I had two fitness goal set for myself at the beginning of this year. The first was to finish the River Bank Run 25K (up to that point I’d only ever run a 10K), I was able to do that last month. The second was to finish a 5K race in under 30 minutes. Thanks to a fellow champion I met my second goal on Saturday. I only started running two years ago. Before then the longest I’d ever run was a mile in 10th grade gym class. My first 5K I completed in just over 34 minutes. By the following year I’d lost 30 pounds of baby weight and dropped 4 minutes off my time. Still my best 5K time was 30:17, but with each 5K I had a better time than the prior one. This year I hoped to break that 30 minute mark. I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to happen in my first 5K of the season because I’d been sacrificing my 5K speed for my 25K distance for the past 6 month.
Saturday was my first 5K for the year and I was scheduled to run the Brian Diemer. I knew fellow champion Brian Jirous would be out there. We met at our first champion meeting and had kept in touch and caught up with each other a few times at various races. He was just running that day for fun because he was competing in the GR Tri the following day. He knew what my goal was so he decided to stick with me for the race.
It was the hottest temperature I’d ever faced for a race, but I started off with a great pace. In the first mile I was right on track with a 9:23 pace. But then the self doubt and the voices in my head started to creep in. I think Brian knew I was slowing up a little so he just kept chatting with me and talking about various races and life. We were going strong, but I missed a water station and was getting pretty dry, the heat was rough. By mile 2 I was afraid I wasn’t going to stay on pace. At one point I started walking and after getting about 20 yards ahead of me Brian looked over his shoulder, started jogging in place and telling me I could make it. I knew I could finish, but I was certain that my pace would fall back and the 30 minute mark would be lost. He told me just one more corner to round and the finish was right head. I knew the course and knew he was being pretty optimistic about the distance. After the corner I walked one more time, but he told me if I just pushed it we’d be there. I’d only had a little water and was dying of thirst so with his encouragement I figured the faster I went the sooner I could get water.
About 100 yards out, I looked at my watch and knew if I just gave it all I got then I could make it. Brian said, “You’ve got this, just push and you’re going to be there.” We picked up our pace and I pushed it as hard as I possibly could to get to that finish line and that golden bottle of water! As we crossed my stop watch said 29:41 and the announcer called out “Here comes Team Priority Health finishing strong.” I don’t think the man knew I wasn’t feeling all that strong.
I did it! My official time was 29:36 and I met my goal. The thing is I didn’t do it alone. Brian can definitely run faster than I can (A LOT faster!), but he stuck with me that whole race, pushed me when I felt weak, encouraged me and was there just to help me meet my goal. This from a guy I only know because we’re both Champions. A few emails and just chatting up at some races and he was my cheerleader for all 29 minutes and 36 seconds of that race. So a huge thanks to Brian Jirous for helping me do it, without him I know I would have lost sight of the goal and not met it.
The next day it was great to see him at the GR Tri working hard in the horribly brutal heat as he competed in the Olympic triathlon while I worked the transition area. I told him when he was done that while I wasn’t out there on the course with him like he was for me, I was with him in spirit the whole time. He did a great job!
My favorite part is I told him it was only June and I’d met all my goals so now what. His response “An under 25 minute 5K!” Wow! He dreams big for me!