Saturday, June 08, 2013

A tale of 3 5K's

So while I was in DC I did 3 5Ks...not because I was training to race or was/am in any sort of racing shape (because trust me, I was/am not...though as for the "not training for anything" bit, stay tuned) but mainly for entertainment and to attempt to get SOME sort of reasonably hard running in from time to time. Here are some mini race reports for those 5Ks, since none of them were really spectacular enough to warrant their own post.

Crystal City 5K #2, aka, "whee, a 5K! Racing is fun! Oh wait, no, no it isn't fun at all."
I signed up for this race at like 11 am the day of - sometimes, its hard to break the seal of not racing. Basically the stimulus for this race was the fact that it was in Virginia, and so I could check that state off my 50 states list. Got there far too early, hung out for a bit, and then went to warm up by doing laps around a hotel...very exciting stuff. I really didn't have a good idea of where to line myself up. First, I found myself surrounded by women carrying cell phones and wearing capris (on a 70+, humid evening). Hmm, OK, move up a few rows? I then found my path blocked by 3 middle school boys and a woman with a stroller. OK then, try again. I finally wedged myself into a spot about 6 rows back and waited for the race to start.

I was very impressed with how a race could contain almost 2000 people and still somehow feel "low key". That being said, when 2000 people come barreling around 2 very tight turns at the start of a 5K, shit kind of gets real. And so I got caught up in the crowd and took it out HARD. It's been so long since I raced a 5K, that I was really only getting signals of "hm, this seems fast, but generally OK? I guess?" so I had no clue how fast I was running. And then I came through the mile, saw my 6:18 split, and was just like, well, oops. I guess that's the kind of day this is going to be. About 3 minutes later I began crashing and burning in a big way, and by the 2 mile mark (7:14, by the way. Yeeeeeah.) I was basically on the verge of seeing my life flash before my eyes. I was hot and miserable. Another lovely 7:14 that felt like about a 10:00 brought me in at 21:40. I was 16th woman overall which was extremely confusing, since at a race this big in Boston that time would probably put me in the 40s.  But whatever - I felt accomplished for attempting to race. And then I got my ID denied at Noodles & Co, and went home to my aunt being super proud of me for "just finishing". Non runners are entertaining.
A selfie to demonstrate my feelings about this 5K. They were not very good feelings. Also notice how my face is the same color as the cherry blossoms behind me...LOL. 

Crystal City 5K #4, aka, "maybe racing CAN be fun...if you're not an idiot."
After the atrocious pacing of the race before, my main goal was to run like a non-idiot and finish in a faster time as a result. I had also happened to have drinks with a friend from WTC who now lives in DC the night before, and as it turned out he was running the race as at least I knew ONE person in the crowd. I decided to warm up in the other direction, since running circles around a hotel sounded unappealing. Turns out, there was a lovely rail trail (reminded me a bit of the High Line, only wider) in the other direction...perfect for a nice, relaxed warmup.

The race started late, and the timing on it was a little unclear, so I ended up doing strides (another sign I was actually attempting to race this one for real) like 3 times before we actually got started. As we got underway I had my familiar mantra in my head: DON'T BE AN IDIOT. The weather was a little nicer this time around, and I really had to tell myself to keep reining it in. As we came down the back stretch "Don't Stop Believin'" was playing and ah, I had to grin. This was clearly going to be a better race. Came through the first mile in 6:35 so apparently I succeeded in the not being an idiot plan. As a result, I felt MUCH better during the second mile, and was actually able to pass a few people. I definitely slowed down - 6:54 for mile 2 - but overall I maintained quite a bit better. Mile 3 was, as usual, pretty painful, but mentally I made myself keep pushing and actually held on for a 6:55, so really no slowdown at all from mile 2-3, which is pretty impressive for me! Final time was 21:05, which is actually my 3rd best road 5K ever, so given the fact that I had done NO speedwork whatsoever in over a month, it was a good performance. I also later found out that I was 8th out of over 1000 women, which is kind of absurd - there's no way that time would even crack the top 50 at a race of this size in Boston, but there it was. And then I immediately threw jeans on over my shorts, got on the Metro, and went to the Nats game...runner problems.

