Race Report: St. Patrick's Day 5k

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Jen found a local 5k that was put on by Yuma Desert Runners and suggested I run it. We've been in Arizona a week now and a race sounded fun. With all the moving, driving, and bad eating the last few weeks I must admit I wasn't feeling in top PR shape. Even though I PR'd a week ago, I felt much different this week. On top of that my youngest got the stomach bug on Monday. And while I didn't throw up like he did, I definitely felt 'off' and was fighting the same bug. Fortunately I felt normal again Thursday morning. My last race I had the awesome advantage of having my Mom, stepdad, mother and father in law, and kids there to cheer me on! While I didn't have as big of a crowd I did have Jen and the kids there, which was perfect for me.

My only goal for his race was to run sub 20:00. If I was feeling better than I could try for more. I had already run 17 miles in the days before the race so my legs weren't as fresh as they could be. I was just going to have fun. Winning and running fast is fun, but I wasn't taking it too seriously.

Playing in the Colorado River before the race.

Pre-Race: The race started out in Gateway park along the Colorado river. The park had nice amenities and playground. It also had shade. This race was going to be about 50 people, no timing system, and very casual. I looked around to see if anyone else looked like a 'racer' and I only saw a few that looked fast (but looks can be deceiving!).

The registration table. It was a small crowd, but very family friendly and fun.

Mile 1: There were about 4-5 guys that got near the start line with me. When they said "go!" I took off and grabbed an early lead. For the first 400 meters I had 2-3 guys on my tail. By 800 meters it was down to me and one guy drafting me. 6:04

Mile 2: The race was an out-and-back along the river. At the turnaround, which was clearly marked (thank you!), I was about 25 seconds ahead of second place. We high-fived as we passed each other because runners are friendly. Unless I blew up I realized this was my race to win. I tried to push it enough to hold off a late run by Mr. 2nd place. But my mouth and throat were starting to burn.  6:19

Mile 3: At this point my mouth feels like I swallowed a tablespoon of cinnamon. It was dry. Saying it was dry does not communicate how dry it really was. It felt like I just ate a handful of sawdust. I've never experienced dry mouth quite like this. Not even when I wrestled in Jr. High. I tried to ignore the feeling and just press on. Water became my motivation to finish. 6:15

Coming in to the finish line.

Finish: I crossed the line in 19:04 good for first place! I wish I could have seen the time as I approached the finish because I'm pretty sure I could have chopped off 4 seconds to go under 19. My throat was burning with dryness. I grabbed some water and went and cheered in Mr. 2nd place. He finished about a minute behind me and ran a fantastic race by himself the whole way (3rd was probably another minute behind him).

The kids loved picking out which sub to eat.

I know it's blurry, but we were having fun.
After the race they had beer and firehouse subs. They had plenty of food so we just ate dinner there at the park. For my victory I got a gift card to firehouse subs and a t-shirt, not bad for such a small race!

While winning was fun, the highlight for me was seeing Jen and the kids cheer me on the final stretch and playing in the park before the race.

Race Report: Shamrock Shuffle 5k

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Monday, March 14, 2016

To put this race in context we ran it during a cross country move. We stopped in Kansas for 5 days during our move from Virginia to Arizona. The upside of this decision is it made me feel better about taking some days off from running. The downside was, well...we were in an unsettled state which isn't exactly ideal for racing. A big bonus of this race is my good friend Brett ran it with us!

Goals: My 'A' goal for this race was to break my previous PR of 19:38. My 'B' goal was to run sub 19 minutes and my 'C' goal was to place in my age division. I felt fairly confident of setting a new PR because the course was a flat out and back and I have put in some good miles and speed work the past few months. I have been feeling faster .

Pre-race: The race HQ was inside a tavern. They had lots of food and indoor bathrooms which was nice (even if it was a bar bathroom). It was a bit chilly, mid 40's, but also sunny and there was no wind. There was maybe a few hundred runners total. The course runs along the Kansas river on the levee which is covered in fine gravel. It's actually a pretty good running surface. When they announced one minute to go I toed up on the starting line. I didn't notice anyone else besides me Jen and Brett who looked like they really wanted to race.

Mile 1: I took off! I was hoping to hold about a 5:50/mile pace for the race and I started the first 400 meters at about a 5:40 pace. 5 seconds into the race I was leading and I felt no one around me. This actually stunk. I had no one to help pace and share the pain. 800 meters in and there was still no one around me. I didn't chance a look behind me (can't show weakness!) but I also didn't hear anyone near me.

Mile 2: Now I hear footsteps. Someone is gaining on me fast. I've eased off to a 5:50 pace. Very quickly he comes up on me says "hows it going?", I say "good" and then jets past me. I briefly contemplate latching on to him and trying to hold his pace but I'm about maxed out and he's burning it up at about a 5:30 pace. We are all alone. Racing alone is hard. Mr. Speedy is about 15 seconds ahead of me and he approaches a water station or what appears to be the turn around. This water station is a truck parked on the path when a few volunteers with water cups. I see him ask where the turn around is and he actually stops and puts his hands out like "where is it?". Then he turns around right at the water spot and starts his run back. I come up on the same spot and turn around where he did. However, it seemed short. My GPS watch said I still needed to run about 0.08 of a mile more. Oh well.

Mile 3: Mr. Speedy is about 20 seconds ahead. I get the feeling he is putting out enough effort to just keep me comfortably behind him. I have not doubt he could dust me if I tried to make a move. I would love to make a move on him, but I am close to red lining holding a 5:50 pace. Because of the race being an out and back I get to see how close 3rd place is to me. He's probably 45 seconds behind me and I feel confident that I can hold 2nd if I don't blow up. As I start to run past people who haven't turned around yet many people hold out their hands for me to give them a high five and say "good job", "go get him" ect. It was a very friendly and nice gesture. And they all probably think I'm a jerk because I can't high five you while running this fast in the opposite direction. I can't barely keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Finish: Crossed the finish line in an amazing 18:06! My time was good enough for 2nd overall and 1st in my age division. Definitely a new PR by a LOT! My watch says the course was short by 0.15 so I'm a bit confused on my time. One on hand, wow! A huge PR! On the other hand, I feel like the race was short.

GPS watches are not always accurate and they can lose signal when running under trees or overpasses (like the highway we ran under in this race). This can cause them to 'plot' points that are inaccurate. If the satellite doesn't ping at the exact point of the turn around, you can loose considerable distance as well. So was the course short or was my watch off? I don't know. The race isn't new, it's been going on for years so that speaks of them getting it right. But it was also an amateur fest. At the end of the day my time is my time. I feel confident that I can run close to that time again. I guess that means I just have to do more races!

Brett, Me, and Jen after the race.