Sunday, October 9, 2011

I learned a lot today.

Today I participated in a 5K race in Tucson.  I had a blast and got all of the free goodies from vendors and learned a thing or two.

The first thing I learned is that one should not be in the bathroom when the race starts.  That should be self-evident.  I can be a bit dense.

Actually, the race started 5 minutes early.  Where the bathrooms were staged was far enough away from the PA system that I could hear them, but not understand what was being said.  Plus, they talk so much that after a while I just tune it out.

Anyhow, I step out of the bathroom and hear the count down 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... pop.  I ran over to the race and hopped in line.  My official time was about 30 seconds slower than my stop watch.

The course was a lot hillier than expected, though it wasn't what I'd call a hilly run by any stretch.  It just wasn't at all flat.  All good, I run hills daily, we're on speaking terms, hills and I.

On the first mile my left hamstring started to hurt...crap.  I just kept my stride short and hoped it would go away.  The morning was cold and though I'd run about a mile warm up or so, that was close to twenty minutes earlier.  I also think that the crowd being pretty thick and corners being slow with everybody sneaking towards the inside of each turn contributed.  I felt like I had to speed around people or get stuck waiting behind them.  At one point I jumped over the curb and around a parked car.  Dang, why was I in the bathroom at the start.  Ugh.

At mile one I was 7:24.  I was very happy with that.  I hoped to break 24 minutes.  I've not been able to really run except this past Monday because of a hip/hamstring injury from late June.  My hip felt great, the hamstring loosened and things were going well.  I fell in behind a kid and followed him as he picked his way through.  Shortly after the first mile things started to thin and people started falling off.

The second mile was mostly uphill and went through the neighborhood where I'd parked as a UofA student.  I remember thinking how much things have changed since then!  Mile two was 6:20.  Whoa.  My pacer was speeding up too.  I did my best to keep up with him, but could never catch or pass him.

A few minutes into the third mile my left calf really started to hurt.  It was painful on my short run Wednesday morning.  As I finished the run, the third mile in 7:02, it was screaming at me and on the fringes of a full on disabling cramp.

All told my official time was 20:58, earning me second place in my age group and 15th over all.  I am pretty happy with that, especially for my first ever race!  Well, technically I did participate in a 5K in early July, but was injured and walked the whole thing finishing dead last.

The second thing I learned is that these races pay for themselves if you place.  I earned a small gift certificate to The Running Shop.  In combination with the free give aways from the vendors, I came out quite a bit ahead, financially speaking.

The third thing I learned is how nice runners can be.  I met with a fellow blogger on runnersworld and also talked with the man who won the half marathon.  In fact, his last 5K was faster than the 5K winner's time.  He asked how I did and congratulated me.  Pretty cool guy.

The last thing I learned was the important of good race hair.  Here's my effort:

All told I had a great time.  My mother went with me and tried to take pictures on my phone, but ended up just being moral support.  I got a free massage after the race and then went out to breakfast.  The calf is wrapped in ice and hopefully that won't keep me out of running for more than a day or two.

This past week I had a great time.  I had an awesome run Monday, the best in months.  My hip is finally healed.  I had a strong 40 mile ride on Tuesday in high winds.  Thursday morning I did a short two mile run before going to the gym, and Friday I had a very fast bike ride in high winds.  My power is increasing noticeably on the bike lately.  Combine all the training with the run today and I'm feeling pretty good right now.

I can't wait for my 11/11 10K trail run and then the big one, the half marathon in December.  I do know this, running a 5K is a heck of a lot easier than a 70 mile bike race.

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