Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Cherry Days 5K Race Report

As per usual, I'm now four days late getting Saturday's race report to the bloggeroni. As long as it's there before the next race, I'm doing okay, right?

We had a possibility of not making this race in Paonia (90 minutes away) at all due to a new earlier start this year and conflicting time listings in various publications, but luckily figured out ahead of time about the time change. My middle daughter and I caught a very early ride with our neighborhood running friends Carl and Jo Ann, and headed out for the scenic drive to Paonia. It's a small, funky, cute mountain town, and was offering one of multiple July 4th races in the region, though surprisingly we still do not have one locally even though we're the biggest city in the region. My husband was going to head out about an hour after us with the other three kids to watch the race, giving them a chance to sleep in a bit.

My middle daughter was planning to jog/walk this race and was going to hang with Jo Ann, who was also planning to run some/walk some, and then I was going to double back to cover the second half or so with her. After last week's 5K, and not ever making up time on the first two girls, I decided that I was going to go out aggressively and hang on as long as possible. I used to think I started 5K's at a good pace for me, but the fact of the matter is that I never catch people who go off to an early lead in shorter distance stuff (yeah, light bulb moment) and that it was time to throw caution to the wind a bit. Based on Carl's description of this course, it sounded similar to the course where I ran my 5K PR where there were a couple of good hill climbs, but a couple of good long downhills to balance out those climbs. I think those rolling courses are my strongest suit, so why not choose this for a start with no holding back?

After a very small amount of warm up jogging and a strideout or two, I just relaxed and hung out with my daughter and the other runners until we lined up to start. A few minutes after 8, we were off, and I took off following the small lead pack of men, and one woman up ahead. I could also hear some teenaged voices chattering away right behind me, and worked to get away and get some distance between us.

Somewhere shy of half a mile, I overtook the lead woman and worked to gain more momentum so there wouldn't be that moment like I had in the last 5K where the competition says "uh, no, sorry!" and immediately drops me. I wound through the residential area in this small, pretty mountain town and was enjoying being out there.

Mile 1: 6:58

Did I mention the hills? Oh yeah. Somewhere around this point (I don't know if it was just before the end of that first mile or a little after) there was a decent climb. There were two guys who started way ahead of me that I made up ground on, and then flew past as I did the downhill. Ironically, my work on downhill trails seemed to help here on the flat road-just the whole lifting the knees and springing lightly (not braking or overstriding) worked well.

We continued on ahead to a stretch of open road. What's funny is that the race director told us it was an out and back-Carl and Jo Ann told me it was an out-and-back...yet somehow my brain went out to lunch and I forgot this detail. I saw some guy who appeared to be running back and got confused for a moment and then thought to myself "oh yeah."

I know some people hate and avoid out-and-back courses but I like the mental boost of knowing it's half over. I turned the corner and started heading back, and that's when I could see the small high school girl who was not more than about ten seconds back from me. I didn't know what kind of final kick I might have but kept cranking away and didn't even look at my watch when I heard the second mile beep from the Garmin. Checking it after the race, I had

Mile 2: 7:05

This is the mile that brought an "oops" on my part and the fun and excitement of a close finish. First, the oops. I took one of the corners (I think onto the main street) pretty tightly, and there was an American flag waving from the corner. I thought I was going to just miss it but the breeze caught it just right, and my head and the flag met, and off went my hat. You've heard of wrapping one's self in the American flag? Well, I unintentionally did it for real.

I turned around to grab my hat, and guess who scooped it up and handed it to me? Yep, that high school girl, who had to have been just a few feet behind me. I thanked her twice-I would never expect another runner to grab junk I dropped, especially when we were running so close together like that. That said-this is a reason I like running. There's usually a nice sense of camaraderie out there.

We both came down the Main Street where people were lined up to watch the parade and bed races, and I think we were pretty much neck and neck through here. She picks it up and edges a little past me. I'm really tired but try to disconnect the mind from the body, and keep going hard without a letup. There's a bit of a gentle uphill toward the turn back into the park where the start/finish is located.

Mile 3: 7:25

Coming up that hill, I just gunned it with all I had left and had in my head that I was going to fight to catch her. I was making up ground on her and thought I might be able to pull it out....I heard someone yell "Come on! SPRINT!" to her at the final corner.

Last .1 (I think Garmin measured it just shy): 6:14 pace, :25 seconds.

Final time, 21:53. Second best 5K ever (missed a PR by :13), and good for second place overall (actually, first place 30-39 women because they did single overall winners, then three-deep ten year age groups), just a couple of seconds off the winner who took it to a pace around that last final corner that I could not beat today. Still, it was loads off fun (did I just say "fun" about a 5K?) and I think that maybe I'm on to something with forgetting my old ideas about saving something for the end. By pushing more from the beginning, I was further up the road by the time that 5K extreme fatigue set in.

I doubled back for my daughter, and found out that she, Jo Ann and a pack of other runners had taken a wrong turn earlier. After that, the three of us went along for a bit, and then I went with my daughter, alternating brisk walking and jogging. Not sure of her finish time and there was not an official 12 and under age group, but they did give a medal to her, as well as the other two children who finished the 5K, which was nice.

They also had a ton of extra shirts, so we scored some extras when the race director quite seriously said after awards "anyone want to grab some of these?" All in all, it was not a bad way to spend the morning without turning it into an all day, exhausting deal for the kiddos.

Now, my Lazy (Wo)Man's Speed Work Tour continues with yet another 5K this Saturday. I have to say that I've been enjoying not doing speed work during the week, and just double-dipping with the short distance races. It'll be a downhill race starting near the east gate to the Colorado National Monument, just about three minutes from my house.

I also don't think I've mentioned it on the blog, but I am now registered for my fall marathon, the inaugural Rim Rock Marathon. For many years, the Rim Rock Run was a 22.6 gate-to-gate race across the Colorado National Monument. Although some old-timer runners have grumbled about the conversion to marathon distance, I think it's a good thing, logistically speaking, allowing for two miles of flat road to warm up instead of immediately climbing from the east gate as in the past, and now ending in the James M Robb State Park.

It also used to end at the west gate with traffic whizzing by, and this will just be a lot more spectator friendly, and make for a better place for racers to hang post-race. It is definitely NOT any kind of BQ course (nor do I think it's even certified yet) but it doesn't matter...this is my "fun" marathon for the fall where there is no pressure to perform to a predetermined standard. I'm also excited that Girls on the Run is going to be one of the primary beneficiaries of any race profits, as I start my third year with the SoleMates (formerly Team Tiara), the fundraising program for GOTR. I'll just do my best and enjoy the views.


L.A. Runner said...

Awesome race report! You tactic of "start fast and hold on" is one that I do w/o intention. LOL. Great job on such a fast race and good luck next week!

HEATHER said...

congrats to you and your daughter! Great 5k time!

Oz Runner said...

awesome job on the are in 5K mode lately, aren't you?

Preston said...

Great race report!