I did it!

Nov. 22nd, 2011 12:26 pm
macdobhran: Whoop Ass (Running shoe)
[personal profile] macdobhran
As most of you who follow me on Twitter, and really why wouldn't you follow me, already know I finished my first 5k race this past Saturday. My only stated goal was to finish, which I did, however I did have a private goal in my head to finish in under an hour, which I didn't. But I'm okay with that and I'll explain why in a little bit. If you scroll all the way to the bottom of the Men's times you can see that I finished in 1:04:59 (chip time)--dead last of all the men. I came in just ahead of a group of 5 women that walked the whole thing.

As I indicated in some previous posts my training fell off for the last couple of months due to illnesses, injuries, and honestly my own innate laziness. I've found that I actually enjoy running in the heat (who knew?!) and when the weather cooled down below 60°F I sort of lost the desire to get out there. Now that I know this I'm going to have to be extra vigilant about putting in the work.

So bright and early on Saturday morning I got up in order to run through a Power90 workout to get myself warmed up since the temperatures were going to be around 30°F during the race. I knew I wasn't as fit or prepared as I wanted to be so I wanted to minimize the possibility of injury as much as possible.

Oh, did I mention that I've been sick/coughing for a week prior to this? So yeah, I had that going for me too. And honestly I did consider calling it off but I had told so many people and it was my first ever race so I kind of caved in to my own internal peer pressure. That was the stupidest thing I did all day week because I spent the next two days trying to evacuate my lungs from my body.

After getting [livejournal.com profile] cellymcfae and TheLad into the car, and running back inside twice for things I forgot, we headed over to Leesburg's Ida Lee Park for the 9th Annual Freeze Your Gizzard 5k. We arrived about 10 minutes before they were supposed to stop check-in and 40 minutes before the start of the race. Check-in was easy, just look up your name on the alphabetized list, find out your bib number, and then get in the appropriate line to actually get your bib and timing chip. We also got a long-sleeved shirt which they didn't have in my size, natch.

Once I had that stuff and I had pinned on my number (#492 in case you're wondering) we went down the hill to where everyone seemed to be congregating for the start. Some people were jumping up and down, some where jogging down the field and back, but most were just standing around in the chilly air chatting. I decided now would be a good time to visit the privys rather than stand around looking nervous.

Soon enough I noticed everyone lining up behind the start line so I wandered on over and placed myself somewhere in the back of the pack. I couldn't hear if anything was said up front but I did hear the starter's gun (which was surprisingly quieter than I thought it would be) and then I just tried not to bump into anyone or step on anyone's heel as the crowd surged forward. It didn't seem like it but apparently there were over 700 people in the race.

I also want to note here that at the time I signed up for this race I didn't realize it was going to be cross country (map here). Actually I didn't notice that until about two days before the race. This kind of concerned me because all my training has been done on asphalt. I've never even run on a treadmill before much less uneven ground wet with frost and dew.

Anyway, I started out with a slow jog because everything I've read about races warns against starting out too fast and burning out. I was surprised that my natural inclination was to want to keep up with everyone else but I forced myself to slow down. We started out across a field (about 74 yards) and then ran along a fence line before taking a hard left and running to the edge of some woods. This was probably about the half mile mark and where I first started walking.

My strategy was to walk up all hills and run down hill and on the flats. Well, my constant coughing and lack of recent training forced me to walk a lot more than I run. So when I did run I tried to push it as hard as I could because my walking pace is somewhere between a slow amble and standing still.

The longest part of the race for me was between the halfway mark and mile 2. Even though that was the one part of the course that included a paved bike path, most of which I did run, it is also the part that curves back on itself so it seemed hard to judge distance and progress. After the 2-mile mark the course merges back on itself and things looked familiar so I had a pretty good idea where I was. By this point though everything in my legs was screaming at me to stop and have a little lie down, but I pressed on. I knew I was going to be one of the last people in based on how many walkers had passed me. I kept sneaking peeks behind me and saw the volunteers pulling the course flags out of the ground so I tried to pick up the pace a little. Plus I notice there was only one group of walkers left behind me, chatting away and laughing. I was starting to hate them.

Finally, I make it back to the long stretch of open field just before the finish line. I see a lot of people milling about just like before the race. At this point I'm stumbling along like a drunken sailor. I've almost gone down a few times because my feet don't feel like they belong to me anymore and they're not responding to my commands. I really wanted to at least jog across the finish but I just couldn't.

As I got closer to the finish, I just wanted to A) cross it and B) do so unnoticed. However, as I passed behind a group of people they started applauding. Then more people started applauding. It took me a minute to realize that they were applauding for me though. I tried to smile and acknowledge them but I think it came across as a grimace.

I see and hear [livejournal.com profile] cellymcfae and TheLad cheer for me as I cross the finish but all I can think of is stopping. I walk the 10 feet to the bucket where they're collecting the timing chips and my body is shaking so bad it's all I can do to untie my shoe to get the thing off. Then I finally stumble over a few feet into the grass and collapse. After about 10 minutes I realize that I still haven't turned off Runkeeper. So I do that and send the info out into the web even though the time is wrong. I don't know how long I sat there but they had almost taken down all the gates and signs by the time I am able to get up and head for the car.

The rest of the day I spend either napping or coughing horribly or both. [livejournal.com profile] cellymcfae was ready to drag me to a Doc-In-The-Box or the ER because she thought I had pneumonia. I knew I didn't have pneumonia or bronchitis (even though I whined for 2 days that I was going to die) and that I had just pushed my lungs farther than I should have. Today, however, I feel fine and have hardly coughed at all. Although my lower legs still hurt I can mostly walk normally.

So, did I meet my goals? Yes, I finished, I had fun, and even though I didn't finish in under an hour I feel like if I hadn't been sick or if this had been a road race I would have.

Am I going to do another race? Hell's yeah! Now that I sort of know what to expect I'll know better how to prepare for it though I definitely won't try it again while I'm sick.

By the way, pictures can be found here.

Keep slugging along, my friends.
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