The Earth Day 5K was the last race in the Pacers Hills Are Mean Spring Fast Pass series that the poet signed me up for as a Christmas present. I've been out on 2-3 more slow and easy runs this week, and after chatting with another recovering-from-injury friend, Amy, we decided we'd jog it together and grab brunch afterwards.
When I woke up, the temps were great for a morning 5K - cool and breezy. I got up to Silver Spring with just enough time to pin on my bib and find Amy. We lined up in the shadow of the building and shivered until the horn went and we were off. This is another incredibly cruel race put on by Pacers, with a long downhill heading out the first mile that translates to a long uphill on the way back. The race was pretty small, and after dodging some people in the first 5 minutes, we were free to yak, mostly about our injuries, recovery, and the orthopedic hero of this story, Dr. Pereles. It's an odd experience for me, being able to talk during a 5K, but I like it. We cheered on the front of the pack as they zoomed past us going the other way and Amy waved and high-fived a lot of spectators.
We passed the 2-mile marker and started to prepare ourselves for the long uphill, but Amy's super fast husband was kind enough to meet us as the bottom and chat to us as we coughed and wheezed up the hill. I found a new mantra I like last week, and I tried to choke it out to Amy as we struggled, but I'm sure it sounded more like elephant grunting. When we hit the 3-mile marker I tried desperately to sprint my way up the hill to the finish line, stopping only to mug for the photographer just before it. I forgot to stop my watch right at the finish, but my official time was 27:45. Splits roughly: 8:59/9:12/8:50/0:43 (.1).
Dear Pacers, can we get a flat race?
Amy and I spent some time patting each other on the back and being excited about our race over coffee afterwards. While I hate that either of us are injured, it's nice to have a friend to get pumped over small milestones with (Amy's brand-new ACL set a course record for ACL's yesterday!).
Overall, I'm really pleased with this whole experience. After a long talk with my PT on Thursday, I've stopped thinking so much about what's going on in my midsection while I run, and it seems to have unlocked me a bit. Thursday night's run was more comfortable than I've been, and while I had some twinges on Friday's long ride any time I got out of the saddle, icing, my PT exercises and stretching seems to be taking care of it. This run was the best one yet, with almost no pulling in my rear end or SI pain. I'm still not healed or recovered, but this felt like another strong step forward. Last July, I set a 5K PR of 27:35 (side note: this is not my current PR), and I fought that entire race for it. On Saturday, until the last hill, this felt like a moderate effort - a bit tougher than a recovery run, but we were still able to chat easily. I'm hoping it means that I've retained a lot of my running fitness, which translates into hoping that I'll bounce back into racing shape a little more quickly than it took me to build my running fitness from surgery this past winter.
And the race was one of the better local 5Ks I've done. It was a small race, so less insanity before, during, and after. The course was well-marked and there were a lot of volunteers, and the finish line was stocked with lots of delicious goodies. I was able to park easily within 50 feet of the start/finish line, and by the time we had coffee, everything had been torn down and most people were gone, so no crazy post-race traffic. This is one I'll definitely do again!
How was your weekend? Did you race?