The Lunar Rendezvous 5K has been a fixture in the local running community for more than 30 years, and I’ve run it several times myself. It was the perfect race to target at the end of my Couch to 5K effort.
Mid-July is obviously not the ideal time of year to race in south Texas, but if people avoided running in the heat, no one would be able to run from April to October. We actually got really lucky with the weather on Saturday — totally overcast and ~80 degrees when the race started at 7:30. For a summer race in Houston, the weather doesn’t really get any better than that!
The race starts at Space Center Houston and circles the heart of JSC, so I’m obviously familiar with the course. I’ve done all my training while listening to music or podcasts, but I left the headphones at home on Saturday and was a little worried that without something to listen to as distraction, my efforts would feel more difficult. Fortunately, this didn’t really turn out to be a problem.
I lined up towards the back of the pack and after weaving around a couple walkers in the first few hundred yards, I had plenty of space for the rest of the race. For the first half mile or so, I was constantly reminding myself to take it nice and easy — like most people, I have a habit of going out too fast in races, and I knew that if I did that on Saturday, I would pay for it towards the end.
I hit the mile 1 marker in 11:21. My pace in training runs was usually somewhere in the 11:30-12:30/mile range — slower at the beginning and faster at the end. I was worried that 11:21 was slightly too fast, but I felt good so I just reminded myself to stay relaxed and kept going.
I hit mile 2 in 11:17 and was happy to know that I was staying consistent — not too fast, but not too slow either. I was pushing myself slightly harder than I did on my training runs, and the cooler weather helped too.
There were a couple times in mile 3 that I felt like walking, but I feel like the urge was more out of habit than because I really needed a break. I passed the mile marker in 11:10 and could see the finish line ahead. The clock read 34:40 but I knew my chip time would be ~45 seconds behind that, so there was a chance I could finish under 35:00. I picked up the pace for that last tenth of a mile, and ended up with a chip time of 34:50!
I’m thrilled with this on so many levels. First, I successfully completed the whole C25K program. Second, I did the full 5K without walking at all. Third, I did it ~2 minutes than I expected. (I was more than 5 minutes slower than my PR, but since I expected to finish in more like 37:00, it felt like a big win!)
Yay for running!