Janet’s Gardena 5000 5K Race Report

Janet (Chi Beach Runner) with her AG medal and trophy

A little history
I’m actually a tennis player that happens to run for endurance. I’m not a fast runner, just your average middle of the pack plodder. Two years ago, I tore a muscle in my playing arm. I was sidelined, I couldn’t play, what was I going to do? I ran. So, I decided, why not take this running a little more seriously and started to enter in some long distance races. I didn’t become a ChiRunner till November of last year.

Okay, here’s the report
On Sunday, June 10th, while the 4 Beach Runners warriors did the Ultra marathon, I did a wimpy little 5K, the Gardena 5000. I’ve been running this race for years. I PR’d it once in my younger days. But, as time marched on, I was never able to match or break that time of 27:18. A torn synovial tissue in the ankle and knee surgery didn’t help matters either. I didn’t know what kind of running I was doing, I just ran. All I remembered was by the time I got to mile 2 I was tired. I had to walk, my knees hurt, and I struggled to get to the finish line. Even when I actually saw the finish line, I couldn’t muster any energy to get me there any faster. And I ached for days.

Now armed, or legged, with a couple of months of ChiRunning, I now know how to run efficiently. I went into this 5K race with no expectations, just wanted to finish in a decent time. I really didn’t train for this. I just did what was on our marathon training schedule, run on Tuesday, Thursday and the long run on Saturday.

And we’re off
With my meditation and body looseners done, I visualized what I wanted to do: finish under 30 minutes, do negative split around the mile and a half point.

So, with my plan and focused attention, I headed towards the start area and found my position in the middle somewhere. After the Boy Scout’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, we were off. With the crowd and congestion, and no where to go, I had to keep a slow pace.

By mile 1, I was able to get into my stride. I had to keep reminding myself to relax the shoulders (Gary’s tip) and to keep my posture up, no slouching (yes, Steve). Soooo much to think about, and that’s why I don’t wear my headphones anymore.

Heading into 1.5 mile mark, it was time to put my plan into action, do a negative split, our favorite words. I leaned a bit more, relaxed the hips and just felt my feet fly off the ground. What a sensation! I peeked at my Garmin and it showed that I was doing 7-8 minute miles. Wow, I only go that fast when I’m running downhill.

Home stretch
As I approach the last mile, I kept up with the pace and focused a lot on relaxing and letting gravity do its thing. I was actually passing other runners.

With only 10 feet to go, 2 runners, darn teenagers, don’t they respect their elders, passed me. Did I make it less than 30 minutes? Yes. But the biggest surprise is that I placed 2nd in my age division. I was so jazzed. My first trophy in running. I’m still smiling. Had I known 1st place was within ONE minute, I would have planted myself on the start line.

But, I’m totally happy with what I accomplished. Last year I placed 7th. So to come back this strong is really a great feeling plus I’m not sore like I was last year.

I did it even after running 8.5 miles the day before. It’s really a humbling experience.

All of this couldn’t have happened without the ChiRunning techniques and the coaching. As I mentioned before, I attended Steve and Gary’s retreat in Palos Verdes in November and again in April of this year. These retreats rock! If you are thinking about signing up for the retreats, do it. No, the coaches didn’t pay me to advertise for them. It really does help. It’s helped me in all of my half marathons; I’ve been shaving minutes off of each race I finish. Steve videotapes you and sits down with you and points out what improvement you need. I especially liked the wine, cheese and crackers afterwards.

Now, I’m an official Beach Runners, training for the Long Beach Marathon. This will be my first full marathon. I’ve met a lot of great people in this group, so supportive and upbeat. I am hoping to use all these experiences not only to finish the Long Beach marathon but to also finish the 2008 Goofy Race and Half challenge in Orlando. For those of you who are wondering what it is, it’s a half marathon on Saturday, and the full marathon on Sunday. I may be crazy enough to do the 5K on Friday also. I’ll really be goofy by then.

Janet, A humble Chi Beach Runners disciple


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