After a few months of race hiatus, I put feet to pavement (and then gravel) this morning to complete my slowest 5K ever: 34:48.
It was a brutal race and it was also one of the more poorly organized (if not THE most poorly organized).
After my 10K in May, I was basking in a good after glow. I let my running slide a little in June, but I was still keeping a regular habit. And then July hit. With some health issues, I was only able to put in 2 runs. After getting the all-clear from my doctor, I set my sights on a 5K to help me get back on the horse.
In the process, I also seemed to have forgotten that I was supposed to eat all of the food.
With the help of the Zombies, Run! 5K app, I was able to get my mileage up high enough to survive the day (and not much else) and put in my best mileage month since May (if I’m brave, I could match it this week, but I doubt I’ll risk it).
All in all, I’ve gone into races in worse shape, but I’ve definitely gone with better conditioning too.
As disappointing as it was to put in my slowest time by more than a minute, I was more annoyed with the race setup. This was a first-time event by college students, so it’s understandable, but the missed the most important detail when they put together their info page: They never listed the start time.
Yep. No start time. There’s an event time, which I thought was the race time until I saw some context clues that tipped me off. I emailed the organizers and then got a vague answer. People showed up the day of thinking the race was starting an hour earlier than it actually did.
So that was the big thing.
The other aspect was that the race route was never posted. Not the most important detail, but it helps. They also started about an hour after the morning stopped being pleasant. 7:30 in the Mississippi September? Good time to run. 8:30? Not so much.
Basically, you could tell it was put together by people who weren’t used to 5K events. It actually ran relatively smoothly as an event, but it had issues.
Now for the good part.
I was there with a group of friends, all of whom were going to be able to run the whole thing, so I knew I’d be bringing up the rear. Sure enough, we split up pretty quickly. I ran with one of them for the first mile before I had to start integrating walking.
This is where it gets dangerous: When I hit the big hill on the course (and not at the top mind you) and had to start walking, I was at 193 for my heart rate. As much as I walked, my heart rate stayed pretty high.
My Garmin gives me heart rate zones, and I was in zone 5 for all but about 3 minutes. I don’t recommend that to others in the future. The heat and my increased weight were not to my benefit in this situation.
I honestly didn’t know the route I was taking. It turned out they handed us a sheet when we signed in, but I didn’t read it (’cause who reads things?), so when we started, I just had to follow the crowd.
The course was mostly a nice level run. We started off on a slow, downhill grade, made an awkward loop around some tennis courts, and then hit the gravel road that was the bulk of the route. I was actually kind of hoping we’d get to that way, though I may regret that now.
I’ve never run on a gravel road (not as an adult, at least). The rocks would slip under foot and because it’s not a paved road, they don’t care as much about keeping it level, so there were long stretches of running on a sideways slant.
But that’s not the fun part.
The fun part was the hill. Before I started walking, my friend made a comment along the lines of “Good Lord” when she saw the hill and the people who looked like ants running up it.
Despite walking most of it, I really don’t think it was that brutal. I’m used to a good stretch of slow climb on my regular routes. But again, I was walking.
As I tried to get back into running the route, I wasn’t having much luck. My heart rate never really slowed down, no matter how much I was walking. I was feeling relatively nauseous from 2 miles on. Not a good day at all.
I was mostly just trying to do the best that I could do. The best I could do was slow.
But I finished, and after the run, they had Jimmy John’s, and I think that’s all that really matters anyway.