I set one goal: complete a 5K every month this year.
And it’s done. It’s so frickin’ done.
In an ideal world, I would have had more ambitious goals. In the real world, those became things I would have liked to have completed. I had vague ideas of running an entire 5K, of posting sub-30 times after a couple of months, of honestly getting close to if not under the 25-minute mark by the end.
None of that happened.
Fortunately, those weren’t my goals. My goal was to complete a 5K, not be super awesome, just finish. And I finished.
Before we go any further, today was a first for a race. I won my age group.
Ok, so that’s really not that impressive when you actually look at the full picture, but at least I was running.
I didn’t stick around for the awards though. They were about an hour after I finished, and I didn’t feel like waiting (though I didn’t know at the time I would have won something with my paltry time.
All in all, the run kind of sucked. I didn’t go in with ideal circumstances, and the race wasn’t ideal even had I walked in with ideal circumstances.
We’ll start with a recap my less than stellar past few months.
It started with a nagging knee issue in late summer. I was able to keep running, but day-to-day pain isn’t a fun way to go about business. And then I hurt my foot in early October. After 6 weeks I finally saw a specialist. Literally that morning before the appointment, the pain was gone. They ended up saying it was probably a bone bruise. I still feel twinges every now and then, but all in all it was healing. I ran once. Then Thanksgiving happened, and I got sick.
If you’re keeping score at home, I got injured early October and sick in later November. Here’s how running went from that point on. No running before the October race. The November race was a week later, so no running to avoid exacerbating the pain. The pain is gone. I ran once. Went on holiday and then was sick for a week. Then had a week to recuperate for the 5K. That’s right. 3 runs in a bit more than 2 months before I ran this 5K.
And I still ran a comparable time to my earlier races.
Of course, that’s not the full picture. The November and December runs were actually relatively easy courses (especially compared to the monstrosity in May). My times were OK these past two races because the courses weren’t bad.
Well, sort of.
Today’s wasn’t a fun course for me to run. Without further ado, we’ll talk about today.
I actually had to trek out 140 miles for a 5K this month. There weren’t any nearer to me that I could make it to, so I actually ended up within a couple of miles of my August race. Luckily, this course wasn’t as brutal (and there was no dog crap on the course).
For the 5th time this year, I was in a hotel the night before my race. That always messes with things a bit. The beds are comfy, but they’re not my bed. I always sleep a bit fitfully because of that (though, oddly enough, I sleep great in hotels at all other times).
When I got to the event, it wasn’t marked great, but it did have markers. I stepped out of the car, and it smelled like cow crap. I never saw them, just smelled them. That was a first for a race (and keep in mind, in May we were on an actual farm, and I drove past cattle).
The pre-race stuff was the usual. Someone on the mic said a few words. They had a group stretch. I refused to stretch (because, you know, static stretching before you run is actually a bad thing; call me when you want to stretch as a group AFTER the race).
A Santa started off the race with a ho, ho, ho (I’m really not kidding). It was a themed race, so people were in all sorts of odd getups. There were a few people dressed as Christmas presents. Lots of folks in odd hats (including what I believe may have been a Rastafarian Santa hat). Some were dressed up in Nutcracker-type tutus.
But they were all losers because there could only be one winner: the dude dressed as cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation.
Dude had the robe, the hate, the can, and the cigar. That’s commitment.
Once the race got going, it was sort of the same old same old, and sort of not.
It was typical from the standpoint of I jogged as much as I could but interspersed with walking (and the accompanying yo-yoing with other people).
It was not typical from one particular standpoint I hated: we looped.
I hate loops. I wasn’t told about the loop (or I wasn’t paying attention when they did).
See, what happens is I make this loop not knowing I’m making the loop twice (hence I hate loops, not loop). All of a sudden, I’m seeing a very familiar route, and there are no markers talking about running the stupid thing twice. It’s possible the volunteers were saying what was going on. I was listening to music and my Zombies, Run! app, so I can’t verify this.
