Monday, June 17, 2013

Race Recap: Run For The Pies 5K

a.k.a. I Fought The Heat and the Heat Won!

What I imagined the race would be like.
What it was actually like!

Saturday at 7:30 pm, I finally ran the race I had been training for all spring.  I think I was a bit naive to think that I might be able to PR.  In fact, almost every article I read about racing in high temps went something like this:

  1. Try to acclimate
  2. Hydrate well
  3. Dress in light colored, sweat-wicking clothing
  4. Don't foolishly imagine you can PR this race!
But, I figured I was different than everyone else on the planet and maybe I, and I alone, could PR a 5K in hot and humid conditions. yeah -right. (Just a note - it was low 80s at race start!)

We arrived at the race about 1 hour before the start and paid to park in a lot close to the finish line.  In fact, I could see the starting corral  from my car, and that always makes me happy!  This was a rather large 5K with about 1500 participants.  It's called "Run for the Pies" because anyone running in less than 20 minutes for men or 24 minutes for women gets a pie.   Brian and I already knew we were not in contention for a pie!

Packet pick up was easy.  I went through my regular pre-race warm up and then stopped to watch the Elites race.  30 minutes prior to the start, there was a Nike Championship race for runners who could complete a 5K in under 17 minutes for men and 20 for women.  Everyone who ran under 16/19 minutes got a free pair of Nikes.  Their course consisted of 4 or 5 loops - which I imagine they just hated, but which gave the onlookers plenty of opportunity to onlook!  I was amazed at how effortless these young people made this seem.  It looked like they were just out for an easy run, when in actuality they were running faster than I ever have in my life.  The guy that won finished in under 15 minutes!

It was during the Elite run that I realized I was already dripping sweat.  Not a good sign!

Soon after, we mere mortals started our race, and everything seemed fine at first.  I stuck to my pace and didn't get too bogged down in traffic.  But then about 1/2 a mile in I noticed that my pace kept slipping below the 9:00 minute mile I was trying to maintain.  Then I hit the 1 mile mark and two things happened.

  1. I realized that my 9:00 pace felt more like 8:30
  2. I hit the stop button instead of the lap.
It was probably 1/2 a mile before I figured out that my Garmin was actually paused.  By that time my legs were lead, my lungs were bursting, and my brain was fried.  I had a moment of arguing with myself about "giving up", but in the end I realized that not having data was totally throwing me off my game.  And it was flippin' HOT!  I felt defeated.  So I just forgot the Garmin and started running by feel.  I would pick someone and stick with them for a while, then slow and walk for a few seconds and then pick another runner to pace me.  

I  could sum the second half of my race in one word: lonely.   I had kind of stepped out of my head once I decided to quit trying for a PR, and I realized just how alone I was in this sea of people.  I do not normally consider myself a "social" runner - but in this instance I would have done anything to have seen a friendly face!  When I think back, I realize that during races I am actually quite chatty.  After my 1/2 marathon I even came away with a few life stories!  However, no one in this race seemed particularly friendly - myself included.  It was just too darn hot!

When I finally saw the finish line the clock was ticking towards 30 minutes.  I knew I was at least 20 seconds behind the gun time, but just seeing that 29 made me sad.  I finished, walked towards the car, saw my husband and I think we both said at the same time - "That was horrible!"

We opened the back hatch and were sitting on the bumper - two red-faced, defeated, sweat-dripping,  runner-wanna-bes, when a father and son walked past.  They looked totally legit - and kind of happy.  So my husband asked them how they did.  "Pretty good" the father said with obvious pride.  Brian said something about the heat, and the father said "Yeah, we were both about a minute off our best times.  

In that moment everything came into focus.  If two good runners, young and old, were running slower, then what was I upset about?   In the end, my official time ended up being 29:18.  If I subtract 1 minute for the heat, and consider that I really didn't give it my best effort - then I feel certain that I could have finished under 28!

Time: 29:18
Average pace: 9:27
A/G Place: 25th of 74
Would I run it again?  Probably not.  It's just a bad time of year for a race in Florida.