Um…. Huh…. I’m not sure where to begin on this one, as I was expecting to have a fun race recap to write. And that’s not so much how it went down.
For the half three weeks ago, everything came together perfectly for a great race. This 5K was the antithesis of that experience.
Where the half marathon had nice, cool running conditions, this Saturday offered 70 degrees with humidity that kept the sweat rolling down my head All. Damn. Day.
In the half, I never had a moment where I wanted to quit. During the two, hilly laps around the Pitt at Greensburg campus, I wanted to quit virtually every second – of which there were 1,805. That is, way, way too many seconds. (I was truly “this” close to running to my car and heading home after the first lap.)
I didn’t walk during 13.1 miles; I walked several times over 3.1 itty-bitty miles.
After the half, my bothersome hamstring quit hurting, but the hills on this course reawakened that sore spot.
I was mentally solid as a rock during half a marathon, but I was a hot, f-bomb-dropping mess for five kilometers.
And by as far as I beat my time goal for the half, I missed my goal for this 5K.
Last year, I ran this same race in 27:13 – one of my best times, which earned me second place in my age group. This year, I knew I wouldn’t run that fast again, given I’d been doing mostly slower, flat runs in preparation for the half. Add to that being sick for most of the three weeks between the half and this 5K, and I really didn’t have high expectations for myself. But I still thought I’d run it in, say, 28 or 28 and a half minutes. I mean, I ran thirteen miles three weeks ago. I figured my race mantra would be, “It’s only three miles!” I certainly thought I’d finish in less than half an hour….
My official time was 30:05. In the last 100 yards or so, as I watched the clock tick up to 30 minutes, many, many bad words were said. Loudly. I haven’t taken more than 30 minutes to complete a 5K in a year and a half. I was not happy. Here are the things that worked against me – some within my control and others not so much.
- I was ill for two solid weeks after the half. I only completed five runs between the half and this race. And I did but one of the three hill repeat workouts I’d planned.
- I had two beers (I’d planned on just one) at an event my Rotary chapter hosted Friday night.
- Then I ate junky food from Sheetz after said event.
- And then I stayed up way too late.
- Oh, and I got my period on Friday, which is the worst possible timing. (TMI? I’m pretty sure my husband is the only boy who reads this. If any other boys are reading, feeling that you didn’t need that piece of information…. Well, I was going to apologize, but no. Too bad! Just be glad it’s not something you have to deal with if you race. Or if you don’t.)
Two beers is hardly a lot of beers, but that may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. I felt really parched during the race, even though I drank most of the water I was carrying, and I continued to be really thirsty throughout the day. At any rate, I bet I could have raced at least 14 seconds faster if I could have eliminated even just one of those factors working against me on Saturday morning. Why 14 seconds?
Well, even though I ran almost three minutes slower than last year, I came home with this third place, age group medal.
- Guess how much faster the first place finisher ran. That’s right: she finished just 13 seconds before me. The second place woman in the 40-49 year-old age group finished a mere ten seconds ahead of me. The three of us finished right in a row.
- One very cool thing about this race was the second place gal approached me after the race, before official times were up, and before we knew we’d placed. She told me ‘thanks’ for pushing her during the race, as we’d both passed one another a couple of times on the course. It was nice to be acknowledged by another runner, even though she finished ahead of me. And she and I became race friends over a conversation about the race course, the humidity, and half marathon training. (She’s running her first on October 19th.) By the time results were posted, we knew each other enough to celebrate together.
- Despite it being a terrible race for me, the overall experience was a good one. First of all, racing when you have the opportunity still beats staying home in bed, even if you have a lousy race. Also, it was nice to bring home a medal, even if it felt like – in the words of Crash Davis – “a kind of dubious honor.” In the end, I’m more annoyed about the five seconds over 30 minutes than I am about the fact that I missed winning my age group by 14 seconds. I’ve never won my age group, so that would have been cool. But I hope that if I ever do place first in my group, that it happens when I have a time I’m proud of, too.
- Now, I need to chalk it up to illness, bad weather, and other unfortunate, non-permanent factors, and just get to work on my next set of goals. Running form drills and training start Wednesday!