This one has been on the calendar for a while. But then I injured myself 5 weeks ago. I had to bail out on running another 5K two weeks after the injury. A week later (two weeks ago) I had no idea whether or not I’d be able to run this race.
Then I started physical therapy. I think I was already probably starting to healing up, but the exercise and stretching routine definitely helped speed that along. After a week I felt immensely better. I was confident that I’d be able to run today, but that I’d be hanging with the back of the pack, or at best the late-mid pack.
Went back for a second helping of PT. Got some more advanced exercises. The last couple of runs I did were pain free. So I knew I’d actually be able to run for sure, and even put in a respectable effort.
So, got up this morning, bright and early, drove the 20 or so miles to Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield, MA. It’s a beautiful course, one lap around the lake. Absolutely awesome sunny weather, but early before the heat. Went over to the registration tables. Miranda and Kris were also going to do the race as walkers. Turns out though, that neither one of us actually registered any of us. OK, no problem, we have 45 minutes before the start, I’ll run back to the car and get my wallet. Literally run, as the parking lot was a good ways from the tables. Got back and realized, it’s cash only. No, I don’t have $75 on me. Is there an ATM around? Nowhere close. So off I run (again, literally) to find an ATM. Found one, probably a third of a mile away. Mission accomplished. I run back. At least I’m all warmed up now, right?
25 minutes to start. But I have to wait in line for the porta-potties (10 minutes) and walk to the start line (another 5-10). But got there with a few minutes to spare and stretch.
And we’re off. I refuse to look at my Garmin for the first few minutes, just trying to settle into a comfortable pace. I finally look down and see I’m doing around 7:30. What the…? I feel totally comfortable, like I’m dong 9:00 or maybe 8:30 tops. The whole first mile was like that – me looking down at my watch and shaking my head in disbelief. Garmin says I covered the first mile in 7:29.
Right after the first mile, there was a water station. Grabbed a cup, took two or three sips and dumped the rest on my head. It was early, so not super hot out, but I was sweating already. I must have swallowed some air, because within a minute or two, my stomach was hurting. That went on for a good chunk of mile 2. Then I burped and felt 100%. Mile 2 wasn’t quite so magical. I was still cruising along at the same general pace, but it was starting to take some effort to maintain it. Still, I finished that one a second faster at 7:28.
And then there was mile 3. Here’s where I felt the effects of running a grand total of less than 30 miles in the last 5 weeks. My cardio was shot. Now I was seeing 7:40-something on the Garmin. I started talking to myself. Repeating my sheep man mantra. I imagine I got some strange looks from fellow racers. But screw’em. I had a few rallies here, but couldn’t hold them. I was still passing people, but just as many were passing me. I’m pretty sure I was playing back and forth with a few people, but I couldn’t differentiate any more. Garmin says 7:39 for the last mile.
There was no 3 mile marker and I didn’t know the course at all, so I was just trying to hold on indefinitely. Then we turned a corner and down the end of this street, maybe 0.2 miles, was a bunch of orange cones and clapping people. Was it a mirage? No, there was a clock, too! It was the finish line! Some guy had passed me a few seconds before this epiphany. I know that the sprint I put on was not imaginary, because I left him in the dust.
Total time: 23:44. Not a PR. But only missed it by 9 seconds! I’m pretty amazed I did that well, considering I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to run at all just 2 weeks ago. As for the injury: what injury? Two weeks ago I was limping when I walked. Today, not a twinge out of it, even 8 hours later. Incredible.
Placement was #32 out of 106 in the M4049 age group, and 133 out of 948 overall. Very respectable, in my humble opinion.
We might do another 5K as a family in a couple of weeks. In the mean time, I’m going to work on building up my mileage and my cardio. I feel confident that with a couple of weeks of good runs back under my belt and a flat course, I could PR, and (won’t say this too loudly) maybe even break 23:00. That’s one of my goals for 2011. Would be awesome to achieve it in July.