Friday, November 11, 2016

2016 DECA Veteran's Day 5k Race Report

It was a last minute decision but I wanted to give the race a try. I did it a couple of years ago and enjoyed the small-town feel. Most local races are small but this one is what I would call "hyper-local" in that there's rarely more than 20 people there. This year there were only eight runners. That's right, 8 runners.

But I didn't know that when I got up this morning. I didn't sleep well last night. Lots of tossing and turning. Weird dreams. Cold sweats. It's been a long, rough week. So I had low expectations when I dragged myself out of bed and into my running clothes. I ate some toast, had some coffee and did my pooping.

Since the race was all of 5 miles from the house, I didn't need to get up super early. But I still left with more than enough time to get there since I still needed to register. Once registered, I asked how many people they were expecting. The girl said only six people so far. Which made me nervous. I didn't expect a medal or prize or anything like that, but I was nervous about placing. If I were an elite runner or a regular at placing in my age group I'm sure I'd become used to the sensation of getting on the podium. But now that I knew I was even remotely close to placing anywhere in the top ten, I was a bundle of nerves.

Once I hit the bathroom a few more times, we listened to the NJROTC do the Pledge of Allegiance and then were were off to the Start line. Eight people. All I needed to do was finish the race and I'd automatically be in the Top Ten. There were only five men so I was automatically in the Top Five for my gender. And only one guy looked old like me so I was at worst second in the Masters Division. All of these thoughts left my mind, briefly, as we started the race.

And maybe I should clarify a bit, it was a race, but it was also billed as a fun run/walk. So there wasn't a lot of "racing" going on. Sure, we all went out and ran, but I don't think very many of us really, REALLY, pushed the envelope and raced. Except maybe me. But I ended up racing myself, not the others, so I'm not sure how much that counts as actually "racing."

Anyway, the Cross Country Coach decided to take things easy on us and instead of making us run the actual course, we ran a heavy mile loop ("heavy" as in it was a mile loop but it was a little longer than a mile to make it come out to 5k or 3.1 miles at the end). And it was almost perfectly flat, just a small rise of maybe 50 feet of gain per loop from the lowest point to the highest.

The first loop I settled into 6th place and cranked out what felt like a good, but fast pace. I knew I was going too fast but I wanted to push things a little and see how close I could get to last week's time of 33:40. I kept the weird hat lady (I know her name, that's just what I call her in my head so I can remember who she is - she makes funny hats, including a Yoda hat for my son) in close reach. I didn't plan to pass her and she looked like she could easily drop me if pressured. But I wasn't racing her, I was racing myself.

I came around the turn for the first mile and looked at my watch and nearly shit a brick. I was way, WAY faster than expected. Like two minutes ahead of pace. I knew I went out fast and now I was worried I would blow up. I didn't but I did slow down a little bit. But I also kept my foot on the gas because now I was looking beyond the 33 minute goal, beyond my 31 minute PR, and staring down the barrel of a sub 30 minute time. My ultimate goal. Sub-30:00.

I went into the second mile with a whole new chain of thoughts. Should I push hard and aim for sub-30? Or should I ease back and aim for a new PR? Or should I just go with the flow and see what happens? I opted for a little of everything. I'd continue to push but not hard enough to hurt myself. So I came through the second loop and there was Coach again telling me to aim for the sky and keep digging. My split was slower and as I went into my third mile I didn't feel like I could make up the lost time. But I still pushed hard. And when I felt like I needed to puke, I let off the gas. A little. By this time I had just passed the young man in front of me and could see the next two runners in front of me. I had moved into 5th and could see 4th and 3rd ahead of me and I had less than a mile to go. The game was on.

My position never changed but I did my best to push hard at the pace. As I came out of the woods one last time, with maybe a quarter mile to go, I glanced at my watch and saw I wouldn't make the sub-30 goal. But a new PR was still in the air and so I ground it out to the Finish.

After a quick recovery I cheered on the last runners to come in. We walked over to the water table and the first three runners got medals. I never expected any award but ended up walking away with a 5th place finish (I know, I know, 5th out of 8 runners). And to make things even better, I got a new PR. Not only a new PR for the trail, but one that's faster than my previous road PR. I'll take it.

Temps were about 40F but quickly warmed to 50F during the race. Sky was clear, sun was out, and there wasn't much wind.

Fluids and Fuel:
Two slices of toast and coffee before the run. Plain water during the run. Recovery was nothing.

Aches and Pains:
Felt pretty good before, during, and after. Had that "gonna puke" feeling but it passed as I slowed down a bit.

Wore pants, shorts, thermal top, t-shirt, BUFF, and gloves. Ditched the pants before the race started. Ditched the BUFF after the second mile.

Today's Motivation:
Aside from my mental need for a run, my body needed it too. My training has been horrid this week but I'm making wonderful progress on the attic insulation. And there was a little bit inside of me that wanted to surprise my coach.

Naughty Neil:
This week has been horrible for my diet. I've eaten all of my emotions many times over. I'm afraid to get on the scale. But this race, this new PR, has given me that joy, that smile that I needed. I'm hoping it's enough to get my eating back on track.

(remember the miles are a little longer so they total 3.1 miles at the end)
Mile 1 - 10:00
Mile 2 - 10:42
Mile 3 - 10:11
Finish - 30:53 (new trail 5k PR, new 5k PR)

No comments: