Well, 5K No. 3 is in the books. 31:09 and second in my age and gender group. If I was 40 years older, I wouldn’t have gotten second in my age group. If it wasn’t for dumb luck, I’d have no luck at all, but I’ll take it. I like winning stuff.
I’m actually amassing a neat little collection of memorabilia from these races. Three in, I’ve got three shirts, two bibs (I’ll get to that), a drawstring bag, two medals, and a ribbon. I generally pride myself on not collecting excess belongings, but I keep this type of stuff out of the way for the most part (and toss a lot of the other swag they give).
So yeah, let’s talk about the swag. This was an odd race in what they gave. Some of it was nicer than what you usually see, but it had something missing I hadn’t seen before, but let’s start with what they had. The typical thing that races have is the shirt. They had a very nice shirt. I have another like it from a different 5K, and it’s my favorite workout shirt. The original also fits an adult.
I guess I marked the wrong box, but I ended up with a youth large instead of an adult large. Fortunately, I was hoping to turn the race shirts into a quilt (albeit an odd quilt with a mix of cotton, poly, and cotton/poly blends), so at least I don’t feel shorted. That said, it was probably my fault, so there’s always that.
Beyond this, we start to move into odder stuff. None of it was bad, but it gets weird eventually. So, staying on theme, they gave out some nutritional supplements (electrolyte powders and gels). Ok, I get that. They also gave out some sunglasses with UV protection. Ok, that’s nice; my eyes need protection. Everything came in a drawstring bag, so that’s another for me to add to my collection (I originally one. It started to tear, so I sewed it up and bought another when I got a chance. And then I got one for Christmas. I then I got the fourth today.). I also got a karabiner. Not sure how I’ll use it, but I’m sure I can find a way. The next thing was a workout/bodybuilding magazine. Honestly, it was a bit creepy, and whoever decided to donate it didn’t think through that runners and body builders operate on very different sides of the fitness coin. And lastly was dental stuff like you’d get after an appointment (toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss). So yeah, kind of weird. Very nice of them to have gobs of sponsors but still weird stuff.
Now think for a second. What’s missing? The bib. There was no race bib. About 8 minutes before the race I realized I wasn’t wearing a bib (don’t ask why that was a sudden revelation) and neither was anyone else. At that point, I’m thinking there are no bibs, but I checked the swag bag just to see if I’d missed something in a mini-panic. Nope, no bib.
There was also one other thing missing from the prerace supplies: an accessible bathroom. It was a smaller race, so they were able to hold everything in the parking lot of a bank, but there weren’t the usual portapotties. The bank technically had a restroom, but when I went to use it just in case, I couldn’t actually access it. They had locked the door that accessed the bathroom. Luckily, I was being precautious and didn’t actually NEED the bathroom. There was a girl who really did need to go before the race and she didn’t get to. She just had to woman up (seems less sexist than saying she manned up) and deal with it. I think she survived, but that was a serious lapse on the race organizer’s part.
Otherwise, the setup was pretty good. It’s the smallest race I’ve done this year and the second-smallest I’ve done overall. That meant parking was easy and there wasn’t a mad scrum at the start to get around the slow people who inexplicably decide they need to start at front (and there was at least one person who was walking within half a mile who had decided they needed to be up front). They also had a lot of people helping out and had a lot of cops blocking traffic. They had about as many cops as the one in Jackson that had many more people and many more cars in the vicinity. It’s like getting the presidential suite all to yourself.
And the weather was about as good as I could ask for. It was high 50s (possibly low 60s by the end), overcast, no wind, and a little misty. Basically, it was as comfortable as the weather gets for me when I’m running. All wheezing was running-induced.
The run was also about as good as I could expect. I had my longest start without walking of my 3 5Ks so far (10 minutes) this year. I kept a relatively comfortable pace without going into gazelle mode, so that worked.
I think the most enjoyable part was going down this really steep hill. The guy in front of me was maintaining his pace whereas I was letting my 190 pounds carry me down the hill with gusto (I’ve read you’re supposed to maintain the same effort going up and down hills, so that’s what I did), so I got to run obnoxiously fast past someone.
Now, as we do the math, I’m going down a steep hill, which means I have to go back up. And it was a big effing hill. I was optimistic that I had slowly climbed the whole run without realizing it. Nope. It was about a 50-foot decline in .15 miles. This was followed by a 50-foot climb over the next .15 miles. I spent way too many years in West Texas to be able to deal with slow climbs much less this crap.
But still, I finished.
The postrace was weird because of the lack of bibs. They gave you a card to fill out your info and turn in (this was surprisingly complicated because my age and the number on the card were one off, so I had to explain to the guy logging times which number he was supposed to be paying attention to). I also got a medal for finishing, so that was a first.
I knew before the race that it didn’t look like there were any men my age or younger running. I’m at the top end of my age bracket, which is theoretically bad but works out when men in their 20s don’t run 5Ks. I stuck around to see if I happened to win something and got third. The other two who finished in the top 3 were surprised too. They knew we weren’t supposed to win anything. Every age bracket after me would have ended in me getting trounced, but I’ll take this last year of my age bracket and keep my little collection of winnings I didn’t earn.
And to end things, if you look in the background of the picture of me, evidently, that’s the local weatherman. I wondered if he worked for the station because he was wearing a shirt with their call letters, and he was talking to camera person who was shooting the start (coincidentally, the same person who shot footage at the last 5K), but I had it verified when one of my friends ID’d him. They also took pictures because the newspaper had shown up. Basically, there’s a chance I’ll be on the news and in the newspaper. I kind of always thought it would take a felony for that to happen. A guy can always dream, though.
And now I have about a month ‘til the next one, which I still need to sign up for.