Well, my training totally fell apart over the past month. Combination of things, but mostly I didn’t make it a priority… I’m in a slump! So although originally I had hoped to match my previous time (29:56), I didn’t think that was going to happen. I told J I’d be grumpy if I didn’t beat 32, and realistically, it seemed I ought to be able to do that even though I wasn’t in top shape. (Also I’m still hovering at 120 pounds, because, again, I haven’t made eating right a priority. It’s depressing how so much goes hand-in-hand, so bad decisions about eating lead to bad decisions about exercise, etc. I need to get that virtuous circle going instead!)
The morning got off to a bad start when I spilled coffee all over myself and my race outfit. I rinsed it out (good thing about running gear, it dries quickly!) I was able to park within a block of the start and got there in plenty of time. Weather was OK–overcast, good, but humid, not good. When I picked up my packet, it turned out they gave me a T-shirt even though I didn’t pay for one. It’s a nice dusty blue color so even though it’s an XL I might keep it. One of the bike races was still going on, fun to watch. I warmed up with several runs, stretches, etc., & wandered around the expo tents (nothing terribly exciting). I saw my co-worker’s husband who’s an Endicott policeman, so that was cool–he shook my hand & said “It’s easier than the marathon, right?” Yes!
When I finally made my way to the start I was behind some of the Ethiopian or Kenyan runners and I was admiring their physique and form–they really did look built to run with their skinny muscular legs and arms. I lined up way at the back. The race was using timing chips for the first time, chunky yellow boxes that look like early digital watches on velcro bands. I thought that was great because the start is pretty crowded, but as it turns out there was no mat at the start so they just gave the order of crossing the finish line with the clock time. “Runners, set, go!” and we were off. Although I was already at the back I got passed by dozens of people within the first block, including two dads with strollers (although at least one passed off to a mom further along). I was running near some people with visibly terrible form and though “geez, I ought to be able to run faster than *them*!” But as I’ve learned, I am just plain SLOW…
My race strategy was to visualize a dial going from 1 to 10, run the first mile at 6, the second at 7, then turn up during the last mile. I took the first 2 miles too slowly the first time I ran the Chris Thater, which is very flat. I was focusing on keeping an even pace and running my own race, not getting distracted by people around me. Easier said that done when several times I ended up next to people running about my speed and breathing very heavily.
After the first few blocks nobody passed me and I started passing a few people, but I was clearly way, way back. First mile: 10:21. The water stop was at about 1.5 miles. I was running next to a woman in blue who seemed to be struggling & said “half-way!” She said she thought we were further along. She took a cup, I didn’t. (If I’m properly hydrated I certaintly don’t need a water stop in a 5k, but I think I had been a little cavalier about hydration.) We ran near each other for almost a mile; I kept pulling ahead and then she would sprint past me. I felt bad because she seemed to be really laboring to pass me and I was partly rooting for her to beat me, but I was still husbanding a lot of my resources and I couldn’t help but think that I would outstrip her eventually (and I did). Second mile 20:53. Argh–slower than the first. I started to feel that maybe I wasn’t as well-hydrated as I should have be, although I might also have been having a hot flash–the humidity was bad. Rounding the corner onto Beethoven Street, I reminded myself not to turn it up too far too soon. The race is psychologically difficult because you cross the start again and then have several long blocks to actually reach the finish, so it’s easy to think you’re closer than you are.
The magical finish line energy kicked in about a block away and I could feel myself starting to float into a sprint, but the clock was already at 31:something–not surprising but a little bit of a letdown. At least I would beat 32, and I did: 31:38. Good after-race stuff: Fig Newtons, Nature’s Harvest Pecan Crunch granola bars, and a Crowley truck handing out all sorts of stuff: I got string cheese for protein and later finished off with chocolate milk. I saw the woman in blue come in, a few elderly runners, and some little kids. That’s my competition!
The Scranton “Race for the Cure” (Susan Komen Foundation) 5K is September 17… maybe too soon. I do want to do another 5K this fall.