It was supposed to rain and thunderstorm all morning, and I was thrilled. Unlike most races, where I dread the sight of rainclouds, I was hoping that the storms might keep some people home from the race and make it easier for me to fight way through the crowds at the start. However, no such luck. Although it looked like it might rain, there were no drops falling from the sky, and as I got in the car, I told my mom that I was disappointed. It was probably going to rain, but because it wasn’t raining already, it didn’t matter because people wouldn’t stay home. The worst of both worlds.
However, it turned out to be an excellent day for a run. The rain and t-storms actually held off, and the sky was overcast enough to not be hot. There was a nice breeze (sometimes a bit windy, but not by much) and temps were in the high 60s. Perfect!
We got to the plaza and scrounged up my race t-shirt. Last night they had run out of t-shirts for the on-site registration, and they told me that today if not everyone who pre-registered picked up their shirts, I would get one. Unfortunately, that meant I got a large (that and extra large were all that was left). Another sleepshirt for the collection! I really should make one of those running quilt things out of my race t-shirts.
I didn’t have too many running shorts with me, and I hadn’t done laundry since Burlington, so I was forced to wear a pair that are a wee bit short. They’re not really uncomfortable, but they feel a bit inappropriate when I’m not working out in the comfort of my own hotel room. So when we walked by the expo, I made another impromptu decision: to buy a running skirt to wear. I figured it was only a 5K, and even if it was uncomfortable, it was a short enough run that it shouldn’t actually cause me problems. Turns out – I love it!! Why didn’t I buy a skirt sooner? So cute. The only thing I don’t like is that I feel weird wearing sneakers with it. Have they come up with any running stilettos yet?
After ducking behind one of the vendor booths at the expo to change into the shirt, I headed up to the start. My mom snapped a quick pic, and then I plunged into the crowds to secure my spot at the front.
I found myself at the 18:39 projected finish sign – way faster than I intended to be. However, there were a ton of twelve year olds running around who clearly were not going to be running it in 18:39, so I figured I’d try to be just ahead of them. I plugged my iPod in and tried to turn it on… and realized I hadn’t charged it since the marathon and it was out of batteries! I looked for my mom in the crowd, but couldn’t find her, and didn’t want to run with a dead iPod strapped to me. Fortunately, I remembered that I’m now a member of the ARE, so with 10 minutes till the start, I headed back into the expo to ask the people at the ARE booth if I could leave it there, which they happily agreed to. Problem solved.
After some announcements that I couldn’t hear (seriously, they should just not make race announcements b/c it’s too loud and the mic is always too fuzzy to hear anything), some guy sang the Star Spangled Banner. Unlike the girl who sang it at the Providence half, he got the words right – bravo! However, when he got to “for the land of the free,” everyone started clapping and cheering. I hate when people do that. The song is not over until “the home of the brave.” The origins of clapping after the word “free” are just because sometimes singers hold some ridiculously high note for a ridiculously long time, and it’s applause-worthy. But it is not the end of the song! Just a little pet peeve.
Without any other fanfare, a horn sounded to signify the start of the race, and we headed up the short hill (about 100 ft up in 0.13 miles). I felt gross – completely out of breath and tired. I couldn’t tell if it was because I’m sick (I have a cold that has made my voice sound awful and my nose all stuffy), if it was because I hadn’t done any real cardio in several weeks (I took a break before the marathon, and then the actual marathon I went slowly enough that my muscles were tired but I didn’t really get my heart rate up much till the final sprint), or if it was because we were starting on a hill. Either way, I felt kind of like crap. At the 1K mark, I was at a 4:50 pace, but kilometers confuse me, so I didn’t really know what that meant except that I was on track for a 25:00 5K. Then I got to the first mile marker at 7:45 – wow! That may have had something to do with why I was tired.
I tried to keep it up, and even though it was a short race, I missed my iPod :( It’s such a great source of motivation for me, and I was really sad not to have it. I tried to sing my friend Kelli’s playlist contribution in my head (“If you’re going through hell, keep on going, don’t slow down…”) but it just wasn’t the same. Fortunately, before I knew it we were turning out of the park, which meant we were past the halfway point. 5Ks are crazy quick – I felt like I wasn’t even warmed up yet!
At the turn out of the park, there was this woman who I remember from last year, yelling and cheering and just being an awesome fan. Unfortunately, the rest of the route was fairly deserted except for the 1/4 mile that was the start and finish of the race. There were a few people watching, but no one really cheering – I think they were looking for specific loved ones. I wanted to do that “raise the roof” motion that means “make some noise!” but I was kind of lazy, and just wanted to focus on finishing as quickly as possible.
As we headed back through the park one last time before the final downhill stretch, I felt tired, and debated walking for a few seconds so I’d have enough energy to really kick it in the last few moments. Then I realized I had done a whole marathon without walking, and there was NO reason for me to walk in a 5K! Some guy on our way back through the park had a boom box playing “Born in the USA,” so I got that in my head and it provided a good beat for the rest of the race.
In the last 1/4 mile, I picked it up and found myself passing a bunch of people. As I came down the hill with everyone cheering, it felt great, and I was surprised how few people were sprinting down that stretch – it’s MADE for a great finish! Then I got to the bottom of the hill and I remembered one sucky thing about the Freihofer’s course: you get to the bottom of the hill and you still have another 100 yards to go till the finish. It’s not uphill, but after having sprinted downhill, it sure feels like it. Around when I hit the bottom of the hill, I saw 24:45 on the clock, and I tried to use 25:00 as a goal to push myself, but I missed it, crossing at 25:07. Still not a bad time – it’s pretty close to my PR of 24:37, and it beat the heck out of my 31:50 finish last year. (Too bad I didn’t have 31:50 as my unshaven 5K time or I would have had this contest in the bag).
After the race, I headed inside to claim my iPod… and found that I was the first runner to make it to the massage tent. I have NEVER been among the first to the massage tent, and I’ve never gotten a post-race massage because I never wanted to wait in line. Sweet! I climbed up onto the table and proceeded to get it drenched in sweat while I got my massage. I know that’s kind of a gross image, but just wanted to let you all know so that if you ever head for a post-race massage and aren’t the first one there, you know what’s on that table.
After that, my mom and I met up at the ARE table where I bought my very own team singlet that I will be wearing in the race this afternoon. With that plus my new running skirt, I’m going to look totally hardcore! :)
When the results came in, my time was 25:08… which means it wasn’t really a chip timed race. My mom swore I crossed the finish at 25:07, so the only way for it to be 25:08 is if they didn’t offset the starting time for the fact that I started a few seconds back. And now that I think of it, I don’t remember going over mats and hearing the beeping at the start – because they weren’t there. Jerks! Makes me even happier I started up in the front, even though I know it’s not fair/nice to do that.
Distance: 3.1 miles
Overall place: 403/3097
Age group place: 48/236
Other race reports:
Marcy at I Signed Up For This?!