Thursday, June 11, 2009

Flag Day and its 5K

So, I’ve had much better races than the Flag Day 5K I just ran, but it was all worthwhile because I did get to cheer on E-Speed and Salty to their incredible sub-19 races (typically I just hear about these ladies kicking butt; today I saw them kicking in action)!

Talk about a junky (and not at all smart) lead-up week, though: first five-days-straight running in at least a month left me more ragged and worn than expected, while other life/work stuff beat me up in the head. I guess it happens.

My guess is the extra cycling, aerobics and pilates might have added insult to preventing injury, but my mood weighed the most today. At least the weather cooperated.

Enough crabbing, here’s how it went down: I hitched a ride with E-Speed and made it to Deep Woods with enough time to register, stretch, warm-up and mosey around before the start. My warm-up felt plain poopy, so I trotted a half-mile out and back, prodded my calf to loosen and waited at the start, where I wish the chicas good racing, and used a pin to scratch off the misspelling of my last name on my racing bib.

Cue the anthem, runners set and go.

Obviously, I don’t start toeing the line. But these no-chip races make me anxious about the precious seconds added to my time—I realize I’m not breaking records, but I have my pride at stake! (What’s left of it on a day like today, anyway.)

Lucky for me that negative attitude subsided, even while feeling pretty sluggish, as I tried to take advantage of the first downhill. I rooted on E and Salty around the first hairpin turn, ran behind a slow-moving, exhaust-spewing truck, tried to flee a guy who grunted like he was dying a painful death every 15-20 seconds and was happy to cross mile 1at 6:45.

If only that feeling (and downhills) had lasted.

Well, I momentarily escaped the grunter, despite slowing way down in mile 2. My cardio still felt great—the cycling intervals, in particular, are working wonders—but my legs just weren’t with it. I slowly trotted the water stop (just before tripping over a sewer), downed too much water and picked up a stitch before crossing mile 2 at 14:57 (8:12 split).

Note: by the time I crossed mile 2, the winner was already finished.

Just before heading up some final hills (man, was I pokey up those hills!), I walked for 15-20 seconds to try working out the stitch. While I wasn’t cool with walking in a 3.1-mile race, I was even less cool with the cramp. It didn’t totally subside until after the race; I’ll have to learn to work stitches out on the run in the future.

Slugging up the “final” hill, Mr. Grunter came hurling his agony back in earshot. I knew I shouldn’t have wimped out and slowed down! I let him pass me in the woods, but never separated enough to stop hearing him yelp as if he’d been shot every 20 seconds.


Faked out by a subtle downhill and cheering from what turned out to be a softball game and not the finish line, I sped up a while before exiting the woods. It’s strange the way 3.1 miles feels like such a long haul when you’re running a bad day!

When we actually emerged from the woods, I could see two things: 1) big red numbers ticking down the straightaway at the finish line and 2) mad Mr. Grunter hoofing down the last hill.

As the clock ticked toward 24, I looked through my bag of tricks to see what I had left: Speed? No, I dropped that last week. Endurance? So seven weeks ago. Spite? Ha! An abundance!

I didn’t go into today’s race with a real goal, but I knew I’d regret not outrunning Sir Gruntsalot for giving agony such a bad name. My closing speed isn’t much to write home about right now, but I was able to hoof it down the final stretch, pass Gruntasaurus Rex and finish the last 1.1 miles in 9:01 (8:13 split for the mile, :48 for the 0.1).

My watch time, which accounts for the starting delay, was 23:58 (7:42/mile).

The official time, with added start gap, probably puts me over 24, so this is my time, and I’m sticking to it!

It wasn’t a good race for me (albeit a 5K PR—a perk of having run only one other 5K!), and it didn’t leave me feeling great about much, but the post-race spoils were super, as was the post-race pie with E and David and the opportunity to cheer for the girls.

Now I just have to get back to rest and recovery. I’ve felt pretty creakedy the past couple days, and it’s high time I get back to training like a good girl and trying to make it to Akron sans injury.


Mnowac said...

Nice job Gina! Sounds like a good time to me, sorry you didn't feel your best.

E-Speed said...

You are too funny. You did great, and it is very hard to race when you are mentally exhausted. I purposely picked mindless tasks to do yesterday at work because I knew if I had a day like Monday or Tuesday I would be toast before I even started.

Your cheers and company were much appreciated!

ramblings of a runnner said...

sometimes beating the grunter or the weezer or the heavy footed guy is more important than anything. And that finish time is definately still respectable... if you did a sub 24 feeling as bad as you did - imagine what you could do on a good day! great job.