A Guns and Hoses 5K Race Report
The Year 2011 is still in its infancy, and already, it is a year for the record books. The Cleveland Cavaliers broke the record for the longest losing streak in NBA history. The Caltech basketball teams snaps a 310(!) game conference losing streak. ANNNNDDD… Your humble servant finally manages to PR :-) A year for the record books, indeed.
The honest to God truth is… you want the truth don’t you? Can ya handle it? When the alarm clock went off at 6:20 AM, I didn’t want to get out of bed. What was I thinking? I needed a mental re-evaluation. I haven’t slept in for ages. It was cold outside. The bed was warm. But. I really needed to test my fitness. I really needed to see where I am on this journey. I deserved my cake.
So, I got out of bed. All of my fitness clothes were dirty. I found a long sleeve tech t-shirt and my orange Mizuno running shorts and slipped those on. I threw on a super warm and comfortable Mizuno running jacket and headed downstairs. I decided to eat just enough Apple Jacks to hold me over until after the race. I did not want a full stomach on his run!
Dee Dee and I hopped in the car and drove the 1.2 miles to the park. A lot of people had already arrived. We went and picked up our packets. I failed to register for the race early by one day. They were all out of our t-shirt sizes. Dee Dee grabbed an XL, and I opted not to take a t-shirt at all. My drawers are full of race shirts! LOL… We went back to the car to keep warm. It was 40 degrees out, a little cold to be sitting still, but I suspected it would be fine for the race. We watched Dee Dee’s friends from work arrive.
About twenty minutes before the race start we got out of the car. Our friend, Christina, had come to do the race as well. She’s a sub-20 5Ker on a good day. With fifteen minutes to go, I left Dee Dee to chat with her friends and did a warm up run around the park. My legs were still feeling a little sore, but I was confident that they would carry me through the day. Dee Dee was still chatting when I got back. After several minutes, I noticed the crowd coming out of the park to stand behind us. I didn’t realize it, but we were standing at the starting line. I was even more chagrined when I found out I was at the front of the line. I moved back 2-3 rows of people to a place that was more comfortable for me.
The bearded hunting cap wearing starter guy made his way through the crowd to the front of the line. He told us he was going to say: on your mark, set, go, but don’t go, he quickly added. Then, 2 seconds later, he set us off.
Before the race, I had set the Virtual Partner on the Garmin 310XT to a 7:45 per mile pace. As the crowd surged, I hit start and took off with them. I saw Christina up ahead, and I toyed with the idea of racing out in front of her, and laughing, but given her pace, I decided it was probably a bad idea. It was slightly uphill to the end of the parking lot where we made a u-turn and headed back down the parking lot and out into the street. At this point, my lungs started to burn.
This is what it means to feel alive…
The endorphins were kicking in early, aided, no doubt, by the mostly downhill first mile. I knew the last mile, coming back, was going to be tough, and I had decided to bank some minutes. At the bottom of the hill, we made a left onto the parkway that leads into my neighborhood. Shortly after that, we hit the first mile marker. A glance at my Garmin indicated I was 45 seconds ahead of pace.
Good, I thought to myself. Let’s hang on to that for dear life…
The Garmin buzzed about fifty yards on the other side of the mile marker. A short distance later, we made a right turn into the water treatment plant. The entire second mile is mostly flat. I was pleased to see my “banked” time holding steady, even improving a little bit. The lead runner came by, followed by other runners, including Christina. She yelled something at me, but I was really focused on grinding this one out. I made the turn around and picked the pace back up. I knew the hard work was still ahead.
We made a left out of the treatment plant back onto the parkway. There was a little dip there that set the tone for the last mile. On the far side of the dip sat the second mile marker. My Garmin buzzed right on target, and I was still 40+ seconds ahead of pace. At the end of my subdivision we turned right and headed up hill back to the park. I shortened my steps and increased my turn over. I managed to pass a couple of runners here. The further along we got, the steeper the hill. My heart rate started to climb. All I could think was to tell myself that this was OK. This is the only real hill, and the hard work would soon be over.
At the parking lot entrance, we turned right back into the park, then made another right onto the side walk that circles the baseball fields. I latch onto a young woman in front of me who is running at about my pace. I fail to gain on her, but she is not leaving me behind either. A hundred yards down the side walk, we are shunted off to the right onto an asphalt path. It takes us down a hill to the amphitheater, then back up the hill and back onto the sidewalk again. That short steep hill really got the heart rate pumping.
The track around the ball fields is just about half a mile long. I am exactly on the opposite side of the finishing line. I’ve run at this park dozens and dozens of times. I know there is slightly more than a quarter mile to go, and despite the small rise there, I pick up the pace. At the top of the circle, the Garmin buzzes, and I’m rewarded with my slowest mile of the race. I fully expected this, but now, it’s slightly downhill to the finish. I kick it in and begin to close the gap on my pace bunny. Through the fence, I can see the race clock. I get excited to see the number “23” in the minutes column. I start to sprint for the finish. I decide at the last minute not to race my pace bunny. I ease up as we enter the chute and finish right behind her.
The Garmin 310XT reads 23:49. This wasn’t a chipped race, so I’ll just go with what the Garmin says is my official time. I couldn’t have been more excited. Christina came over to check on my and give me a high five before taking off on her 3 mile cool down. Overachiever. I felt pretty confident that I had placed in my age group. Mine was the third card in the 40-49 year old box, although sometimes, people toss their cards in late. I went to the car and grabbed my jacket and waited by the finish line for Dee Dee to come in. She crossed the line at about the 40 minute mark, with a smile on her face.
At the awards ceremony, they announced that the “Guns” had won the competition for the first time in 5 years. They had 437 registered participants, raising over $2500.00 for local charities. Our little 5K is all growed up now. As for myself, I did place 3rd in my age group, and I haz bling to prove it. Even better than that, I PRed the 5K distance by one minute and twenty-one seconds, on a slightly harder course. The last time I PRed a 5K was in 2007.
Draught over :-)