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Posts Tagged ‘5k’

Firecracker 5000

When I ran the Great Kilted Run at the end of May, the announcers were promoting another race that was being put on by the same organizers. It would be at midnight on the Fourth of July in downtown Seattle, and that just sounded like way too much fun to pass up. Since it was only a 5K, I decided to squeeze it in to the busy schedule for the weekend.

Irwin came with me, and when we arrived at the Seattle Center, we discovered it was way chilly. I was wearing my Brooks singlet and arm warmers, and I knew that I’d be just fine once I started running, but standing around before the start was a little rough. Since my running (well, exercise in general, really) has been a little sporadic over the past couple of weeks, I didn’t really have any big expectations for the race. I knew I wasn’t going to run another PR, so my goal was just to run hard and have fun. I lined up halfway between the 8:00/mile and 9:00/mile in the start corral, figuring I’d be able to run something in the 8:30-9:00 range.

A few minutes before midnight, we were off! We had to go up a small but fairly steep hill to get out of the stadium where the start/finish line was, but I just reminded myself that going down that same hill at the end would be really nice. We came out of the stadium, made a few turns, and were on the roads of downtown Seattle. I knew this wouldn’t be a flat course, and it didn’t take us long to hit our first hill with an underpass. I let my legs stretch out on the downhill and powered up the other side as fast as I could. The first mile or so of the course headed back towards the expressway, so there weren’t a lot of spectators. That didn’t matter, though, since I was just enjoying being out and going for a run in the night air.

I totally missed the first mile marker – it was on the right side of the course and I was on the left – and I quickly decided I just didn’t care. I was going to run my butt off, and if I had to stop and take a wee little walk break to catch my breath? That was fine.

Somewhere around the 1.5 mile mark, we started up a loooong uphill. I remembered it was there from the Livestrong ride I’d done a couple years ago, and I was just as displeased with it. It just seemed to go on forever. On the plus side, there were a couple of bars along this stretch where the customers were standing on the street cheering us on. The encouragement definitely helped, and we passed a few more bars between that point and the stadium.

The course was two loops – a 2-mile and a 1-mile, more or less – so we passed by the stadium right around the 2 mile point. I hit that point around 16-minutes, so it was fun to see the race leaders heading down the final stretch to the stadium before I turned off for my second loop. The second loop was mercifully short, and when I heard the finish line as we ran around the back of the stadium, I gave it everything I had left. Coming around the last corners, I knew I wasn’t going to beat my last 5K time, but I was going to be right around it. Perfect. I was expecting one more turn to get into the stadium, but it was just a straight shot.

I hit the downhill into the stadium hard and threw myself across the finish line.

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Final time: 26:42. Just 11 seconds off last time. I was just thrilled to pieces to reproduce that sort of effort on a more difficult course, since it tells me it wasn’t a fluke. (I didn’t really think it was, but it’s still nice to have it confirmed.) After crossing the line, I found Irwin, who wasted no time in letting me know how much running he had done, with all his camera equipment and everything, so he could see me both on the course and at the finish. I patted him on the back as I told him how proud of him I was, to which he simply said, “Ew, you’re sweaty. Don’t touch me.”

Well, he left me no choice there, so I showed my appreciation for all his hard work with a big sweaty hug. He was totally asking for it.

After terrorizing my fiance, I made my way through the finisher chute and collected my post-race refreshments. In this case, that included Top Pot donuts, which go down as the second-best post-race food ever. (First place goes to the watermelon that was after the Mayor’s Half in Alaska.)

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Irwin got a donut, too, which I offered to put on a string so he could have a medal. For some reason, he turned it down.

Overall? It was an excellent way to kick off the Fourth of July, and totally worth staying up past my bedtime for. The only thing that could have made it better was fireworks at the finish.

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Two weeks ago, I was supposed to run the Kirkland half marathon.  Part of the course runs along roads that I run on all the time and the start/finish line is just a few miles from the house, so why wouldn’t I run it?  Initially it was supposed to be part of my training plan for the Mayor’s Marathon in June, but since the logistics of it were so easy, I left it in the schedule even after I decided to drop down to the half marathon at Mayor’s.  However, that morning I discovered something that I’ll need to remember for next year: that race is cursed.

At least it is for me.  When I was supposed to run it two years ago, I woke up that morning with lady cramps bad enough that the idea of running for a couple of hours was enough to send me back to bed.  Last year, I didn’t register for it because I was still rehabbing The Foot and I just wasn’t in shape to run it.  This year, I was healthy, I was in shape, and I was convinced I was going to have an awesome day.