Head tilt of death coming towards the finish...pretty typical. I also need to note that I'm really obsessed with my racing outfit right now, since the shorts/singlet combo also match the shoes. I need to find a pair of those brooks shorts in black too!

MBT 5K, aka, "running a shit race, and winning money for only the second time in your life. Because running is dumb."
This race I literally decided to do like, the Thursday before, even though I was really sore from dance, for pretty much one reason: cute t-shirts. It's been far too long since I received a new race shirt and the design of these bad boys was too nice to resist. So...I signed up. The day of the race was so very, very humid. Like in the 90s as far as percentage, the type of humidity where you feel like you are in a rainforest or a sauna every time you go outside. Between that and the fact that my legs were STILL sore from my epic return to dance class on Wednesday, I did not think things were going to go very well. The race was considerably more low key than Crystal City, but still very well run. We got packets with a drawstring bag and GENDER SPECIFIC TECH SHIRTS. Read that sentence again. For a $25 5K, that's pretty much unheard of these days, so I was very impressed. Me being me, I was kind of scoping out the competition and only saw a couple of girls who looked fast, so I began entertaining thoughts of actually going for an award. On my warmup, however, I pretty much immediately felt like I was going to die in the humidity, so I kind of put that thought to the back of my head and figured, meh, worst case scenario, you do it as a tempo.

Heading off the line at MBT 5K. I cannot BELIEVE how muscly my leg looks! (Photo by Gregg Adams)

We got off the line and there were immediately a couple of women out HARD ahead of me. Like the smart racer that I am trying to be, I let them go, knowing that trying to go out in 6:00 pace in this weather would be suicidal. I focused on just relaxing and trying to find a groove. The race was a double out & back on a basically flat bike path, so not the most exciting in terms of scenery but good for zoning out. After awhile, I noticed that we had passed the mile mark (going the other way) quite awhile back, and was starting to wonder when the turnaround would be. We came up under a bridge, and all of a sudden there was just a clusterfuck of the leaders trying to come back in the other direction, yelling "turn around, turn around, you missed the turnaround!" at us. So I basically just did a 180 and went back the other direction. Apparently the leaders ran ~400 extra, and my pack probably added on 100-200m or so. It felt weird because I was suddenly running with a whole different group of people, and it was a little hard to get back in the zone. I ran behind one dude for quite awhile and tried to maintain, but the humidity was really starting to get to me.
Around mile 2. I literally saw the man with the camera and was like "OK, look good for this picture right now". Result: success! (photo by Gregg Adams)

This entire time I had been under the impression that I was in 4th place for women, but when we got to the second turn around, I realized that there were only 2 women in front of me. Well, I'll be damned - my time is going to suck, but I was actually running for an award. The last mile was really a struggle - I felt like I was breathing in soup - but it was pretty cool having people coming the other way cheering for me as I was so far up in the women's race - "You go girl!" "Alright lady!" My personal favorite was when I overheard a small boy, maybe 8 or 9, scream to his dad "WHEN IS IT GOING TO BE OVER???" I feel ya kid, I feel ya. Finally staggered through the finish in 21:50 - blech - but I guess taking into consideration the long course and the weather (and the fact that I was kind of lazy about this race) I couldn't really complain. And I won't lie, even though I got 3rd by a LOT, it was pretty cool repping GBTC at a race in DC (and winning back my race entry in cash. Hell yes!) Overall, a pretty decent day. I would absolutely recommend this race to anyone in the DC area - it's the same weekend as several other higher profile 5Ks, but despite the turnaround mixup I really felt like they did a great job, and what you get for the price is hard to beat!

So those were my 5Ks. Also, I signed up for a marathon on my birthday. I may or may not have had a significant amount of wine to drink that day. So about that whole "training for a race thing?" Welp, I'm training for the Via Marathon, September 8, 2013. Let's do it.