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My Accidental PR (No, Really!)

OK, don't punch me. But I accidentally PR'd my 5K on Thanksgiving.

I'm not trying to downplay anything or humble-brag. I seriously never intended to go that fast, and I certainly wasn't trying ... at least not I until I was nearly done with the race. Here's how illness, a malfunctioning GPS watch and some sibling rivalry combined to create my accidental PR.

It started a couple of weeks ago, when my daughter caught a cold, complete with a nasty cough that kept her (and us) up all night for nearly two weeks. Kenlee was kind enough to share her germs with me, and I had my own coughing/hacking spells and wasn't able to breathe or talk normally for a solid week.

I didn't run a single mile during that time, and I barely left my couch. My first "test run" was a 4-miler with Kim, and it was all I could do to keep my head up as I trudged along behind her. That was the Friday before Thanksgiving. On Sunday, I went alone for 5 miles, telling myself I would just take it easy and get back out there. Well, I WAS taking it easy and I STILL wanted to stop and walk. I was wheezing by mile 2 ...

Fast forward to the day before Thanksgiving. I was feeling better that morning when I met Kim, who said I could pick our pace/mileage since I was running a Turkey Trot the next day. I laughed at the thought of actually racing while I was still recuperating, and we decided on 6 miles at what turned out to be a good pace. We needed a few breaks - for my legs and her hips. I was happy to run again, but I was noticeably sore the rest of the day.

That night, as Kyle and I were going over the logistics of the next morning (alarms, when to drop Kenlee with grandma, etc.), I was pondering my strategy. I didn't want to race, but I also didn't want to go out for a leisurely jog. I decided my best effort would be to come relatively close my PR from May: 25:31. I felt like 8:30 miles would be obtainable, yet challenging. I fully expected my pace to actually come closer to 8:45, if I was lucky.

On race morning, I wasn't nervous at all - I didn't have a big goal, so I just wanted to have fun. Kyle and I met up with my brother, who WAS a bit nervous since he hadn't run at all since his MARATHON in October. (I'm so proud of him, by the way. I'd say he deserved a break!) Scott asked if I would warm up with him, and I agreed. We took a short jog through the park and came back to the start, where I tapped the button my GPS watch to search for satellite signal.

Well, my watch searched. And searched. And searched. ... And when start whistle blew nearly 5 minutes later, it was STILL searching. I started the timer and took off, annoyed. Without GPS, I couldn't monitor my pace between miles. I wouldn't know if I was running 8:30 miles or 10:30 miles or 6:30 miles (in my Kenyan dreams, OK?) ... UGH!

Well, I decided to do the next best thing when it comes to race strategies: Run like hell and hope for the best! As I passed the first mile marker, a volunteer was shouting times: 7:21, 7:22, 7:23! Shit. That was way too fast. How am I still breathing? I'm totally going to puke if I don't slow down. 

Just after that, Scott passed me. He's always been faster, which is only natural since he's got legs like a giraffe and was on the track and cross country teams in high school. But I was disappointed knowing he'd taken more than a month off running and could STILL beat me. I decided I would at least keep him in my sights. Don't let him get too far ahead! Some people might call this being a sore loser - I prefer to call it healthy sibling rivalry, OK?

About a mile later, I realized I had not only kept him in my sights, but I was also catching up! Then, miraculously, I actually PASSED him! Neener, neener, neener! I wanted to make a snide remark and stick out my tongue like a 10-year-old, but I decided I'd better focus.  After all, I didn't want him to come back and pass me again. Sibling rivalry for the win!

For the final stretch of the race, I was doing runner's math in my head. My GPS had FINALLY found a signal around mile 2 (better late than never, I suppose!), so I could see I was holding my 8:30 goal pace. With that pace, and what the timer said, I suddenly realized I might finish just a few seconds under my PR. Maybe, right? No, I'm going too slow. Wait, I have more than enough time banked from the first mile! Do I? I suck at at math. Shit, just run, Tami!

So I did just that. I ran. As fast as my lungs and legs would allow. I thought I was going to pass out a few steps after the finish line - from exhaustion and surprise! My watch read 24:57! I took more than 30 seconds off my PR!

When I looked at the official results, I got another surprise: My time was actually 24:54! It's a good thing I floored it at the end - Scott wasn't far behind, finishing in 25:08. The cherry on top of the perfect race sundae was seeing Kyle come in at 28:28, well under his goal of 30:00!

So I'd like to thank Kenlee for forcing me to take that unexpected taper with her cold germs, my cheap GPS watch for letting me start out way too fast, and my brother for giving me the motviation to finish strong. Accident or not, a PR is a PR ... and I'm thrilled to have another great race in the books.


  1. Congrats on the surprise PR! I did that once with a half marathon. I was training for a marathon and I guess my legs were just strong. Hurt like hell though. Haha. I think sibling rivalry is awesome. I compete with my husband. He could be a stronger runner if he wanted to. But he's a weekend warrior and so he just doesn't get the base I have. But I hold strong that he's a MAN and he's also 5 years my JUNIOR. Even as a weekend warrior he should be able to beat me. So I still win right?? haha.

    1. Thanks Kerry! Glad I'm not alone with the surprise PR. ... Just looked through your blog and love it! Are you on Twitter or Facebook so I can follow? :)


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