Which I did, for the first three miles.  Then something happened and my digestive system staged a rebellion, for reasons that are still unclear to me.  I walked a bit to let things settle down and feel better.  Then I realized I needed a bathroom.  I’d passed one about a mile back and, thinking the next one was much closer than it was, I decided to just keep walking to the next aid station and go there, rather than backtrack.  I wound up walking another 2 miles before coming up on the nearest facilities and at that point?  I was done.  The pit stop didn’t make me feel any better and I had no desire to stick the race out because… why?  I know I can run a half marathon.  I know I can run it well.  And I know that if a ride home is waiting for me a half mile up the road, I’m going to take it rather than spend 2 hours dragging my sorry behind over another 7 miles.  So that’s what I did.  I was just grateful The Boy was still there waiting for me instead of assuming he’d missed me and moving on to the finish line.  (Happily, we were close enough to home that, had that been the case, I would have just gone straight to the house.  I was that done.).

As tempting as it’s going to be to run that race next year, I might just accept the fact that the universe is trying to tell me something and pass on it.

Happily, the 5K I ran this past Sunday has a much happier story.  Based on my time from the 10K I ran in March, McMillan told me I could run a 5K in 27 minutes.  That sounded totally reasonable to me, so I made that my goal.  Sort of.  A 27 minute 5K would mean a pace of 8:40 per mile, but I decided to shoot for 8:30s… just because.  I have absolutely no logic for this outside of, “It sounded like a good idea.”

Naturally, after a week of sunny 65+ degree weather, race morning was windy, overcast, drizzly and… 45 degrees.  A bit brisk, especially since we were all wearing kilts and standing on the lakefront while waiting for the start.  Happily, once people started to congregate around the start, I was able to position myself in the middle of the crowd so I was protected from the wind a little bit.  I’m not sure if it actually helped, but I told myself it did.  I positioned myself about halfway back in the pack and impatiently waited for the gun to go off.

When the race started, I immediately realized that I should have stuck myself way, way closer to the start line.  I was passing people left and right, which made me wonder if I was going out way too fast.  I don’t wear my Forerunner for races, instead relying on a plain old watch and mile markers to tell me how fast I’m going.  It’s a system that’s worked well for years, but in short races like this where I want to go out aggressively, I don’t get any sort of feedback on my pace until the end of that first mile, and this was one of those races where that mile lasted forever.  I checked my effort level with myself a few times and, yes, I was going pretty hard but, yes, it still felt OK for a 5K effort.  I convinced myself I was right where I needed to be and didn’t need to change anything until my time at the mile marker told me otherwise.  When it came along, my watch read 8:35.  Exactly where I needed to be.

The surprising thing is… I was still passing people.  Even more surprisingly, the crowd I was running with was mostly guys.  And I was passing them.  Sure, they’d probably spent some quality time warming up in the beer garden before the race, but I was still passing by them and, stranger yet, the women on course were few and far between.  I kept chugging along and hit the second mile marker with a split of 8:28.  Perfect.  One more like that and a bit more and I was home free.

The third mile took us back to the starting area which meant running directly into a headwind in a few places.  That was less than enjoyable and it slowed me down, but just a wee bit.  The Boy had joked pre-race that I needed to run this one fast so he wouldn’t have to stand in the chilly weather all that long, and when I passed by him around the 2.5 mile point I asked him if it was fast enough for him.  To which he replied, “Run faster!”  Smart ass.

I hit the mile 3 marker with a split of 8:37 and dumped everything I had left in the tank into that last tenth of a mile.  I’d been hanging on the back of a guy for the last quarter-mile or so and I tried desperately to pass by him, but couldn’t quite get there.  I was OK with that, though, since as I crossed the line the time on the clock had a “26” in front of it.

Final time: 26:31.  A new PR by over a minute and, get this: good enough for 5th in my age group.  Yes, it was a small race and no, there weren’t a lot of fast women (the first woman crossed the line in 21:05), but that’s all beside the point.  I was in spitting distance of placing in my age group for the first time ever, and it felt pretty darn good.

