This was an afternoon race in a scenic park area. The park is named after a picturesque pedestrian bridge. The race officials had us walk across the bridge where we would be starting and coming back across to the actual course. The timing mat was about 20 yards from the finish line, so we would run over the bridge then cross the timing mat. Being the genius and serious athlete that I am, I decided not to start running until I crossed the timing mat. Why waste the energy?
|The bridge and the finish...majority of the run was to the left...timing mat just out of sight!|
We stood around for a minute and the signature of this race company - a cannon blast, signaled the start and startled a majority of the runners as they did not mention it and it was not within our line of sight. I did start jogging a bit before the timing mat, but only due to peer pressure from people behind me/fear of getting trampled! I started my watch as I crossed the timing mat. The route was an out and back on a paved path winding next to the river. I was trying to stay toward the right in case others needed to pass me. Before we were even a quarter mile in, a woman came up with a gigantic double stroller on my left. I made plenty of space between us...I think runners with animals or strollers are annoying in races if you don't have the right tact/handling skills.
The path was winding and some runners trying to pass walkers were 3 or 4 across, taking up the whole path. As the stroller lady didn't announce her presence or intent and could not easily go around the pack, she simply said loudly "Excuse me!" to which the woman running in front of her slowed almost to a stop and turned around, causing stroller lady to run the front tire of the stroller up this poor woman's calf. It was weird and embarrassing to watch. The almost road kill woman looked shocked and just nodded at the apology stroller lady tossed her way. From that point on, stroller woman could be heard from a distance yelling "STROLLER ON YOUR LEFT!!!!!". I'm pretty sure my jaw was hanging open for a minute after that! It definitely reminded me of the time I stepped on the world's cutest puppy while on a run. A "did that really happen?" moment!
|Stroller woman in the second half of the race, for the visual you need for that story!|
I was enjoying the course, but running felt hard, as it often does for me. The course had some curves and dips that would pop right back up that kept it interesting, but trees are trees and I wanted to walk...I knew I wasn't running the whole way or even to mile 2. C'mon mile 1! I was thinking "um, I think I've been running for like 20 minutes, maybe I missed the mile marker". Cue 1/2 mile marker. Seriously??? Running is the worst! Ah, well, just remember that the first mile is always the hardest in a 5k. (Those are my running mantras! haha. I routinely think/say "Uuuuuugh! Running is the worst!" But then it gets better. Especially in triathlons when the "Brick" feeling wears off")
My watch ($5 sports watch from CVS! but I have ordered a Bia watch for all my training/racing needs) said 11:38 at the mile marker. Ummm....wasn't that my time at one of the mile races this summer? Felt like I took it out too fast! So I walked for a minute and arrived at the water station where I noticed my shoe was untied, so I drank my water and stopped for that. Around this time, the photographer caught a rather unfortunate shot of me! See below! I started to see my speedy friends coming back on the course, which had opened up so I could see the turn around in the distance. I started running again and kept an eye out for anyone I knew for high fives. And of course high fives for any race volunteers.
After the turn around, my mouth started getting filmy and I felt the need to spit. I did the best I could to get ready hock it to the side, but the wind was against me and I am very ungraceful, so it ended up in a dribble down my shirt. Put that on my list of things to practice for my next 5k! Luckily, I had just passed a group of people and the there didn't appear to be anyone around me. I was back at the water stop soon and walked while I had my water and thought of my strategy into the finish. I would only let myself walk once, so I had to make it count! My legs were burning and those small dips seemed a little bit bigger! I focused on catching up to the person in front of me and then to the next person, if possible.
I walked for a minute with half a mile left and I was alongside a woman who was running her first 5k after knee surgery! She said she wasn't fast, but she was getting it done - damn right you are getting it done! That was impressive. I could hear the finish and I kicked it in, and smiled a huge Cheshire cat grin while I passed my friends cheering for me. I crossed the finish line and hit my watch as it said 39:31. I tried walking immediately off the path to get out of the way and was pulled back to receive a medal and have my timing chip taken off. Ha, sometimes I miss the obvious. I grabbed some water, a cookie, and a banana and went to find my friends. With the small amount of class I possess, I announced to my group a Goonies-esque "HEY YOU GUYS!!! I THINK I JUST DID MY FIRST 5K UNDER 40 MINUTES". Which was met with much congratulations.
I didn't have long to hang out as #1 it was freezing and #2 I had to get cleaned up for a dinner downtown that involved me and $56 steak and I wasn't the one paying. Definite priority: food.
I checked the website for my official time that night, the next day, that night, etc. A couple of days later I thought to look and was scrolling down the 30s. 37....38...ooh...39...where is my name....oh...almost....there......why am I at 40....wait, what? 40:28 as my official time. Um...no!
When my small group convened the next week, others agreed that their times were slower than their watches had captured. The consensus was that it was a gun start and a chip finish. Which is the biggest load of crap in my book! Sooo....that means if I didn't walk at the start of the race I may have really, officially finished under 40 minutes? Ah, live and learn, Melissa! It was PR anyway!
Alright sub-40 - I'm coming for you next time!!! Oh, and the stroller lady? Just 1 spot ahead of me. Figures!