I remembered Thursday evening that Amy had mentioned a 5 miler on Saturday up in Maryland. Registration is ONLY available on-site, so I figured that if I was feeling good by that morning, we'd go up and I'd race. I've never run a 5 miler before, and I've only run the 8K once (with a giant hangover), so I knew that no matter how the race turned out, it would be a PR. I decided fairly ambiguously that I could probably come in somewhere around the 42-43 minute area without a lot of effort. I spent Friday night discussing race strategy with my friends.
The website warned that parking was scarce and to get there early, so we did. As it turned out, they were just trying to terrify everyone into doing exactly that, so I had time to visit the porta-potty 12 times and read my Harry Potter book before the race started. I spent an equal amount of time stressing about what to wear and then it was time to go.
I lined up with Amy but lost her in the first shuffle of people. Assuming she was ahead of me, I ducked and weaved trying to find her...only to have her come up behind me about a mile in. After running the first 10 steps over the line, I realized that my body was still pretty tired and mentally readjusted my goal to 45:00 - 9 minute/miles is slightly more difficult than easy but definitely not race pace. By the time Amy caught up with me, I was considering re-readjusting my goal to include walking and/or making someone pick me up and drive me back. The course was far hillier than I would have expected for Maryland...
I decided, as I usually do in races, to manually lap my watch at the mile markers. The first mile marker, though, came up REALLY early - there was just no way that I went out with an 8:15, even with some of those downhills. The second mile seemed true and the third mile was as long as the first mile was short, so I didn't really have a good idea on my pace. I just tried to maintain my effort level up and down all the rollers and not get passed by too many people dressed like turkeys. The mile 4 marker is right before the last large hill, so any idea about kicking into the finish was gone. When I rounded the corner and saw how close the line was, I realized that I could probably squeak in under 45 minutes, and that's what I did.
Unfortunately, I wasn't careful about starting or stopping my Garmin properly because we had shoe chips, but as it turned out, they forgot to lay down the mats at the start so only gun time was recorded. However, as an experienced professional spectator who needs to know when to be ready for picture-taking, the poet recorded my official time.As for the rest of the race, there was one well-manned water stop that you hit twice - roughly mile 2.3 and mile 3.9 - although I avoided it both times. The post-race spread was amazing, especially for a race that was this inexpensive ($10), and the volunteers were fantastic.
It's definitely a great race to burn off all that turkey and pie, especially if you choose the 2-loop 10 mile option, but not a PR course due to the elevation. Hills are rude, especially when it's the first time you've run since you blew a hole in a half marathon.
However, it was a gorgeous day, I got to run with my partner in oft-injured-Dr. P-stalking crime, and I was able to shake off the race itch. The last two races have really made me realize that I have a long way still left to go in fixing my form, as it collapsed pretty early in both. I'm actually excited to return to a training schedule that has lots of easy running in it so I can keep chipping away at my injury-free life. But this week will still go down in history as the "I PRd twice in one week" week, but hopefully also the "I set 2 PRs that should be incredibly easy to beat" week.
How was your Thanksgiving, friends? Did you trot with turkeys or just eat your weight in pie?