Fall is for leaves, pumpkins, scarecrows, taffy apples, cider doughnuts, candy corn, pumpkin lattes….
(I’m either making you very hungry or feeling close to barf)
And, more importantly, the fall is for 5Ks!
I never thought I would be one of those people who writes a race report about a 5K. But since I haven’t raced in the past year because of oh….being a large pregnant mammal (closely related to the whale but with no blow hole unless you count my piehole which you have every right to kindly ask me to shut sometimes), I just want to yap on and on about racing now that I can so here goes, I deliver unto you…
The 5K Race Report
My goal is for this blog to take me less time to write than it took for me to run the 5K. And since this wasn’t my fastest 5K ever, I’ve got some time to kill.
Let’s start at the beginning. That would be the night before the race. You’re supposed to sleep, right? My child cooperated. My body did not. How is it that in a state of constantly lacking sleep I CAN NEVER FALL ASLEEP! It was so bad that I actually purchased an ‘app’ for the iPhone of sounds that are supposed to make you fall asleep. That explains the symphony of crickets piped in through my bedroom last night.
It didn’t work.
Finally I fell asleep, woke up at 2:30 am and thought to myself – why hasn’t the baby woken up yet? (this coming off of the previous night where he was up nearly EVERY HOUR). You know I went into his room to be sure he was breathing. First I hovered near the crib, then I dangled my head over the crib. Then I tried to put my ear to his nose but the crib cut off circulation to my stomach so then I just resorted to touching him.
Which woke him up.
Good thing, because I was already awake!
The next stop was 5 am, my alarm! The day greeted me with a bowl of oatmeal and currants which can only mean one thing….RACING!
It’s time to assess where my running is at. I’ve been back at running now for about 6 weeks. Getting back into it, building up my endurance again, doing a few short speedy pick ups, running 3 times a week. The 5K was going to be a baseline of where my run fitness is at – heart rate, pace. Trust me, the last thing I want to document right now is how slow I am with running. But to make progress, you first have to accept the current version of yourself.
And then plot like a mofo for how to get your speed back.
The race was chock full of kids, families and dogs. Very few serious-looking runners (and what qualifies you as serious is a man with shorty-shorts, a singlet and hairy legs or a woman wearing racing flats and one of those headbands that covers your ears because…really, WHOSE ears get cold when it’s 58 degrees out!?).
This race hosted a 5K, 3K, kids race and a mutt strut (that explains all the dogs). I warmed up then headed to the start to find it swamped with kids. There were 1700 people at this race and at least 1680 were kids. Now if you’ve ever been at a 5K start line with kids you know that they have balls out speed for about…100 yards. And then they fade. Then you’re left to run through the fall out.
(as much as I love kids because I have a kid, as Chris and I realized the other morning at the bagel shop, it does not mean I have to love other people’s kids, especially when they are screaming I DON’T WANT TO EAT THAT as their father tries to force feed them a bagel)
At the start line, I looked around. I’m surrounded by grade schoolers. And as much as I didn’t want to have to run around (or over) them, I found myself thinking….
FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER: I’m one of the tallest people here!
It was an incredible feeling of these are my people. THIS IS MY TRIBE!
Back to the race. All of the kids were talking – loudly – and I could not hear any of the announcements. All I know is that a bullhorn was raised, a few kids bolted and then it blew.
Yeah, their timing was a little off!
And, as predicted, the kids bolted the first 100 yards and then it was about 15 of us in the front.
My plan for the 5K was simple: GO HARD FROM THE GET GO. You see, you don’t have time to build into a 5K. You just go. Hard. And then hang on. It’s over before you know it. If you do it right, you don’t even have time to realize that it even started.
I quickly found myself running in third position. The other two women were right ahead of me. I felt controlled, strong. I had the Garmin but shoved it into my jog bra. You can’t be in the race – racing it – if you’re always look at your wrist to see what pace you’re running. You’re either ahead or behind. In both cases, RUN HARDER.
Feeling good, I decided to make a move into second place. And hung behind the top woman for awhile. But I could still hear the other woman behind me. Dangling. Now, I knew that I probably wasn’t the fittest woman out there but I knew I could race smarter. The course had about a dozen turns, so I tried surging out of every turn, surging on the downhills. I had a million excuses why I could have given up, let women pass me but I found myself thinking – NO. I am here to fight today. No matter how bad this hurts! I had a small human ripped out of my stomach 12 weeks ago. Nothing will hurt worse today!
Here I am not hurting.
I found myself at the first mile at a pace about 45 seconds faster than my ‘all out mile’ that I did 4 weeks ago – WOW! Now all I have to do is sustain it. OUCH! Somewhere in the second mile another girl passed me. I got pissed! But I knew I was in the good place. I could still see first place up ahead. But then the other woman passed me. Come on legs, come on lungs! I hit the next mile about 15 seconds slower than the first. Hold it, just hold it! Sitting now in fourth, I saw the third woman right in front of me. Make a move…NOW! I surged past her and dammit – she was still right there. We turned a corner and I knew – now or never – GO! Finally – dropped her a bit and then the race joined up with the 3K. All of a sudden the course was littered with small kids, strollers, leisurely joggers. I ran toward the finish line and thought I had a good lead but with 100 meters to go all of a sudden a flash of long legs and white cotton race shirt flies by me….she outkicked me!
(but it’s safe to say I had no kick anyways)
At the finish line: outkicked but I got this free bottle of high fructose corn syrup which makes me feel like it was all worth it.
Now, I crossed the line in a time that was nearly 2 minutes slower than the 5K I did about a year ago. I’m not pitying myself for that – but want to show women who come back from pregnancy what to expect. There’s a timeline of coming back that I hope to track in this blog as I get back into racing. Since last year, I’ve lost about 30 seconds per mile. But in that year, I’ve gained many pounds, lost most of it, didn’t run for 5 months, had major surgery and also carried a person inside of me. I can go on but I won’t. All of that is behind me – and all that matters now is what lies ahead.
I knew how I did but part of the fun of racing is waiting for results to confirm, right? Though the announcer asked everyone not to rush the bulletin board, I grabbed the baby and told Chris I was going to bumrush the poor man posting results. Chris looked at me like stop and I said, no one is going to question a woman with a baby! Seriously this baby is my golden ticket to socially unacceptable behavior anywhere! Results are in: I finished 5th overall, 1st in my age group, 1st in the most adorable baby division and best performance by a lactating mother.
I’m going to revisit the 5K in a few weeks to continue to track my progress. And like a newbie again, progress right now is easy to come by. Today I was nearly 30 seconds per mile faster than I was at the sprint triathlon 3 weeks ago. Wow! If I didn’t know any better, I’d ask the WADA to check my blood.
But all they’d find is lots of estrogen, some baby spit up and (decaf) coffee.
It’s coming back, the pipes and legs are coming together. And when they finally click…I’m going to be busting out that 16 minute 5K in no time.