All I know is I’m taking the loop again with slight variations. Where we randomly ran an arc through some grass, we didn’t this time (hiding behind the 1KM in the pic is that arc). And then as I closed the loop again, we took a left instead of going straight.
Now keep in mind, I didn’t know what was happening the first time. The second time, I’m thinking we may have missed a turn.
And then I noticed some things.
The sign that had the random arc was gone the second go round. Then at closing the loop, there were signs marking laps (including one that mentioned a lap 3 that we didn’t take).
If you’re keeping score at home, this is what we call poor planning. They were making and moving signs in the middle of the race. Had there been a really fast runner, he would have messed up their whole system.
What made this loop nonsense worse is that I get a decent headache in the middle of the run. Getting a headache and doing a second loop (that you weren’t entirely sure was supposed to happen at the time) made for an angry Runner 5. I still don’t know what triggered it. I can’t remember getting a headache during a run (but I have gotten them later in the day on a regular basis). My initial thought was that it was a lack of caffeine. I’ve been backing off of sodas, so I’ve been playing the caffeine game as my only source was disappearing. It may have also been dehydration though. As I was running, I was already planning on taking an ibuprofen and drinking a Coke. And then I finished and the headache went away before I could really treat it with anything other than a Powerade and a banana. One the way to hotel, I got gas and a Coke, so I treated the headache lots of ways except the ibuprofen.
As for the path itself, it was a Jekyll and Hyde situation. Part of the race was on a paved path. A+. Can’t ask for better than that. Part of it was just through random parts of grass that weren’t clearly marked and had minimum signage. C-. And part of it was an actual trail (I think) that was covered in leaves, which were covering some gnarly roots. C.
The really fun part about the roots and leaves was that the roots had actually been sprayed so they could be seen more easily (a similar tactic was used in the gnarly May race). But here’s the kicker. You couldn’t see the roots at all, with or without the paint, on much of the run because of the leaves. The leaves were supper dense and actually constituted a hazard in an early downhill portion.
I will say this for the second loop: It wasn’t as bad as the first in terms of finding footing. You learn to watch the people in front of you and just take their path if it worked out. You also knew where the major tricks were, so you could take what you did before or take an alternate if the first didn’t work. The second loop was also better because of the foot traffic. By then, a huge chunk of people would have already gone through twice, so the leaves were getting trampled and kicked out of the way.
I finished, and I was exhausted. Some lady basically came running out to me with a Powerade, which was pretty cool. Usually they’re pretty passive, but she was on her game.
As I said earlier, I didn’t stick around for awards. I headed on back to the hotel to get showered and changed so I could hit the road.
But not before I got all artsy for a pic:
I was Runner 5 today, so today’s actually the first race where I listened to my Zombies, Run! app. It wasn’t much different than a typical race except the music was my usually run music, whereas my race music is usually something I don’t listen to as often to keep me mentally engaged during the race.
And that’s a wrap on the Super Awesome Year of the 5K.
It was 37.2 miles of slow running and walking, but it was 37.2 miles, plus however many more I ran to prep for the races. I think the main thing is that I was paying more attention to my body than I was the year before. I didn’t lose weight, I didn’t get a six pack (though I drank a few), and I didn’t become some health nut, but I’m paying attention.
It wasn’t an ideal year by any means, but I still accomplished something. And if nothing else, it’s inspired me to keep setting goals (and I have an abundance of superhero workout shirts if I’m ever in a pinch).
Next year, I’m really going to torture myself, but it won’t be with running. I’ll be setting monthly sets of daily goals, none of which will involve running goals. I’d still like to take a shot at a 10K, and I have one 5K already on the books (and another one or two I’d like to run), but we’re going to shift direction. I’ll keep the blog going as I track the Super Awesome Year of the Quisto, but we’re going to take a bigger picture view of health and well-being. There weren’t be any race shirts, but there will be plenty of my trademark snark.