Saturday, February 12, 2011

5ks Aren't as Scary as I Remember

Philadelphia’s recent freezing, snowy winters have apparently made me a bit hard. When today’s forecast called for a high of 40 degrees I immediately decided that capri tights, a tank top and arm warmers would be perfect attire for today’s Cupid’s Chase 5k. Fortunately, I decided to bike to the start line as it was only a handful of miles from my house and mostly downhill so I had a few extra layers on. The race was actually freezing and I wore just about everything I brought (minus the thermal tights, bike shoes and helmet, although wearing all that could have been awesome).

Note to Laurie: The possibility of a 40-degree high does not mean that there won’t be wind, that the temp will reach that along the river that runs along the race course, or that the high will be reached at 9 a.m. It also does not mean that 40 degrees is warm.

Bill decided to sit this one out and served not only as cheerleader, but as the mule for my scrapped stuff while I ran. Best early Valentine’s Day gift ever!

I was sort of nervous -- I hadn’t run a 5k in forever, since the summer of 2009 (I think). There’s a reason for the 18-month lapse and for why the memories I have of the distance have faded – they aren’t remotely pretty. Lungs and legs on fire every step of the way, dry-heaving at the finish line and then coughing up lung junk for hours afterward don’t exactly make me want to run one every weekend.

It was quite unwarm as we waited around for the race to start (this was its first year, and there were a huge number of walk-up registrations that they hadn’t expected). I couldn’t feel my feet that well and my eyes watered from the cold wind.

Finally it was time to go. After almost running down a racer in a giant fanny pack pushing her uneager 5-year-old son in front of her (sorry!) a few feet after the start line, the field spread out quickly. I was surprised, because there were about 600 runners crammed onto an out-and-back along a 12-foot wide paved, flat trail. I found myself running alone after the first half-mile. Took a quick glimpse behind me and didn’t see anyone too close to race, and the closest runner in front of me was too far to simply chase. I felt like I was in a race of one.

My brief warm-up had been fairly terrible. Everything felt slow and heavy, so I was surprised to see the first mile tick by at a solid pace for me. A few minutes later the leaders passed on their way back and I surprised myself by coming to the turnaround without feeling like a hot mess.

And then, a collision. I stare at my feet when I run unless I am on technical trails. A bad habit and terrible form, I know, but it’s what I do. As I was on my way back, there were occasional packs of people running on their way out, four or five across. I didn’t see him coming directly for me, he didn’t see me either and I managed to bounce off of a 78-foot tall, inexplicably sweaty, dude (sorry to you too, sir). I stayed on my feet and decided to look up to avoid future head-ons. That’s when I realized that I was starting to catch up to a small pack of runners about 10 yards in front of me and I was slowly able to reel all but one of them in (Vibram 5 Fingers Man, I salute you and your ability to take off like a gazelle when you realized you were about to be passed) and I managed to pass a couple more people before nearing the finish line.

In college I rowed for a few years  and when we were bad or slow, our “punishment” was to run basically the exact race route. I always ran with my pair and we’d always fall into a dead sprint about 300 meters from the end. That was 12 years ago but it sounded like a good plan to me today, so off I went at the exact street sign that used to trigger our sprint.

I crossed the finish line and realized I probably could have gone a bit faster. No real dry heaving (although I’d like to borrow someone else’s lungs for the rest of the weekend), no feeling like complete death. Not necessarily a good thing. I was happy enough with my time though, especially since my main focus in training right now is slow but steady adventure racing, not anything remotely fast. I think it was my third or fourth or maybe fifth or 67th fastest 5k (I am bad of keeping track of my times except for a few PRs that I hold near and dear) but I know it wasn’t a PR (I’d love to know my 5k PR… I have a rough idea and know what race it was, but can’t find the results).

My co-worker Meredith ran today too. She is starting to get sucked into racing, slowly but surely and was hoping to beat her previous 5k time. I am glad I was paying attention to the people finishing as opposed to the clock because she scooted across the finish line about two minutes ahead of schedule. A two-minute PR in a 5k = impressive to me.

Here’s a picture to commemorate Meredith’s big day:

No medals (but we did get coconut water, that stuff is delicious!) but I happily added the race shirt to my many layers for the bike ride home. That hurt more than the run, actually. I’d taken the pack of stuff from Bill (I swear it weighed 789 pounds) and got to ride into a headwind most of the way. I happily tumbled inside the house and haven’t moved off the couch since, except for a brief nap I took on the dining room floor.

Windburnt! Home! Thank God for heat!

I had fun today – much more fun than I thought I would. Now I am peeking around for a 5k to do in the next few weeks. Not to train for specifically, but there’s something nice in a 5k about knowing that the finish line is never too far away.


(Just) Trying is for Little Girls said...

Sounds like you had fun, at least. I like the 5k better than the 10k! Good luck in your next one.

Mallory said...

Sounds like you had a good time!! Glad you didn't freeze too badly!

Julie said...

Sounds like a great race! I did my first official 5k this weekend. I liked it, but I only got a truffle - no shirt :-(
I've never wanted to pay for such a short race before, but I might be hooked.

Glad you had fun!

Tanya Patrice said...

Sounds like a great race and fun times.

kilax said...

I am happy you enjoyed it! And it sounds like you were speedy.

I went out in the 40s on Sunday thinking the same way. Yeah. It was windy, and I was cold. Over-eager much? Oops ;)

Melissa said...

I love your description of 40 degree weather! I have had to remind myself that dressing for running in colder weather does not mean I should dress the same way when I am hanging out/running errands around town!