Additionally, this race was also a wee baby step towards my big pie-in-the-sky goal of someday qualifying for Boston.  To do that, I need to run a marathon in 3 hours and 4o minutes.  Now, since my fastest marathon to date was around 5 hours and 20 minutes, this clearly isn’t going to happen anytime soon.  However, the pace that I ran this short little 3 mile race at?  Is the same pace I need to run a marathon at in order to go to Boston.  Yes, I’m still a very, very long way away from being able to do that, but this race puts me one little baby step closer and makes me feel like running Boston may eventually be possible.

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As soon as I decided to do the New Orleans half, I decided I was going to incorporate races into my training.  I could make up some reason about how I think it's important to have race day practice and running something like a 10K would help me relearn how to maintain a controlled pace in a crowd and all that, but really?  It's because I think racing is fun, so why not?  I picked this one because, well, it was on a Sunday (my Saturdays are currently occupied by a volunteering commitment) and it was during a weekend that I'd be in town.  Winner!

It was a 5K race around Seattle's Green Lake.  There's a running path that circles the lake and is about 2.8 miles around – to make up the extra .3 miles we did a little out and back past some basketball courts around mile 2.  I've never run on the path but I've heard good things about it and I can now confirm: it's a lovely little path to run on.  Probably even more so when it's not being taken over by 800 racers.  Considering this was the first year they ran this race and the weather was crappy, I think they had a pretty excellent turn out.  Any more people and it would have been far too crowded at the start.

My goal for the race was to run it faster than the Seafair 5K I ran in July, and I figured I could do that if I held a 9:30 pace.  That sounded totally reasonable, so I went for it.  Despite the crowds, I hit the first mile marker in 9:25.  Perfect, right on target.  I continued hauling my butt around the lake and hit mile 2 with a split time of 9:16.  Awesome.  On target for my goal with a bit of breathing room.  I was working hard, but felt pretty good.  I was definitely in a place were I felt like I could keep it going for another mile or so.

If I had a complaint about the race, it would be this: there was no water station.  Almost every other 5K I've run has had a water stop somewhere around the halfway point (in fact, I can't remember the last one that didn't have a water stop there).  Sometimes it's closer to the two mile point, but it's there.  Now, I'm not faulting them for not having one – it was a 3 mile race in 40 degree weather.  No one was about to die of dehydration or heat stroke or anything.  Heck, I'm not entirely sure I would have wanted the water had it been available.  However, I discovered today that the water stop is an important part of my 5K race strategy.  Even if I don't take any water, it gives me an excuse to walk for a few seconds and mentally refocus myself.  I can adjust the pace if I've gone out too fast and hit the second half of the race with a fresh start.

About a half mile from the end, I found myself needing that fresh start.  I knew we were closing in on the end, and for that reason I resisted it for as long as I could, but the fact was I was going a bit faster than I really wanted to and I needed to reset myself.  So, even though I felt like a giant lame-o, I stopped and walked the next 100 feet or so.  Happily, that was all I needed.  I picked the pace right back up, felt much better, and hit a mile 3 split of 9:25.  (Which, if that's the split I had even with the walk break?  Well, that explains why I needed the walk break – clearly I was going a bit too fast.)

As I passed the mile 3 marker, I noticed a middle-aged guy on my left shoulder.  I was planning on giving that last tenth of a mile all I had, but I decided right then and there that I wasn't going to let this guy beat me.  I was going to win this one, because some dude with a bit of a belly was not going to get the best of me.  Unfortunately, it seemed that he had also decided he wasn't going to let himself get beat by a girl because as I picked up the pace, he was right there with me.  He even got a bit ahead of me for a bit.  That's when I gave it all I had.  I felt woozy and dizzy and sort of wanted to throw up, but the finish line was in sight and I was not about to let him cross it first.  We both got passed by a ton of kids who'd barely jogged most of the race given how fast they were plowing through the finish line, but neither of us cared.  We weren't going to let the other one win.

I crossed the finish line ahead of him, but just barely.  I have no idea who he is, but I'd like to thank him since I'm pretty sure I finished about 10 seconds faster than I would have otherwise.  I meant to tell him something along the lines of "nice finish" as we worked our way through the finishing chute, but by the time my lungs were safely back in my chest he was long gone.

My finishing time was 29:01, which was a full 40 seconds faster than the race I ran in July.  Considering that up until a month before the race I was only running sporadically, I'm pretty happy with that improvement.  The best part of the race, though?  Cupcakes at the finish!  One of the local bakeries had a little booth with bite-sized cupcakes, so I grabbed one on my way back to the car.  Definitely a nice way to end it.

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Brilliant!

