Saturday, February 21, 2009

Al Gordon Snowflake 5K Race Report

First things first . . . a miracle occurred last night, y'all, in that I actually slept! That never happens. And, when I say never, I mean NEVER. I always get so excited about racing that I never get a good night's sleep no matter how long or short the race is the next morning. But luckily (I guess?), I worked later than planned last night. I got home around 10 p.m. and scarfed down some dinner. After doing some blog-reading and unwinding a bit, I looked up at the clock and realized it was already 12 a.m.!! Oops . . . Y'all are just so darn entertaining--I completely lost track of time! We immediately headed to bed and set the alarm clock for 6:45 a.m.

Ring ring ring! I was SO tired by the time I went to bed that I slept pretty soundly until the alarm went off. But with that being said, I still was NOT ready to get up. "Wilson, can you hit snooze?" I begged. He hit snooze. Ring ring ring! "Okay, last snooze," I pleaded. He hit snooze . . . or so I thought. All of a sudden I woke up on my own and looked up at the clock. FREAKING 7:25?! How the hell did that happen?! We were supposed to be leaving for the race at 7:30!! I screamed at Wilson to get up and get ready . . . QUICKLY! Apparently he had thought that I had meant for him to turn the alarm clock OFF because I wanted to ditch the race and sleep in! WRONG-O!

We threw our running clothes on and were out the door by 7:45 a.m. We rushed to the subway, but not before I grabbed a random year-old luna bar to scarf down. As we were rushing through the streets of Brooklyn, I attempted to multi-task and eat the luna bar . . . that is until I realized it was a REALLY strange color. "Um . . . maybe I shouldn't be eating this. It's a different color than it used to be, " I thought out loud. I ditched the second half of the bar and focused my attention on getting to the subway as quickly as possible. Somehow, we got there just as our train was pulling in--talk about lucky! We hopped on the F-train and soon thereafter arrived at Prospect Park. We checked the clock: 8:05 a.m. Not bad. But also, not good . . .

Since we hadn't had time to pick up our race packets earlier in the week, we had to stop at a school near the park and pick our stuff up. Um . . . holy nightmare, batman! That place was PACKED, and everyone was pushing, shoving and cutting the lines! LAME! We grabbed our packets and tees and rushed out of that madhouse as quickly as was humanly possible. We stepped outside, pinned our bibs on, stuck our chips on and took off back towards the park. Again, trying to multi-task, I attempted to pin my bag-check tag onto my bag while we were walking. But as I did, I apparently dropped one of my gloves . . . ugh! We had to back-track almost all the way back to the school before we finally found it. I was just happy we found it! I would have had one cold hand, had I not! It was in the mid-twenties with a pretty strong wind adding to the early-morning chill.

We finally arrived at bag-check, only to realize the volunteers were screaming at the runners to get to the corrals quickly, as they were going to be collapsing them soon. We shed our sweats, dropped our bags and rushed over to the corrals. We took our place, checked our watches . . . it was 8:40 a.m. Whew! Thus started the longest 20 minutes of my life. It was SO cold just standing there, waiting for the gun to go off. After what seemed like 12 days, they finally started the pre-race announcements and sang the national anthem. I felt good. Cold . . . but good.

And we were off! Right after the start, we faced a decent uphill for a little under a half-mile. I can't tell you how many times I have dueled with that silly hill . . . too many to count! I felt a surge of adrenaline and quickly started my way up the hill. I was passing people left and right. Granted, part of the reason I was passing everyone was because the corrals hadn't been enforced very well and there were a TON of slower runners up in front of me; but still, it felt good to be passing so many people on a climb that had kicked my ass on countless occasions! We crested the hill and picked up the pace a little bit for the remainder of the first mile. Finally, we arrived at mile-1 and Wilson checked his garmin . . . "7:50," he reported. "Not bad," I thought to myself.

We tried to pick it up a bit during the second mile, considering it was mostly downhill. Wilson really pushed me and kept sneaking ahead, trying to get me to catch up to him. I really felt like I was pushing the pace at this point. We were still passing people every once in a while, but I was also starting to feel the effects of having taken that first uphill so quickly. I knew I'd probably end up running out of gas, but just prayed I could hold on until I reached the finish. We kept running around the main loop of the park--an area I know like the back of my hand--until we reached mile-2. Wilson didn't tell me the split (and I didn't want to take the time to check), but I knew it had been a quick mile. It turns out we'd run it in a blistering 7:42.

