Race 2: How I lucked my way into a medal

Well, 5K #2 is in the books. I’m going to try to write the 5K summary the day of the race, so that’s always going to mean that I’m not at my best mentally, but I’ll still do what I can.

From the standpoint of accomplishing the goal of the year, which is a 5K every month, it was a success. I trudged 3.1 miles, and I’ve got February in the books.

postrace feb
Me and my coworker Charles. He only beat me by about 8 minutes. No big deal.

Now from the standpoint of comparison to previous 5Ks, this was actually my worst run. I finished 32:01, so this is the first time I didn’t break 32 minutes. That said, last month’s aberration of breaking the 31-minute mark made this run look worse than it really was. Last month was a flat run, so that was probably a large part of the difference. That said, in a couple of weeks, we’ll have the third 5K, so we’ll have another marker.

So first and foremost, let’s talk about the conditions. This course had hills. Nothing steep and I hate running, but I loathe hills. The hills ate my lunch. It was about 33 degrees at the start, which isn’t exactly a pleasant, but wasn’t terrible. What made it worse was the complete lack of sun during the run, so like last time, it took me the first half of the race to really warm up. There were still patches of snow, though no ice or snow as on the actual course. I just never thought I’d be running when I could still see snow. And did I mention the hills?

While the conditions weren’t ideal, the organizers did a great job. It’s the Chick-fil-A Race Series, so it’s not like they’re a bunch of newbs. The course was marked clearly, and no one got off track as far as I could tell. Like last month, you could tell they hadn’t planned on freezing temps. They were prepped for a larger crowd to show up than were willing to wake up for an 8 a.m. start at freezing temps. That said, that meant they extra stuff, which we’ll get to in a minute. But yeah, a well-run event overall.

I will say there were a couple of things I didn’t like about the organization. From a very practical standpoint, they organized a group stretch before the 10K and the 5K. While weird, the real problem was that they were doing a lot of static stretching, which isn’t a good idea before a workout. They also had a drone taking video or pictures. That was über creepy. But not as creepy as the cows. They had 4 or 5 cow mascots there, which is really unnerving. Even better was high-fiving the creepy cows at the end of the race. I was so exhausted, I just went with it. But still, that was creep.

As for the actual run, there’s not a lot I can say. My initial run before I had to start integrating walking was close to the last time, maybe a 30 to 60 seconds less this time because of the hills. I also wasn’t able to run as long on the subsequent run (seriously, hills).

While there wasn’t a lot of traffic, I did have to watch for cars much more than I’d like. We were crossing lanes a lot, and the streets weren’t blocked off for the most part. There weren’t any issues, but fatigue doesn’t leave me in a pleasant state when it comes to dealing with the potential of meeting a motor vehicle when I’m in running shoes.

It’s weird. I’d say I could have pushed a little harder, but I was so wiped at the end that I don’t know that I really could have done better, but that’s not the point (I’ll repeat this over and over as that 32-minute 5K eats at me).

I was pushing hard enough that I wasn’t really hearing my music. I only had one earbud in because, you know, cars, but I didn’t have this trouble last time, and there was more ambient noise. Hopefully I’m not this out of it next time.

Now, this is where things start to get more interesting. In other words, the race and the conditions weren’t the real story. It’s the rest of the story that you really want to stick around for.

I’ll start with the most surprising part: I medaled in my age group. Yep, 32 minutes was good enough to get third in my age group. This happened last time. I got 6th in my age group despite the fact that I wouldn’t have done that well in any other age group until the 50 or so bracket. Men under the age of the 30 just don’t do 5Ks. And despite the fact that I didn’t do objectively well, I’m still enamored by that medal.

It reminds me of when I placed in hurdles in high school. I did track for two years, and they had me do hurdles. I was terrible at hurdles. I might have been marginal in other events, but I was just terrible at hurdles. Like last or next to last in every heat I ever ran. Always. Well, one meet I ran my heat badly like always, and I was ready to call it a day and do long jump (where I got second that day). Then I learned I was in the finals in the hurdles. Evidently, enough people DQ’d that I ended up in the 8th spot of the finals. And I finished last. Not unexpected. But I ended up 6th because two people DQ’d again. So I walked off with 6th because other people couldn’t get from point A to point B without an infraction.

And that’s what this medal was like. I didn’t really do well. I showed up. That said, showing up’s half the battle. If more people showed up, then maybe obesity wouldn’t be such an epidemic. So yeah, I didn’t really earn my medal by running well. I earned it by running in the first place, and I’m totally keeping that shit. I might even wear it to work just to be obnoxious.

medal

Also, I managed to duck out of the official photo they were taking of the medalists. They were trying to be quick, and go confused and merged age brackets, so the two who finished ahead of me in my group took theirs with someone from the adjacent bracket. When they took the picture, I just turned around and walked away without anyone saying anything. Introvert achievement unlocked. I’m like an introvert black belt.

The post-race was about as enjoyable as it could be considering it was cold and I was doused in sweat. There were a few coworkers there, so that was cool. Even my boss made it down (it’s his pic I stole that documents I was in fact at the race).

There wasn’t any hot chocolate like last time, which was a bummer, but they had lots of chicken biscuits.

The amount of food I’ve eaten today was quite impressive. I started with two chicken biscuits (little frozen ones). After the race, I got a banana and a bottle of water. I was so out of it, I hit my head on the sign, and the girl handing out bottles took pity on me. Then I found the chicken biscuits and had one of those. And then I grabbed another bottle of water because the girl handing out the bottles still had some pity for me. Then the organizers said they had plenty of chicken biscuits, so I grabbed one more. And then I got another bottle of water. The girl handing the bottles out no longer had pity for me; she just didn’t want to argue the point. I considered one more chicken biscuit, but 4 in about a 3-hour span seemed like enough.

I had to leave room for the post-race binging for Fatty. I went to Walmart and picked up a pizza, Funyuns, a coke, and some broccoli beef. Surprisingly, only the pizza and coke didn’t survive the day. The Funyuns and the broccoli beef will live to see another day.

In case you're wondering what this says, it says I'm hungry and I like to make bad decisions
In case you’re wondering what this says, it says I’m hungry and I like to make bad decisions

But that gets us to now. I’m exhausted. My legs are shot. But I ran the damned race, I got a medal, and I ate my weight in chicken biscuits. It’s been a good day.

-Q

#ihaterunning

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