Saturday, March 19, 2011

Vern's No Frills 5K - #24 Race Report

A few weeks ago, I learned about a series of 5K races that takes place monthly in Georgetown, TX (about a 40-minute drive from where we live in Austin). The series is called Vern's No Frills 5K and takes place on the 3rd Saturday of each month. As the race name suggests, it is a "no frills" event (no awards, no shirts, no timing mats/chips, no clocks on course, etc.) . . . but hey, considering it only costs $1 for adults to run (students K-12 run free), I figured it was worth a shot!

After having stayed up WAY too late last night watching March Madness, Wilson and I woke up to the alarm blaring at 5:30 this morning. Ouch. It had certainly been quite some time since either of us had seen that hour! But I, for one, was definitely pretty giddy to be getting back to racing after a 6-month hiatus (9 months for Wilson!).

We sipped on our coffee and ate some plain grits, which seemed like an okay idea at the time; but soon I realized that my tummy was pretty darn unhappy with me. Meh. I've eaten grits as a pre-long run meal and have never had any problems; so I'm not sure if it was nerves or what. But let's just say that my gut was making some pretty crazy noises at me. I got dressed and took care of business, which made the tummy feel a little bit better (temporarily). Before I knew it, it was 6:45 and past time to hit the road!

Luckily, there was no traffic at all and we managed to arrive at the race site (Berry Springs Park & Preserve) ahead of schedule. Finding our way around was a piece of cake, as was parking and registration.* We had a good 25 minutes or so until go-time and my tummy was still a little pissy, so we hit the bathrooms (REAL bathrooms, yeah!!) then went for a quick warm up jog, including some strides. Not gonna lie, my legs were definitely all "WTF, chick?!" when I started the strides. I mean, it HAD been nearly six months since I'd done any speed training, so I wasn't at all surprised . . . but still, I started to get a little bit nervous.

Now, before I go any further, I should mention that I didn't really have a time goal going into this race. Having done nothing but easy runs since some time in early October, I knew a PR was almost definitely out of the question (current PR = 24:47). I think my biggest goal was just to get out there and leave everything I had on the course, so as to get as accurate a sense of my current running fitness as possible.

The start was casual. I wasn't sure where exactly the "start line" was, but I tried to line myself up in an appropriate area judging by the runners around me. When we were all lined up, the race director gave some last minute instructions and a description of the course; then made all of us raise our right hands and repeat, "I promise . . . to be safe". After wishing us good luck, the air-horn sounded and we were off!!

Right away, I realized I probably should have lined up closer to the front than I did . . . I was trapped behind a bunch of slower runners. I ended up going off the path and running around a number of them to get ahead. This seemed to be going well until I rolled my ankle a little on a divet in the grass. Ow. Luckily, by that point, I had gotten around enough people that the path seemed to open up for me. I glanced down at Gertie Garmin and was shocked to see that I was running at a 7:40 pace . . . oops! That was WAY faster than I should have been running, given the circumstances, but it really didn't feel that difficult. Still, I knew continuing at such a pace would likely lead to disaster somewhere down the road. I eased my pace a bit and decided to stick behind the tall dude in front of me. Soon, we hit the 1-mile marker, ran around a cone and headed back in the direction from which we'd just come.

Mile 1: 7:57

After we turned back around, we hit a quick uphill that wasn't particularly difficult; but as I crested the hill, I started to gasp for air. It was at this point that I really began to notice the humidity. Although it was only 64 degrees out, the 92%(!) humidity was making things a tad bit uncomfortable! On top of that, a nagging little ankle/achilles/calf injury I've been dealing with started to rear its ugly head, thanks to the pounding my legs were taking on the concrete path. I knew I had no choice but to pull back a bit more. As I watched my pace fade, negative thoughts crept into my mind; thoughts that would have, in the past, consumed me. "I'm so far off of a PR; what's the point?!" "My time is going to be SO humiliating!" "Wouldn't it be nice to just slow down and jog the rest of the race?" "Hell, maybe I should just drop out." I fought against the nasty voices in my head and pushed as hard as my body would allow. By this time, though, I was starting to fade . . .

Mile 2: 8:27

At some point in the previous mile, I'd noticed a small child--maybe 9 or 10 years old--who kept trading places with me. Now, at first, I thought this was adorable--I was just thrilled to see him out there racing and having a good time. But then, during the 3rd mile (as I began to struggle more and more), I started to get a little frustrated. The kid would sprint up ahead of me and run for a minute, only to sit down on one of the many park benches lining the course. There, he would wait for his dad (who was somewhere not too far behind me) to catch up with him. Then, of course, he would start running hard once his dad finally caught up to him . . . and pass me again. This went on for the remainder of the race. Looking back, I actually think it was pretty funny. I am positive I wouldn't have been so frustrated with it had I not been hurting so badly at that point. But, BOY, was I ever hurting. I looked down at Gertie at some point and noticed my pace had dropped to an awful 9:07. Ouch. I forced myself to pick it up a bit and pushed myself with everything I had left in me, praying for the finish to come soon. Finally, I could see it up ahead. Unfortunately, so could everyone else around me. Almost immediately, I got passed by another girl. I tried my hardest to catch back up with her, but I was running on empty. On top of that, I could feel myself quickly approaching the puke threshold. I wanted so, so badly to catch this girl, but it became apparent that I just didn't have it in me. I gave it one last hard push and FINALLY reached the finish line.

