need to take, so I was running about 10 minutes later then I wanted.

I still made it to the race a little before 7:30 and was sure I’d have enough time to sign up and warm up before the start.

Parking was close and plentiful, but the line to registration looked huge. I meandered toward the front looking for signs for “race day registration” because of course I hardly register in advance.

As I got toward the front, I heard a girl asking about registration, and listened up for instructions. The staff explained that it had closed at 7:15, and they couldn’t take more runners because they’d already entered everything into the computer.

In my mind I didn’t understand how hard it could be to enter a few more names into the computer, but the guy that was called over was adamant that they couldn’t take any additional runners.

Boo hiss. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I walked back to my car clutching my declined $25, and sulked while I debated just running without a number.

I called my husband to lament the fiasco, and then I decided I wasn’t helpless. I had a smart phone, and it was only a few minutes after 7:30. Surely there must be another 5K within driving distance that didn’t start until later that morning.

After some lengthy searching; success! A small private college about 10 miles away was having a homecoming 5K. It didn’t start until 9:30, and they had same-day registration available.

I didn’t want to get there too early and stand around forever, so I browsed Target until about 8:15 and bought some tasty looking Teddy Grahams and chocolates.

As I drove to my new race (and munched on Teddy Grahams) I congratulated myself on not giving up and being resourceful enough to find a alternate event.

Then, I saw them. I saw runners with little white tags running down the side of the road. Good sign, I thought. Runners are warming up so I must be getting close.

This college is in a pretty small town, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to find the student center. I took a few more turns and soon realized I wasn’t seeing runners warming up. I was most definitely seeing a race in progress.

Drat! How did this happen? I missed TWO races in one day??

I was certain the website had said 9:30 start, but I had been on a race listing website instead of the actual event’s site.

I gave up trying to find the student center and just parked in the first college non-permit lot I found. I’d probably missed the race, but I had to check it out for sure.

I stripped down to my shorts, but I left my light long sleeves on because the
morning still felt chilly. I started jogging toward what I hoped was the main part of campus, and I soon realized I parked on the very edge of everything.

After a good 1/2 mile+ warm-up, I found the check in and it looked pretty empty. “Have I already missed the start?” I asked quickly.

“No, you’re just in time” the gal says. “It starts at 9:00, so you’ve got about 3 minutes until the gun.”

I hurried to scrawl my info on the reg form, and I asked if they knew if there was another race happening. She didn’t, but I didn’t matter who those other runners were. I made it!!

I get to the start and saw a pack of about 30 athletic looking people. The race was put on by the cross country team, but I gather most of these runners were student athletes from various other sports with a few local runners (sporting apparel from area marathons) mixed in.

I worried for a second about getting dead last in this field, but I didn’t have much time because the race got underway.

I kept a hard pace the first mile, and was pleased to be running mid-pack. I looked at the pace showing on my RunKeeper and tried to stay around 7:50. My legs wanted to go faster, but that could be disaster.

The campus was beautiful and starting to get autumn foliage, and I tried to soak in the beauty as my body started to tire.

I fight to keep pace during mile 2, and I could hear a girl I passed after about 800 meters just breathing down my neck.

No actual mile markers on this course, but there were cross country runners along the course to direct us and cheer. Their enthusiasm definitely gave me a needed boost.

Then, with less than 1/2 mile to go, the girl behind me surged past, and I tried to respond just to keep her in reach. I was now so tired, and it’s all I could do to stay close.

Times were being called off as I got close to the line, and I hoped and prayed I was under 25 minutes.

I made a good dash to the line, but I could tell I’d been pushing my body hard, and I didn’t have much left. Then, I heard 23- something.

23?? I had totally quit looking at my own timer the last stretch while I just focused on running, but as I stopped it I saw that yes, I’d run 23:48 according to my gadget. ๐Ÿ˜€

The course does show up a tad short, but this RunKeeper program is barely reliable on any course I’ve run. I ask a finish line worker about the course, and she says the cross country team all ran it after it was measured and thought it seemed right on.

I’m not dreaming and the course isn’t way off. I just ran 7:41 pace and broke 24 minutes!

There were no timing chips, and the finish line was just 2 simple cones.


Here in this small town, in this tiny race, I am elated. I knew I could do this, but now I’ve actually done it. And that’s so much better.

After the last runner finishes in 29 minutes, we headed inside for snacks and results. They only recognized the top male and female, but I just wanted a glimpse at my official time. After a few glitches, they posted a few one-page printouts of results. I’m 13th of 35 runners. I ran 23:48.

I happily scarf down a blueberry bagel, chat with a few people, and then start the task of trying to find my car parked on the edge of nowhere.

At least my long walk was done in nice surroundings!


I’m honestly feeling sore now, which doesn’t usually happen to me after a 5K. I’m pleased I pushed myself truly hard, and of course I’m scheming up future race options to see if I can go even faster.

Have you ever missed a race you showed up to run?

About Lisa

Hi, I'm Lisa. Dairy farmer's wife and Minnesotan to the core, I write about rural farm life, running down country roads, and the food, faith, and family that bind everything together. Follow along on my journey.
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10 Responses to The 5K that almost wasn’t

  1. Whoa, that was some quick thinking! Glad you were able to make the race happen after all. I’m impressed by that big PR! I hope you do some more races this fall. It’s really fun to watch your progress ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. jena says:

    You had an awesome race! I’m glad you were able to find a 5k that was so close by! I probably would have just given up and pouted the whole day about it!

  3. Courtenay says:

    Great job, Lisa!!! Congrats on the PR! Loved your story!

  4. shelby says:

    Congrats, speedy!

    Also this:

    “My legs wanted to go faster, but that could be disaster.”

    is very poetic. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. bearrunner says:



  6. Jess says:

    Every time you tell the story of a race I’m on the edge of my seat. And this one has all the twists and turns, highs and lows of a real adventure story. Congrats on your time! That is so awesome! And even better that you didn’t realize it until after it was over.

  7. Bree says:

    Congrats on the race! Glad you were able to find one ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Heidi Nicole says:

    Very resourceful of you! And you did awesome with your time! Congrats!

  9. Brit says:

    Awesome new PR! Glad you persevered and found a race.

  10. Pingback: 2011: The Running Edition | Cow Spots and Tales

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