I woke up this morning, and for reasons that I wasn’t fully aware of, decided it was Wednesday. I have no idea why, but as I got dressed and took the bus and then the train, I was in a very Wednesday mindset, thinking of the Wednesday things that I do, and generally enjoying the fact that it was the middle of the week, yay. I was especially enjoying the fact that Wednesday would put me just a hop, skip, and jump from the weekend, which promised to be a big one (The SAK! Blood donations! Body Worlds! Socializing! And lots of it!). It wasn’t until I was stepping off the train in Union Station that I realized it was only Tuesday. In fact, that was when I first became conscious that I had been thinking it was Wednesday. My internal clock/calendar, she is a mystery.

However, my disappointment at realizing I was a full 24 hours further from the weekend than I’d been led to believe was quickly tempered by the fact that a new CD I’d been looking forward to came out today. In fact, I fired up iTunes before lunch, bought and downloaded it, and am happily listening to it right now. And it’s good. (And, yes, I’m a dork. I’m a big dorky girl who things Matchbox Twenty is still one of the best things since sliced bread, even though everyone else got over it 3 or 4 years ago. But I still think this new solo CD is good and has everything I like about Matchbox Twenty yet is slightly different and I’m going to listen to it over and over and you can’t stop me!)

Ahem. Anyhow, before we delve further into the closet of Dawnie’s Ridiculous Musical Preferences, let’s move on to more important things. Like this past weekend!

Of course, this past weekend wasn’t particularly groundbreaking. There was the broken washer (which was fixed when I got home from work last night. That’ll teach me to do laundry over the weekend instead of being a lazy slacker and waiting until Monday) which failed to drain and made me wring out an entire load of clean-but-not-rinsed clothes by hand (verdict: Not Fun). We won’t even discuss the fact that it never occurred to me to rinse them by hand as well until after I’d killed 3 dryer cycles (and the remaining funds on my laundry card) drying it all. That sucked, especially since my clothes aren’t really much cleaner than when I started. Thankfully, this was a “do a few loads before it gets out of hand” sort of laundry day, not an “oh shit, I don’t have any clean underwear for tomorrow” one.

And, of course, that was just a continuation of the brilliance I exhibited Friday evening when I fell asleep on the train home. Now, falling asleep on the train home isn’t a big deal – I do it all the time, but since my stop is the 3rd one, I’ll wake up before I have to get off the train. Friday? I woke up just as the train was leaving my stop. Shitshitshitshitshit. Naturally, it was an evening express that went right from my stop to the end of the line, which meant I got to take a cab home from that station. (The next train heading east didn’t leave for another 2 hours.) Apparently that station is out in the middle of nowhere, and so I got to pay a cabbie (and, y’all, I hate taking cabs by myself, because cab drivers just make me uncomfortable for some reason) $26 to take me home. Actually, he took me to the Holiday Inn right off the freeway, and I walked the last half-mile or so home. The meter was already up to $26, and I only had $28 on me and was not about to attempt to guide the cabbie down the side streets to my apartment while trying not to panic about the fact that I might not have enough cash on me at the end of it all. Besides, it was a nice day out, which made for a lovely walk.

The worst part? When I called The SAK to tell him what had happened, he wasn’t even surprised. Now, I realize that this is just the sort of thing we all expect me to do sooner or later, but at least we all have the decency to pretend that I’m a bit more on the ball than that. At least he knows I’m a dipshit and loves me anyway?

Thankfully, in between the unnecessarily expensive cab ride (and the cabbie didn’t even start the meter until we were on the freeway, which probably saved me at least five bucks) and the laundry disaster, I had a nice weekend. The high point of the weekend was Sunday morning, when I ran in the Lisle Chamber 5K. It was a teeny race, and something I decided to do 3 days before the race. (Which, talk about a change: 2 years ago, a 5K was something I needed time to plan and train for, now it’s something I do because, “What the hell – I’ll get a shirt, and I’m going running anyway that morning, so why not?”) One of my goals for this year is to run a 5K in under 30 minutes, and this was going to be it. I figured if I could run 13 miles in just over 3 hours, I could certainly get through 3 in a half-hour. Heck, I can run 5 miles in an hour – doing 3 in half that time should be no sweat, right?

