Self-Care Saturday: Hot Chocolate 5k / by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

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Today marked my first road race since the Philadelphia Marathon in November. I returned to Philly for the Hot Chocolate 5k. I was originally signed up for the 15k, but my post-Marathon blues wouldn’t allow me to be great. I found it hard to train—physically and mentally—and if there is anything I learned during marathon training it is to listen to my body and trust the process. InJanuary I downgraded my registration (shout out the the folks at Hot Chocolate for the refund).

I convinced/cajoled/cheered my friend, coworker and office mate Alex into running with me. She had run a few 5k’s in the past and was down to join me. She, too was signed up for the 15k, but life has a way of getting in the way. She was ready to follow through when I asked her to consider running the 5k with me last week. Without hesitation she said “Yes!”

She arrived to pick me up at 4:45am. I’m used to staying overnight before out of town races. This was new for me. Even so, we were both chipper, which turned into giddy after our Dunkin Donuts run for coffee. We were on our way...

Our way was waylaid a bit. We arrived in Philadelphia with much time to spare, but between road closures AND the gps taking us to the WRONG PLACE, our good time turned into cutting it close. After we found our way to Eakins Oval, the next goal was to find parking, which is quite tight on those narrow Philadelphia streets. We finally found a parking lot at 6:55am less than a quarter of a mile from the start. Alex was freaking out. I was more calm. It turns out Alex thought the race started at 7:00am. We made it to the starting area and I made a beeline to the porta potties because that’s what I do. On the way back who do I see but my Fairy Runstigator Shelly, the woman who convinced me that I actually could run a marathon (She was right, by the way). What a pleasant surprise! I told Shelly I was there to find my mojo (I found it, by the way).

There we were. Ready. We found our way to the last corral, took our requisite photos and slowly made our way to the start line, which we cross at approximately 7:30am. We started with a 2 minute brisk walk, followed by intervals of 1/1.  This walk run interval has been working for me since my 16 miler during marathon training. We soaked up the energy. Talked. Weaved our way around the walkers. Laughed. With about 1/4 mile left, I threatened Alex to finish her race her way. I could see she had more in her than I did, and I wasn’t about to hold her back. She got a personal best (woo hoo) and somewhere during those 3.1 miles I rediscovered the joy of running. It’s on now! 

And it was on when we crossed the finish line!  I was disappointed that the 5k didn’t offer a finisher’s medal (I’m not a bling girl, but I’ve never coveted a medal so much in my life) but that mug full of Hot Chocolate and treats for dipping into the chocolate fondue took my mind off the medal, even if momentarily. 

After our requisite post-race selfies, we were ready to eat. We made plans to go to Green Eggs Cafe. Instead of moving the car, we decided to walk the 1.75 miles there. With a mile left and the crisp air meeting my sweaty and hungry self,  I was wondering whose idea this was (We agreed, by the way). We made it, and let me say that it was worth the almost 30 minute walk and 20 minute wait. I had the “Everything but the Kitchen Sink” and it was scrumptious. I’ve already planned to order the Red Velvet pancakes next time I go, and there WILL be a next time. Perhaps after my marathon in November. The food gave Alex and I what we needed to walk 1.75 miles back to the car, at a location we didn’t pin, and vaguely remembered. We shared stories and laughs along the way, more laughs than stories, especially about the fact that we couldn’t remember where we parked (ahem, near the penitentiary). 

A few things of note from today: 

-I seriously enjoy running and today reminded me of that. I found my joy and mojo in Philly, the same place I lost it after pounding out 26.2 miles there. 

-Running races is more than about the physical movement, it’s about energy and camaraderie and realized potential. Alex’s excitement about her PB energized me! 

-Philadelphia should also be called the City of WINDerly Love” because that wind is no joke. While it was calm during the 5k, it whipped before and after which led me to the conclusion that I will get in at least two long runs in Philadelphia in preparation for the 2018 Marathon.  

-I truly miss the gifts and graces that I experience on Instagram. Today marks my return. I don’t plan to go back to Facebook which drains me more than it nourishes me.  

-Running helps me be a more present wife and mother. After I got home, I cleaned up for a play date that the girls were having and, after discovering that our Baby Girl had a high fever, went into healing mode and cooked dinner. Thank God her temperature has dropped and hubby has taken back over so I can rest.