Wait, that sounds weird.
Officially clocked a 32: 17. I’ll take it.
So here’s the breakdown of this post: prep for the race, the day-of shenanigans, race organization, and then the race itself.
I’d love to tell you this was some nuanced thing. That I was upping my miles, doing speedwork, running hills, etc. Instead, I was running, which is better than me not running in July and August. I am upping my miles (slowly) to get ready for the Super Awesome Year of the 10K, but I wasn’t doing anything to prep for the 5K in particular.
The big thing was icing aches and pains. I bought some of the freezable gel packs, so that was my big race prep. My back’s always a liability, and I whacked the crap out of my shin on my dishwasher door and then ran on it twice before deciding I might need to actually treat it.
Folks, it’s been a long week. It really has. I’m tired. I need a nap. I need a good night’s rest. I’m still recuperating from loss of sleep from Tuesday night. I even bought a new pillow to help out.
As such, I woke up around 4:30 this morning because who doesn’t wake up early when they’re sleep-deprived? My alarm was set for 5:30, but an hour lost is an hour lost.
For my pre-race fuel, steel-cut oats and lemonade. That seems like a totally normal thing to do. I may need to start actually testing my pre-race meals before going to 5Ks and such.
As for getting mentally in the game, I listened to the Nerdist episode with Anna Kendrick. Also not a tested strategy, but it was a nice distraction. If it wouldn’t get me a restraining order, I’d propose to her. Or I’d at least offer to buy her a beer. Actually, I’d probably just quietly sit around hoping she noticed me and thought “he looks so interesting, but I should probably leave him alone while he’s awkwardly reading a book alone in a bar.” That’s right, my best-case scenario is that my celebrity crush considers talking to me and makes the active decision not to. I have issues.
The real problem for prepping for this race was figuring out what to wear. Forecasts were ranging from 45 to 55 with wind out of the north.
This is a very awkward temperature for me. I’m ok in the cold if I’m not running. But cold air on my lungs is hell. Saliva starts to thicken and then clogs my throat, and I can’t breathe. I’ve had issues where I literally started choking during runs because of this. But I also don’t want to overdress and then pass out at mile 2. Actually, that’s a lie. I don’t want to overdress because I don’t want to look like a goober.
So here’s what I did: I grabbed every piece of cold-weather gear I had and set it out the night before so I’d have all my options available in the morning so I wouldn’t feel rushed. This included my jacket and pants, two long-sleeve cold-weather compression shirts, one long-sleeve non-compression cold-weather shirt, and one long-sleeve warm-weather shirt. I also had my race shirt prepped (Punisher, FTW), shorts, and underroos.
When the morning rolled around, it was clear that the pants and jacket weren’t going to be necessary for the run, but if the race started on time, I might need two cold-weather shirts under the race shirt (one compression and the cold-weather non-compression). I also realized my legs would probably appreciate compression shorts instead of the underroos I originally picked out.
Racing is serious business.
When I got to the race, that’s when the real fun began. I walked in to get my packet in my three shirts and jacket. Got back to the car and ditched the jacket. And then I realized I didn’t need both long-sleeve shirts, so I ditched the non-compression cold-weather shirt. Then after waiting around a while longer, I realized it was going to be too warm for the compression shirt, so I listened to The Donnas as they told me to Take It Off in the parking lot.
I then was in my non-compression cold-weather shirt and Punisher over the top.
The packet caused its own issues. They put the safety pins in the bag loose, so I had to empty the bag just to find my pins. And then right before the 10K was going to start, which is 10 before the 5K started, I learned when they said chip-timed, they did not mean on the race bibs. I wasn’t paying attention and missed the fact that there was a timing chip that was supposed to go around my shoelaces. Whoops.
After a quick trot to the car, I retrieved my chip and was good to go.
Before talking about the race, I always like to talk about organization and such. A good route can be ruined by poor organization, though a crappy route can’t really be saved by organization.
In terms of pre-race info, they were a little light on specifics. Nothing too bad, but they don’t give the route (though they act like they do by saying the route might change), and they also don’t give specific times when the different races will start. At least not until the night before.
As for in-race organization, they had blue and yellow tape to differentiate the two races going at once. This works if the tape is visible. In some cases, you wouldn’t see both sets of tape. At one spot, the tape was placed in an awkward spot that didn’t make it clear where you were supposed to go (and was not helped by the person hold a sign and directing traffic whose waving was not at all helpful). Luckily, I never strayed from a crowd, so I was just following the same people.
This is what you came for, right? You just wanted to hear my in-race witticisms.
The gun (well, cowbell) went off at promptly 8-something o’clock to get everyone going. And I did something I’ve only recently figured out: I didn’t take off like a jackrabbit being chased by a coyote. I trudged. I hate trudging.
The start went surprisingly well. Usually there’s someone who creates a log-jam from the start, but this time there was none of that I could see. There were a couple of people with dogs that were not intent on running calmly. I know it might just have been the excitement of the crowd, but one of those dogs acted like it’s never been running before as it yanked its owner everywhere. I may have found this a little too amusing.
Unfortunately, I don’t have much to say about the race itself. No one said anything to me who shouldn’t have (there were some exuberant volunteers who might have failed a drug test had one been provided) and no one grabbed me to keep me running. It was relatively event-free. I think the big thing was that I was pretty good at making myself keep a reasonable pace.
As usual, I had to start my run/walk process eventually. I made it through my first mile at 9:30ish before the walking began. I’d actually fallen into a decent pace with a trio of runners before the walking started. Of course, I still yo-yoed with them a bit during this. We’ll call them A, B, and C, and then a fourth, D, came into the shuffle. A and B were running together. They were the last people I passed before I started walking. They soon passed me and slowly worked away from me. C had been behind A and B, but didn’t keep up with them, slowing down as the race went. C became a sort-of barometer for me to start walking if I started catching up. D I think was ahead of me the whole time before I caught up. After the halfway point, D and I were basically keeping pace with each other pretty well before I started picking up speed toward the end.
Side note, let’s appreciate the awkwardness of the accidental running buddies during a race. It always happens. You find someone you’re keeping pace with and you just have to hope it’s not too weird. I just want a sign that says “I’m sorry that I’m running with you. I promise I will neither crowd you nor try to talk to you unnecessarily.”
When I ran the whole 5K in April, I was slow the whole time, but when I let myself walk, I tend to pick up the pace on my running intervals.
It was those last two spikes that put me past D for good and then got me close to C before making the obnoxious pass in the last couple of hundred yards. Turns out I’m still that guy.
I was gassed. I got a side-stitch to close out the race and was desperate to pee. About 15 minutes before I was set to start, I realized I needed to pee, but I thought I could hold it. Turns out I could, but let’s imagine had that guess been wrong.
After relieve, I was in search of fuel. I ran this race last year, and it was one of my favorite post-race binges. Last year, I ate two slices of pizza, a sandwich, and a cookie, topped off with a Coke. This time was one of my least favorite. Water, apples, oranges, and bananas. That’s all they had. The first time’s how they hook you before pulling the rug out from underneath you. I grabbed a banana and bottle of water and called it a day as I headed in search of bad things (Chick-fil-A, for those keeping score at home).
Oh well. The race could have gone better, but it could have gone a lot worse. It should be the last 5K before the Super Awesome Year of the 10K kicks off, so I’ve got a long way to go before I’m ready to not die on the path.
See you in the future.