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Summertime 5K

June 13, 2009

royalpalm09Garmin Time: 25:43
Field Placement: Uh, no idea.

This race was organized by a local town as one of the events surrounding the celebration of their 50th anniversary. My friend M and I drove down from where we live, about 30 minutes north, to run in it. We parked near the start, and arrived in plenty of time to grab our bibs and stand around talking for some time. We observed other runners stretching and warming up, but in such a warm weather event, I didn’t want to get any warmer than I already would during the running of the race itself, and neither did M.

We got in the crowd as the RD started giving instructions–it was almost impossible to hear as a sherriff’s deputy chose that moment to try to start a cranky golf cart. We did hear her say we should run on the sidewalks as much as possible, and then it was “Ready, Set, Go!” and off we were. I had a few runners (and walkers) to try to navigate through to get into my first-mile rhythm.

It was a warm day in southeast Florida today, folks. Of course every other runner had to contend with those conditions, too. Instead of an 8-minute pace I contented myself with an 8:30 pace at the start–even at that, my breathing felt labored, but I reminded myself that I run between 6 and 8 miles in higher humidity every day. I wanted to give myself time to find my rhythm before assuming that my breathing indicated a problem. Sure enough, by the end of the first mile my breathing was back to normal–well, not normal for an easy run, but race-normal.

The race had no mile markers, so many runners were racing blind; I wondered whether some had gone out too fast or miscalculated the distance. Certainly many seemed to be walking by the first mile. Like many of them, I’m sure, I was looking for a water station near the end of the first mile; it was actually closer to the 1.5 mark. I’d been slowly sneaking up on a friend from our church, gaining on her but not able to pass. Though several runners ran through the water stop, my friend and I both stopped to walk–I guess we both figured every ounce of water in those half-filled cups was too precious to waste. I took two big gulps and poured the rest over my head. Starting to run again, I patted my friend on the arm, setting out again and trying consciously not just not to fall back into my 8:30 pace but to pick it up.

I had spotted a woman in the field who looked like she was my age, and I’d thought I’d keep her in my sights, but when she started off at that 8-minute pace I had to let her go. Now, she began to come into my sights again, though distantly. Mile 2 came in at 8:25. I knew the longest, toughest mile was ahead, but I also remembered how breaking 24 minutes in December had required emptying myself. A mile and one-tenth to go. No PR, but we might as well get some practice in.

By now, the crowd I was running in was very sparse. We were all very tired, and very hot. We could thank our volunteers only with gestures,  but I was determinedly picking off runners and still had that blue tank in my sights. I was concentrating on my form, trying to run easy and relaxed though my breathing was labored and I was working hard. I tried to remember that lengthening my stride does nothing for me except expose me to injury–instead, I must increase my turnover.

Where is the finish? I look down and we’re at 2.8 miles–then 3. Volunteers ahead are telling us the finish is just ahead, but as I look down at Garmie it’s flashing 3.1, and yet I’m still seeing a smiling volunteer waving his arm for me to turn into the park. I stopped Garmie, not glancing at the time*, and dialed it in–I’m still beating that blue tank if I can. Mile 3 came in at–finally–7:55.

I didn’t beat the blue tank, though I may have passed a runner or two in the final 400 meters. My clock time for the 3.25 may have been 26:something, but Garmie has me at far less than that for the 5K distance.

In the end, I’m calling this a good practice race. Though I only got 30 miles in this week instead of 40, I’m thankful for the hot weather training, M’s company**, and, as always, the experience of racing, of pushing yourself right up to the limit without losing control.

*For me, it was far more instructive to know how I did this time at the 5K distance, so I can compare my performance to the Pineapple run three weeks ago and the 5K I plan to run six weeks from now, than to know what the race organizers clocked me at.

**Post-race, M and I went out for coffee and good conversation. Christian runners are the best source of wisdom on all sorts of subjects (but make no mistake, we stink just as much as the next guy–so my apologies to the staff at that Starbucks).

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. jdsruns permalink
    June 14, 2009 11:34 am

    congratulations on a good time given the heat.
    Too Fat.

  2. the Ringmaster permalink*
    June 15, 2009 7:39 am

    Thanks for the encouragement. Though compared to my PR it doesn’t look fast, I definitely gave my best out there, so I appreciate the pat on the back. It was a very hot, humid day. But . . . have I said it enough? I love to race! I can’t help but give the best of myself, and whatever the numbers on the clock, it was my best on that day. Your words mean a lot to me.

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