Mile 3: 8:51
Last .1 (or .19, according to Gertie): 7:37 pace

I was SO glad to be done. But still, I felt like vomit was imminent. I took a moment to compose myself. Finally, after a couple minutes, I felt like the contents of my stomach were safe. I walked over to the nearby pavilion where water and Gatorade were available** and met up with Wilson (who had finished in 22:16; a little over a minute slower than his PR). We animatedly traded race stories and splits for a while before heading back to the car (and then on to Round Rock Donuts for a post-race treat--YUM!). Even if this race wasn't the best race ever for us, I think it's safe to say that we're both glad to be back to racing! :)

Final Stats (according to Gertie): 26:17; 3.19 miles; 8:23 pace
Official Time: 26:19; 3.1 miles; 8:29 pace

Some Final Thoughts:

1. I LOVE this race series. Everything was run really well and everyone there (both runners and volunteers from the Georgetown Running Club) was nice as can be. I think it will be really cool to get to run a 5K on the same course every month, and a great way to judge my progress once I mix speed work back into my routine.

2. As horrible and inconsistent as my splits were, I kind of expected it. While I am bummed at how badly I faded as the race went on, I think I am more depressed that running a 26-ish minute 5K caused me to approach the puke threshold. That's just sad. I knew going into this that I wasn't in 5K racing shape, but c'mon!! My ego definitely took a hit there.

3. At the same time, I am in shock that I managed to push myself hard enough to actually approach the puke threshold. I'm sure my icky stomach could be partially to blame for this phenomenon, but I definitely DID leave everything I had in me out on the course this morning. I didn't have an ounce of energy left in me after I crossed that finish line. Considering how badly I wanted to give up throughout much of the race, I'm extremely proud that I sucked it up and found a way to hold on.

4. Somehow--and I don't even know how this is possible--I ended up finishing 9th place female. SAY WHAAAAA? I cracked the Top-10, baby! Now, as I mentioned before, this is a "no frills" race and there are no awards (nor age groups). But according to the standings, I finished 9th out of 90 women and 57th overall (out of 194 runners). Um, looks like all of the fast ladies must have stayed in bed this morning . . . but hey, I'll take it!! Sure beats those races back in NYC where I would inevitably finish in something like 394th place in my gender!

5. I can't wait to smoke today's time and earn myself a course record at next month's race! ;)

Thanks for reading, y'all! Hope you are enjoying the weekend!

*Having never been to the park before, we were a little bit worried about figuring out where to go; but everything was super easy and clearly marked. There was even a really friendly man out directing the parking. He asked us whether we'd been there before and welcomed us when we said we were new. He pointed out where everything was, from registration, to restrooms, to the start area. It was such a nice touch. We felt like VIPs!!

**I was pretty shocked that a race that cost $1 to enter--and aims to raise money for the park it is run in--offered Gatorade at the end. How could they afford to do so on $1 a head?! Well, apparently the Austin Marathon--which was run back in February--donated their leftover Gatorade and cups to this race series. How cool is that?! By the end of the race, the thought of Gatorade made me want to vomit; but still, it was a very cool surprise!


Lindsay said...

sounds like a cool little race series! you're running, (gasp) blogging, it's like you're almost coming back to us ;) yeah i think you will find you will place better now that you're not in nyc! um hi how do you think i "win" races haha. congrats to both you and wilson!

ps - you guys should come visit your parents again in october and run spinx :) you can sleep in my guest bed instead of a closet.....

Marlene said...

Sounds like a great series - you can't beat a race for a buck! Can't wait to see how much you improve at the next one. Congrats!!!

Paige said...

You got back out there and that is the biggest accomplishment of the day!

I love your attitude and that you're already excited to kick your own butt at the next race in the series.

Great job out there! Free races are the best, and a top 10 finish is a top 10 finish!! :)

P.S. I have totally been beaten by a kid in a 5k before, and it totally annoyed the shit out of me because they did the same thing you were describing, the back-and-forth crap, lol!

Being Robinson said...

a) SQUUUEEEEE you're back. and live ONE WHOLE STATE AWAY. uh huh, that's right. did you notice the only state between us is oklahoma?! bam. welcome back to blarggie land.

b) nice race, especially since you haven't done speedwork. you'll get it back soon enough.

c) my speed has amped up, i think this to actually being injury free for an entire year. amazing! also i'm not training for a marathon right now, which helps


e) consider yourself a true mid-westerner/southerner/texan now... you eat grits?! love it.

Unknown said...

My 6 y.o. daughter, Brooke, runs like the little boy you mentioned. I think most kids have no real sense of pacing. They just run till they can't run any more then stop, suck in their breath, then do it all over again.

Very frustrating for adults trying to run with or near them; but that's just part of being a little guy I guess!

And then some never EVER learn how to pace themselves!

Paul :-)

chris mcpeake said...

great race, cheap and free races rule

August said...

Hello I saw a post you made a couple years ago about how you think it's unfair guys can't run in capri tights. I agree, it is unfair.

However if you go to Europe, or look at pictures of marathons in Europe, you will see it's quite common for men to run in capri tights. It must be a cultural difference.

And some brands in the US do make 3/4 length tights (or capris) for men. CW-X and Adidas do.


Guy that runs in capris

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pay per head service said...

At least it is nice to run with a lot of different people and have nice run.