Right after mile-2, we reached the turn-off from the main loop onto Wellhouse Drive, an area of the park I had somehow never explored in all the time I'd spent in the park! Little did I know that Wellhouse Drive had it's own killer uphill section. Wilson told me that we were on pace to finish in under 24-minutes and I got pretty excited. But at the same time, I knew I was REALLY starting to struggle. I tried to convince myself to hold the quick pace by telling myself that we were getting close to the finish. I pushed for as long as I could . . . but my legs were QUICKLY dying. Around about the 2.6-mile point, Wilson told me we had a half mile to go, and asked me if I was going to have a big kick left. I muttered no, and he kind of teased me and told me, "Yes you will! Come on! You know you have a big kick left!" I was livid. I screamed some pretty dirty obscenities at him. Sorry about that, race neighbors!

I somehow kept going, but I was SERIOUSLY slowing down. Ha, I was actually getting some crazy urges to walk, which was completely ridiculous considering the fact that we had just a quarter-mile to go. I told myself I just needed to keep digging, and moving as quickly as I was able. We hit the 3-mile mark: we'd covered the third mile in 7:57. Chug . . . Chug . . . . . Chug . . . . . . . Despite the fact that I had just .1 to go, I was moving SO SLOWLY--and it didn't help that the last quarter-mile or so was uphill! I knew I had no kick left in me, but couldn't believe it when I saw that I had covered the last .1 at a slooooooow 8:28 pace! Um, how's that for an anti-kick?! Ha. I just had nothing left. I crossed the finish line, stopped my garmin and tried to glance at my finishing time. Sadly, though, I couldn't see what it was because I was unable to see straight! I was feeling SO nauseous and light-headed; I just wanted to get out of the finishers' area as quickly as possible! Wilson grabbed me some water, a bagel and an apple. I was swaying all over the place . . . it was crazy. I somehow made it over to get my chip cut off, and FINALLY, we got out of the crazy-crowded finishers' area.

We walked back towards baggage-check and I finally felt a little better and checked my garmin: 24:48. YEAH! I was pretty stoked, I have to say. I know I could have run a faster time, had I not gotten so darn excited about that first uphill. But you run, you learn, eh? I'm pretty happy with that time considering it was my first ever 5K . . . especially because I met my secret goal that I hadn't shared with y'all; a goal to run the race at a sub-8:00/mile pace. My official time, it turns out, was 24:47; for a 7:59 overall pace. How's that for cutting it close? :) Ohh, and in terms of how I compared to others? I finished 78th in my age group out of 604 runners; 243rd place out of 1945 for my gender; and 1207 of 3987 overall. Hells yeah! Not bad at all :)

Now, I'm kinda-sorta thinking I might tackle yet another NYRR 5K race taking place a week from tomorrow. I haven't decided for sure yet, but I might just do it. I know Wilson will be running the race, since he ran much slower than he was capable of this morning in order to help pace me (thanks, Wilson!). And I know Lam is running the race next Sunday as well. So maybe I'll have to give it another shot . . . hmm, we shall see :)


The Laminator said...

Ahhh see, I probably would have felt like you did if I had run the race today and would've bailed on the 10 miler and maybe even the 5K next weekend.

After reading your race report, I'm kinda intimidated...I have to do all those hills 3 times...omigosh!

Anyway, you did great, Irish! Very happy that you met your secret goal. And you should totally come out for the 5K next weekend...I know there's no secret hills there so you'll definitely do much better. Maybe we'll even met up and say hi!

Meanwhile, I better fuel and hydrate like crazy and rethink my race strategy after reading your report. I'm going to hate hills after tomorrow.

Stay tuned.

Laura said...

Congrats on a really awesome and fast race! I definitely think you should do the 5K next weekend too and see if you can push it even more... you really rocked it today.

The Alien said...

Ok, I know it was your first time at the distance and even if you walked you were going to PR... but Congratulations on THAT PR!! Awesome time!!

Great RR, I enjoyed reading it!