Except speed and distance training are two completely different animals, and going from 5 miles in an hour to 3 miles in a half-hour requires shaving two minutes off your time per mile. Which is huge. Really, really huge. I hit the first mile at 9:45, the halfway point at just past 15:00, and two miles somewhere around 20:00, but that last mile? Was hard. I don’t run that fast when I’m doing my long runs, and I’m just not used to it. I did pretty well, though – I found the energy to sprint the last quarter mile or so (this is just something that I do – I’m all about the Big Finish for races, and no matter how tired I am, I try to cross that finish line like I mean it. Even in Disney when I practically limped through the last two miles, I ran through the finish) and finished in 31:16.

So, not quite what I was shooting for, but damn close, and certainly a heck of a lot faster than the last 5K I ran (almost 4 minutes faster, actually). I’m happy with it, and I’ll break that 30-minute mark on the next one. (Check this – results are online, and I placed 205th out of 286 overall, and 8th out of 13 in my age group. I’ll take it.)

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Run, Dawnie, Run!

I did it! Yesterday morning, I ran in Cleveland’s Race for the Cure, and I actually managed to run the whole thing!

Did I win? Heck, no. But that wasn’t my goal. My goal was simply to run the entire 5K (3.11 miles) without stopping. I wasn’t sure if I could do it or not – I’d been “training” at home, but not as often (or as hardcore) as I had originally planned. I was hoping to work up to running 3 miles on a regular basis. However, since “flat ground” is apparently a foreign concept where I live, I had enough work to do working up to a 2 mile run. Hills? Are nasty evil things. The ones around me, naturally, are not gentle rolling slopes, but big ol’ things. My training wasn’t entirely in vain, though, as my legs were more than strong enough to carry me for the whole route. (I’m not even sore today!) Finishing the race was just a matter of endurance.

Sadly, my endurance wasn’t as helped by the hills as my strength was. By the end of the race, I was ready to be done. I was still able, though, to pull out the lead for a big finish. This was greatly aided by the fact that the last bit of the race was downhill. Yes, there is a God.

Did I mention that The SAK ran with me? I couldn’t believe it either when he said he’d do it. He suggested I register in the first place, but didn’t appear to have any plans of his own to run. Once I was signed up, though, he decided that he wanted come along with me. At first, I was a bit nervous. He’s in much better shape than I am (seeing as he biked 150 miles this summer), and I was afraid I’d embarrass myself by getting flushed and sweaty and generally dying by the end of the race.

However, as Race Day drew closer and closer, I started to get really excited about the fact that he was running with me. I’d have company! I didn’t have to run by myself! He wound up being an excellent cheerleader. Periodically throughout the race, we’d comment on other runners or the route or Things in General. Thankfully, though, he was happy to run in silence with me for most of it. (I tend to get into my Zen Running Zone, and constant conversation would just mess with that.) His natural pace is a bit faster than mine, but we found a happy medium. Running with me might have slowed him down a bit, but it made me push myself more than I would have if I was by myself. When I started getting tired towards the end of the race, he kept me going. Sure, I had the attitude, “if I’ve run this far, there’s no point in walking the last half-mile,” but he helped me stick to it. When we finished the race, he looked up and got our time, since I wasn’t wearing my glasses and couldn’t see it. All in all, he was a great cheerleader/race partner, and I was really glad he was there.

Of course, the local news covered the event. One of the newscasters was in charge of ringing the start bell. The poor woman must have had to ring that bell for 10 minutes straight for everyone to get past the start line. There were so. many. people there, I was amazed. I’m guessing about a third of us ran, and the majority just walked. The SAK and I walked the first bit, as we had to navigate around the crowd, but by the time we got through the first half-mile or so, we were ahead of most of the walkers and had plenty of room to run. We saw the news helicopter fly over a few times but, mercifully, there were no cameras on the street. (I get really flushed and sweaty when I run – it’s not pretty, and I’m sure I look like I’m dying or in need of medical attention.) Until the end, that is. When we rounded one of the last corners, there was a camera man on the street filming us. At this point, I’m flushed and sweaty. My chest hurts, and I’m starting to feel like I can’t breathe. My stomach’s not feeling so hot, either (I was glad I knew enough to not eat a big breakfast that morning). Yet, I still managed to smile big and wave for the camera as I passed. I guess I didn’t feel quite as bad as I thought I did.

That’s the story of my first 5K race ever. A successful 38-minute run has inspired me to keep running, and to keep running in these races. Unfortunately, race season is more or less over now, but I’ll need to keep training all winter so I’m ready for next year. Who knows – maybe a half-marathon may be in my future. We’ll see.
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