Prelude to Bingeing – 1/3 Into the Superawesome Year of the 5K

We’ll lead with the important part. Ran about 30:00. I’m not sure of the exact time, but the board was ticking right at 30 when I was at the line, so I don’t know if I ticked right over or right under or right at it. Either way, personal best for the year. I’ll take it.

Now, how did we get there? In a pair of Adidas. I’m just kidding, but seriously, those Adidas feel great on a long run. The Brooks are officially the backup shoe now. Shame. They’ve treated me so well, but they’re just too heavy over a long run. I don’t want to notice my shoes when I’m running.

But back to the main plot.

I think the starting point is the music. I opted to try using a Spotify playlist, so last night I pretty meticulously selected songs that were up-tempo that I also found interest. I also put it on shuffle so I couldn’t possibly know what was coming up next.

I think it worked out great, especially at the beginning. Childish Gambino and Tyler the Creator played back to back, and I had to resist the urge to start singing along. I probably was keyed into the music a bit too much. Despite not trying to push a quick pace, I was under 8:30 for my first mile, and I’m blaming those two. As I got tired, I noticed the music less, but it worked out pretty well, including my footfalls matching the beat perfectly for one song.

As always, I’ll talk about the organization. It’s interesting to have gone to multiple 5Ks now. Excluding the mud run in 2013, this was my seventh 5K. This one was borderline the smallest one I’ve done. I’d call the organization good not great. The people were nice. The course was well marked (the largest one I ever did was actually the most poorly marked, resulting in a 2.2-mile route; you won’t see so many scrawny people mad at once as you will when you cheat them out of close to a mile of running). They gave a drawstring bag as a part of registration and also had workout shirts as the official shirt (now the second one that’s done that this year).

One in the middle that was just odd was that it was a family fun night as a part of the overall event, so there were a bunch of families and a lot of kids everywhere. It’s a bit different to show up to a race where the majority of people there have next-to-no interest in the race. Not a real problem, just odd.

But there’s always the negative. Most of it was really beforehand. They didn’t have shirt size selection in the online registration and had to email people last minute to clear that up, but I got the right size. It also wasn’t terribly clear when I was supposed to show up (the email about the shirt actually confused the issue more). Again, not a biggie but still noticeable. There were no bibs at this race and they did the same thing as the last race (including, I think, the same box they were using to track participants by gender and age). They put the fun run before the 5K, which I’m never fond of, but they did have it run on schedule, so it wasn’t really off-putting (one 5K I looked at for January said the 5K would begin after the fun run ended; my punctual self couldn’t take that, which is a large reason I ended up in Jackson running across the spillway).

But the real sin was not having any bananas (or any free snacks) at the end. It was in the 70s at the start and the sun was shining. I was drained at the end. Something that was a good source of potassium would have been nice. All I got was a small bottle of water, and then I was fending for myself (see later for what that ended up looking like).

As I mentioned recently, prep is something I wanted to be more mindful of. I mostly had just been hating humanity before races and not properly warming up. Today, I really prepped. I had a lot of time because I had to be there before the fun run, so I was there about an hour before the 5K started, plenty of time to loosen up. I was methodical about not standing around too long. I was doing a lot of dynamic stretching to get loose. I was honestly a bit worried going in because I’ve had a lot of aches this week, and I could feel my knee, hip, back, and hamstring twinging throughout the day. Luckily they held up.

Now the weird part about trying to properly warm up is that it looks like a very serious activity. I wasn’t as rigorous as I could have been, but it still felt like I was warming up like a person getting ready to clip out a 7-minute per mile pace.

And now for the actual race. It was good, not great. I’m a long way away from having a great run. I don’t even know what it looks like, so it may never happen, even if I do magically start running 7-minute miles. I should probably start setting real goals beyond just finishing and hoping for better times.

The course was pretty good. There was only one part that I found annoying, which was in the last leg. It wasn’t a flat course, but there also weren’t any a-hole hills waiting at the end like the last race. There was one long, slow climb right after the one-mile mark. It wasn’t steep, just long. After that, there were one or two decent little hills. I was kind of hazy by this point, so I really can’t remember if it was just one or if there was another. I want to say there was one hill leading to a bigger hill (nature’s a jerk when it does that crap).

The last stretch was finally out of the sun but a lot of winding, which is the one thing I truly found annoying. It was basically zigzagging, not just turning every now and then. Almost like running cone drills at a very slow pace. At first, it was just going around the shrubs that were in the middle of the path. Obnoxious but spaced out. And then we got to true S’s, as in no running in a straight line.

In the S’s, I pulled in front of someone. After the S’s was the straightaway to the finish, so I picked up my pace to a stride. As I got closer, I realized they had the big clock going, and I was very close to being able to break 30, so I started sprinting. With my headphones in, I didn’t hear the footfalls of the person I passed who was sprinting to the finish, too. Basically, I probably looked like a jerk trying to beat someone who was probably 10 years older than me. Don’t get me wrong, I might have done it anyway had I known it, but I don’t like looking like an asshole on accident. I’d rather be intentional about it.

But I got in around 30, so that’s pretty cool, and it gives me a solid mark to try to beat in the next run.

There were a lot of little victories (30-minute finish, 12-minutes of running to start), but the real best of the year was only walking 4 times. I hadn’t realized I’d done that well until I looked at my fitbit/slackertracker for the workout. While the slackertracker only thought I went about 2.3 miles, it does show when I speed up and slow down, so I can at least know when I’m walking even if the distance is off. 4 times. I’m pretty sure I’ve walked at least 6 times in all the other runs. I’m probably going to pay for this tomorrow, but today’s win is today’s win.

The last part of the actual race worth mentioning is the Batman shirt. The first two runs featured fairly recognizable superhero shirts, but it was literally freezing, so I had to wear a jacket over the top. The last race was the first I wore just the superhero shirt, but it was green lantern, which isn’t widely recognized. Even then, I did get a comment from a cop on the course for that race.

But this was Batman. Everyone knows Batman. Your grandma knows Batman. And so Batman got attention today. I got one prerace comment on it. During first mile, I think some people sitting at a house may have been yelling at me, but I was in that first 12-minute run, and I wasn’t disturbing it to acknowledge people (and I had headphones on, so I could play dumb). At the end, there was the usual cheering section (again, more people at the event than were actually in the event). It was pretty cool to hear people cheering on Batman through the headphones. Usually I hate the crowds, but I was oddly ok with them cheering on Batman on directly me (yes, I realize the logic is faulty, but I’ve just finished running 3.1 miles, and I’m not all there).

And then I was done. I took the little bottle of water they gave me, and started cooling down and drained the bottle in the process. I went back to the car, grabbed some cash and bought a small bottle of powerade and a hot dog. Killed both of those. Got another powerade and then a bag of chips. At this point, I drove home. About halfway, I decided I wanted pizza instead of a burger, so I called a pizza place and ordered a pizza to go (the equivalent of a small at most chains). And I killed that pizza. Tasty. So tasty. The closest thing to servings of vegetables that I’ve had all day. And as I write this, I’m eyeballing a bag of chips sitting on my bar from my pre-race lunch. I had a sandwich but opted not to test my luck by eating the bag of chips. Probably for the best. And now I have more chips to eat.

But that’s it for now. I’m exhausted. I have no good pictures to share. But I shared music, and music is life.

A bit of foreshadowing: The next post will probably be about the people you see at the races. I jotted some ideas down before leaving today, so that should be in your near future.

-Q

#ihaterunning

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