Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ruston Way Elite 5k

A couple of months ago, Miguel Galeana, owner of Route 16 Running and Walking store  based out of Gig Harbor, sent out an open invitation to the Ruston Way Elite 5k. The rub is you had to meet qualifying times, hence the Elite part of the race.

Elite Race Criteria:
  • Open Male - 15:59 or less
  • Open Female - 17:59 or less
  • Masters Male - 17:59 or less
  • Masters Female 20:59 or less
    -Must have occurred in a qualifying or certified 5k race within the last two calendar years.
    -Elite entrants will need to be confirmed by the race director

I ran a 20 minute 5k in December so I thought, why not?  How many times in my life would I have an opportunity to run an "invitational" type race?  I definitely don't think I'm all that, but Miguel set the standards so who am I to argue?  Miguel confirmed that I was in the race and I immediately felt sick.  As I thought about the upcoming race, with marathon training in full swing, I knew it would be challenging but hope springs eternal.  A fast 5k (for me!) might be possible even with high mileage so long as I taper a little before the race.

So a week before the race, I just completed a 100 mile week.  Um, yeah, that's not exactly tapering.  My Marathon Maniac mind thought a week of reduced mileage (42 miles) before the race would be A-ok!  I know you're rolling your eyes right now; it's okay, I can take it.

Tuesday before the race, I hit the track during my daughter's soccer practice and did my first official track workout - 8 x 400s.  Managed 93-98 seconds each 400, nothing elite about that, but hey, it's a start.

The day before the race, I set out for an easy 3 mile run.  I made it 2.5 miles before I had to walk!  I was feeling nauseous and dizzy for no obvious reason.  At this point, I considered not showing up for the 5k.  I mean, no one would miss me because the reality is, my 5k times, even a PR, wouldn't be fast enough for a placement in the field - other than in the back.  I had some serious internal conversations that morning and decided that I would run the race despite the outcome.  The deciding factor was picturing myself in the future, old and decrepit, thinking about my running days without having run it.  I know I would be disappointed in myself for letting pride get in the way of being part of this rare opportunity.

I hit the sack at 9:30 pm, something quite close to a miracle for this night owl, and set my alarm for 6:20.  My Brooks ID singlet, Glycerin Shorts and PureConnects would run with me.

Sunny weather anticipated!  Woohoo~ and I made it to the start by 8:20, almost 2 hours before race start of 10:00 a.m.

I entered the elite tent and checked in with Miguel, attached my bib and left my stuff in the tent while I set out for a warm up along the course.  I could get used to having special treatment.  I set my Itouch to "Race Day Playlist" and head out along Ruston Way, noting the pancake-flat road ahead, the sky clear, water sparkling and mountains making a grand appearance.  This would be spectacular if I wasn't so nervous.  I hand-slapped Jeff Bauknecht and told him, "Somebody's got to be last, right?" I also talked with Tony Seabolt about a mile into my warmup, as he was heading back to the start.  He was working the race and reminded me not to start too fast.  Hmmm....easier said than done.

I jogged the 5k and still had plenty of time to talk with other runners, think too much and fight through lingering doubt.  I was talking with some super fast women and what I find completely inspiring is how they made me feel like I belonged there.  With them.  The endurance coach for Club Northwest approached me and I felt like he was "scouting" me.  Ha!  What a (non)surprise he didn't come searching for me after the race!

Bureaucrats delaying the start to 10:15
The race was delayed until 10:15, so we had extra time to warm up and fret.  Finally Jeff Bauknecht lined us up and gave us instructions and told us not to cross the orange cones or we'd be disqualified.  I lined up on the back right and let go of huge expectations.  I really wanted to at least get the 20:59 qualifying time but was hoping for more.

Oh man, the dreaded all-out sprint of a 5k had begun.  A quarter mile into the race and there was already a sizable gap between me and the rest of the field.  I felt like my lungs were stretched to their max, with my heart leaping into my throat. I glanced at my Garmin and saw I was averaging a 5:30 mile.  So, yeah, that's not gonna work for me.  I had to keep pushing and not think about how slow I looked in comparison.  I could hear my breathing, which sounded like wheezing and hit the first mile in 6:23.  That was a perfect pace to come in under 20 which was my big goal.

I was last.  Dead last.  You know, like people thought the last runner came by, went about their business, and then I ran by.  "Is she a bandit?" they wondered.  Okay, I don't KNOW if they actually wondered.  As I approached the half-way, I noticed a male masters runner getting closer.  He was slowing because I knew I was not getting faster.  Just before the orange cone turnaround, I passed him as he said, "My training indicated a better time than this.  Getting older sucks!" and I harumphed a "yeah" and kept going.  I was just trying to breathe.  Mile 2 was 6:44!  Ach.  I didn't even know I had slowed based on how I felt.

The third mile, I tried to hang on, to push myself but ran a disappointing 6:50 split.  Up ahead, I saw the clock ticking and I knew I could get just under 20:59 but there would be no letting up on my effort.  The crowd was cheering loudly for me, despite the full minute+ after the last finisher and myself.  The guy I passed finished a minute after me.  I spent a few minutes walking around trying to get my breathing and emotions under control.  20:52 finishing time isn't horrible in most races but it was a disappointment to me personally. I was pleased to have come under the 20:59 standard.

I asked Tony Seabolt if he thought it would be okay for me to run in the open 5k as a cool down and he said go for it.  I didn't stick around for the elite awards ceremony, which looking on it now, I should have just to show my support of the other runners.  I was just thinking that I didn't win anything and really felt discombobulated (I love that word!) and needed to go for an easy run.  A cute, fuzzy puppy was in the crowd and I relieved some stress by petting it and baby talking with it.  I threaded my way through the back of the crowd and realized I should have started closer to the front as there were numerous walkers in front of me and I could barely jog without coming to a compete stop. I wasn't racing but did want to get in an easy run.  I finished in 26:44.  Not that it matters.

The top 3 open 5k winners for women all beat my time but I would have won first master female with my finish.  Which, I guess, is cool.

My next race is Tacoma City Marathon on May 6th, then a Brooks sponsored race - Portland Rock & Roll half marathon on May 20th, followed by North Olympic Discovery Marathon on June 3rd.  I am now incorporating pace work into my training, something long overdue, and reducing my overall mileage.  I had intended to do pacework with my high mileage but found I was burned out too much to do anything but a comfortable pace most days.

Here's to smarter training!

Avg Pace

I eased my disappointment after the race by petting this adorable puppy