(will run for baguettes — Thanks, Google Translate)
Official Time: 38:59
This was the first time I’ve run this race, and the first time I’ve ever raced mid-week. The temps had been sky high (and the humidity was set to “drown”), and I was nervous that we would see similar conditions on race day. Luckily, the weather gods were kind to us, and we had nearly perfect conditions for a mid-July race. I also found myself kind of stressed about being able to eat right, hydrate, get home in time, etc.
All that being said, as this was the first official race of my Grand Rapids training cycle, I was pretty excited to let my legs fly.
THE PLAN: two miles of warm-up, land somewhere between 7:30-7:45 for the first 4 miles, and then let loose with everything I had in the last ~1 mile.
I met up with my friend Bryce, as well as Jenny, Manny, Britt, and Chanthana, in the staging area just north of the Nature Museum. The environment was really relaxed, and there was a good amount of space to hang out. On tap were two warm-up miles, so Jenny, Chanthana, and I took off with less than 20 minutes before gun time (spoiler alert). About a mile in, we realized that we were cutting it pretty close to race time, and started picking up the pace in order to make it back to our corral. As we were about 500ft from the start corral, we heard “and they’re off!” Whoops. Chanthana and I jumped in about 2/3 of the way back and weaved our way through the slower pacing groups before finally getting to the start line with the 10 min/mi pace group. Derp.
Mile 1 — 7:15-ish? I say “ish” with a question mark because I think I must have hit my lap button at some point just before/after the start line, so my first split was a little ambiguous. There was some decent congestion, but after about a half of a mile of weaving, dodging, and cursing (silently), we were able to find a pocket of room to move. I had never raced WITH Chanthana before (she was always someone I aspired to keep up with), and I found comfort in the pitter-patter of her distinctive gait (not unlike a fast little rabbit). Regardless, this was, um, too fast. Especially since we had spent the first 1/2 mile crawling through the slower pacing groups.
Mile 2 — 7:31. I knew that the first mile had been too fast, and so I consciously tried to slow my pace a bit in the second mile. I had lost track of Chanthana at this point, but spotted Sara ahead of me, and I focused on following her swinging, ginger ponytail. While Sara’s pretty speedy, I knew that she was running this as a fun run; as I was running without music, the chase was a nice distraction for me. The course was still pretty congested at this point, but manageable.
Mile 3 — 7:47. I remember hitting the 3-mile marker and thinking, “Dammit. I should have just run the 5k…” This mile felt pretty long, and there were a few kind of painfully slow portions (including one very narrow underpass along the water where I almost bit it). Still following that ginger ponytail.
Mile 4 — 7:49. At this point, the course felt like it was stretching way too far South to feel good. I still felt pretty good, but it was right around here that I started waffling between, “Still two more miles??” and “Just two more miles!” My leg were really beginning to feel the burn, but I thought once I hit the “final” turnaround, my brain would click over and I could push out the final .97mi with a good kick.
Mile ~5 — 7:57? Again with the question mark because in my finishing kick stupor, I lapped my watch at the 3mi mark and/or some weirdly placed timer maybe 200ft from the finish line. Whoops. This felt like the longest .97 miles of my life. At the mile marker, I was starting to feel heat throbbing in my face, and I knew that I was probably pushing as hard as I could (should?), and that it wasn’t quite as hard as I would have liked. I also missed the final water station, as it was a little under-manned, and the one volunteer had passed out his waters to the runners in front of me.
With about 1/2 a mile left, the course took us PAST the finish line and forced us to U-Turn into the final 1/4mi. 1) There’s nothing quite as soul-crushing as running AWAY from the finish line that close to the end of a race; 2) I hate turns. With a violent passion; and 3) the finishing chute was shared by the 5k-ers. At this point in the race, those finishing the 5k were running about a 10min/mi pace. I felt like I had U-turned into one of those glue-covered mouse traps as I dodged other runners. I left what I had in that last .25, and crossed the finish line with a weird half-glazed smile. I knew I had PR’d, but I also kind of knew that I hadn’t quite hit my goal.
As I crossed the finish line, I hit my watch to log the final lap, and thought I stopped the timer. I did NOT stop the timer. Therefore, I had no clue what my final time was until the results were posted.
I had joked with Jenny that there was a 35% chance of vomit at the finish line, but this was honestly the closest I’ve come to passing out after a race. I fumbled with a banana and a water, and took a few nibbles from the world’s driest bagel as I tried to collect myself. After a few minutes (and some food/water), the color started to return to my face, and I felt a lot better.
The post-race environment was really nice, and I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that it was 8p.m. instead of 8a.m. Every race participant got a beer ticket, so we all grabbed our gratis Michelob Ultra and took selfies like champions.
Some noteworthy items:
- Jenny PR’d the crap out of her 5k, knocking off 33 seconds.
- Chanthana dominated her first race in a new AG, coming in 4th. NO BIG DEAL.
- Manny knocked out some serious speed in his first solo 5k AND we shared our first side-five post-race.
- Britt came in 2nd overall female, 1st overall badass.
- The course was ok (pretty crowded at times, which may have been alleviated had I started at um you know on time), but I don’t know why I keep thinking the proximity of races in Lincoln Park is preferable to the faster courses of races NOT in Lincoln Park. That being said, the environment and race atmosphere was a lot of fun, and I’d probably do this race again.
- I got some weird looks/cheers for my compression socks. Sometimes I forget that they aren’t as normal as I believe them to be…
- I chased that race with falafel, which is really now the only way I think races should end.
Lastly, Coach had some “to do’s” for me post-race: