FINALLY – a real race report! (woohoo!)
Today was my first race since I broke my leg in August (the Back to Football 5k hobble in my walking boot totally doesn’t count as a proper race). A couple of months ago my dad approached me about doing this race, which we had done together in 2009. He really wanted to do this race, so I signed up as well. Unfortunately, winter derailed both of our training plans, so going into this I at least didn’t have high hopes. My goals as of Friday were a) to finish injury-free and b) if that went according to plan, in under 38:00 minutes.
Yesterday was gorgeous – perfect race weather. 60 and sunny. Today? 40 and overcast (with snow falling as I type this…. grr). This was kind of an odd temperature and I wasn’t 100% sure how to dress for it, so I started off in one outfit, and ended up changing into lighter clothes just before the race. We lined up with 5,000 of our closest green-clad friends and eagerly awaited the gun.
The race starts off in the Mount Vernon neighborhood and goes downhill for the first half-mile (whee!), and then winds around the Inner Harbor and doubles back on itself before finishing right downtown at Power Plant Live, with a fantastic after party. I’m always leery of downhill starts because it’s so easy to get ahead of yourself. I made sure to keep my pace slower than most of the people whizzing past me, but still had to weave around a lot of walkers (and pull my pants up at the same time… finding out that your running pants are too big? awesome news. finding that out as you toe the line for your race? not so awesome).
The course was still pretty crowded through the first two turns and towards mile 1, where I looked down and saw that I had done a 9:58 mile! Guess I wasn’t as reserved in my pace as I thought! Mile 2 was an out and back along Key Highway, which is pretty flat, but the road isn’t in the best shape – I spent a lot of time looking at the ground so I wouldn’t twist my ankle, only to literally run into some more walkers (my bad). I passed my dad on his in-bound lap as I was heading back out and gave him the biggest cheer I could muster, which really wasn’t all that big. When I hit mile 2, I decided that I felt good enough that I would keep running all the way to the end. I’ve never run a race completely, start to finish. Just before mile 3 I had a bit of heartburn which slowed me up a bit, but the finish was just around the corner and I saw my mom and husband on the sideline, so I hit the afterburners.
You can imagine my surprise when I looked at my Garmin and saw an unofficial time of 34:33!! This was later confirmed when they posted the official times online. I can’t believe how well this race went, considering how little time I’ve had to run outdoors this winter. I’ve logged nearly 100 miles indoors since the New Year, but that just isn’t the same as hitting the pavement.
My dad finished his second 5k ever a little while after me. Although I don’t think he was quite as pleased with his finish, it’s still a great jumping off point for future races.
My confidence wasn’t high going into this race, but I think this goes to show just how much progress I really have made over the last seven months. My physical therapist gave me some great exercises to fix my muscular imbalances as well as give me a better strength base for the season and really pushed me on the Alter G and treadmill; the cardio and strength work that I’ve been doing on my own just continued to build on this. It sucks when Mother Nature goes bat crap crazy on us like she has this winter, but not all is lost if you can adapt. I’m incredibly fortunate to have gym equipment in my house, so I never have to brave the elements to get to the gym (just hope that we don’t lost power!). I only have 4 weeks until my 10k, but I think that’s enough time to get in better racing shape. I may not break a PR on that one, but that’s okay – my goal for this year isn’t speed, but to stay injury-free.