This was my first time running after the marathon, and I was optimistic about how I'd do. This was also the first time out with my new Garmin (now dubbed "Butters", after the Harry Dresden character for whom polka will never die). I had programmed it for a 5K PR (I was very optimistic), but that dream got smashed after a string of SNAFUs.
I don't know what I was thinking when I set my alarm the night before, but it was set for about ten minutes before I had planned to leave for the race. Despite that, I didn't feel rushed and managed to get out the door at ten minutes past seven. The drive down to Sherwood went quickly and so by 7:30 I was parking my car in a big field near the school.
Note #1 to the race organizers: While I appreciated the plentiful close-by parking, that field was an ankle-breaking nightmare. Also not so much fun for those of us who have both skin and nasal allergies with grass. I notices problems with my breathing after each of the trips I made to and from my car.
I fumbled on my race bib -- after what, 30 races I still can't manage to pin a bib on decently? -- turned on Butters and followed the pack towards the race. I felt great as I hit a short line to the potty (indoor plumbing even, they opened the school us for us), said hi to Alan at the NW Running League table and put in my league raffle ticket entry, and stretched out.
Then they announced that due to overwhelming participation in the race, the race start would be delayed 20 minutes. As all of the proceeds were going to building their new gymnasium, I was glad that they were doing well but the delay meant I was standing around for nearly an hour waiting to run. Which resulted in a very stiff low back and legs and an increasing need to make a return trip to the potty by the time the race started. The horn sounded and we were off.
And then we weren't.
Note #2 to the race organizers: In a race where you have a very high percentage of walkers, most of whom have never been in a race before, please please please emphasize in the race packets and the pre-race announcements that walkers need to go to the back of the pack at the starting line and that they should stay to the far right or the far left.
As the horn sounded, the first 20 or 30 runners (those who expected to place) made it off no problem. The rest of us? Got to walk SLOWLY and nose to nose with our fellow races as the area they had us waiting at the start was huge whereas the starting line was corraled off and about only 15 feet wide. Now, since this was chip timed that wasn't such a big deal. BUT, this logjam continued for a good quarter mile as the narrow course continued through a short green space. So not only a whole lot of people trying to make their way through a 12-15 feet wide path, it was also uneven with a lot of holes so you had to watch our foot not only to make sure you didn't trip on the ground but that you didn't trip over another racer. Who as far as I could tell were all walkers and all walking next to each other down the middle of the path. Single file people!
It is a good thing for everyone that one of those SUV jogging strollers wasn't near me on this path.
Can you tell I've got a raging case of PMS today?
Anyhow, I finally made it to daylight and more room on the course where I noticed just how stiff my legs and back had gotten during the long wait. No matter how much I tried, I couldn't get my pace below 13:36. My mental strength just went at this point. I started to walk and figured that was it for me. Yet after about 20 seconds of that, some hidden part of me went "What the hell? You did 26.2 miles at only a minute slower than 13:36. So what if we can't go faster. Start running!" And so I did.
I haven't figured out much about my Garmin yet, so my screen showed only how far I had to go and my overall pace. I really liked both of those, although I want to add what my current pace is to that. Anyhow, as I watched my overall pace slowly tick upwards, I knew that after doing a whole freaking marathon I didn't want it to keep doing that. As my legs worked out their kinks, I slowly started to get faster. Not dramatically, but second by second my pace started to creep downwards. I wanted to get under a 14:00 minute mile, and I was on track to do so. My legs finally started to feel good by mile two and I picked up several seconds on a short downhill into a park.
Then I came to a short but steep hill out of the park, just after the water station, and I lost a lot of what I'd gained. Grrr. But I kept on, and slowly the seconds ticked back down again. I ran past a funeral home in downtown Sherwood and thought, how appropriate. As I approached the school, I was at 14:03. I had some kick left but as I crossed the finish Butters said I was at 14:01. Darn.
Yet Butters also said I was at only 3.04 miles. Official chip time has me at 0:42:09 and an average pace of 13:34. Given the frustrations of the bottleneck at the start and my uncooperative legs, I'll take it.
Overall, I'd definitely do this race again. The shirts, while cotton, are really nice in a great dark blue slate color with the cute friar logo (the logo is cute, the friar is just meh). The entry free included the shirt plus a raffle ticket and a beer. I didn't feel much like beer that early in the morning, although it looked great -- Cascade Brewing, some sort of raspberry beer -- and they raffled off something like 30 items. I didn't win anything, boo. This raffle was part of the race itself; the league had six items, which I also didn't win. Sponsors included Carl's Jr. which brought some fabulous and huge chocolate chip cookies and these little chocolate cakes with white icing. And they had tons of them; after three hours they were still putting out more. The race folks had mini bagels with packs of real cream cheese, and you could also buy brats (which smelled fabulous, but I was $1 short). The course was almost entirely flat and mostly residential. My only complaint was the race delay, which they said was the first time they'd ever not started on time, and the jam up at the beginning.
Oops, I almost forgot. Bushwalla was to play the after race party, and due to some race result issues he ended up playing several songs while I was still there. Not sure if I've ever heard him before, but I liked the music. He also has a talent for balloon animals, so he had some great banter and made balloon animals for the kids. He also had a bunch of hula hoops that people could use while he was playing. I was impressed.
Hope you are all having a great weekend, and in the case of the PacNW enjoying the beautiful weather!