Average Pace 9:25/mile
Do you ever have a day where you get up and you just know it's not your day? You can't put your finger on what, but something is just... off. It's almost as if you could listen to Fred Durst sing Break Stuff about 100 times on loop?
Yeah! Sing it, Fred! I don't wanna wake up. And everybody does suck! I don't even know why, but I wanna justify, rippin' someone's race bib off...!
Needless to say, guess who was in a super good mood to race on the 4th of July? This girl!
Me, happy to wake up even from an early age.
So. Race day. Hooray (*sarcastic eye roll*). I didn't even know what my problem was. It's not that I was crabby, or tired, or upset about anything in particular. The only thing I could put my finger on definitively was that my motivation was registering at about a -6 on a scale of 1 to 10.
If you haven't read much of my blog, you're going to think that my race stories always end up grumpy since my last few haven't been super-duper chipper. Don't worry - I do actually enjoy this stuff. It's just that every so often I have a day like this. I think we all do. And for lack of any better way to describe it, I just call it a poopy mood day.
So despite the fact that it's the 4th of July and I have a wonder woman costume picked out, I stuff down my standard race morning banana and proceed to the start line of the Siren Freedom Five in a poopy mood snit.
I guess it wasn't 100% poopy, I look somewhat happy here:
As I watch the revelers, and with my husband keeping me company pre-race, my poopy mood starts to loosen up a little. I mean, how can you not crack a smile when you see people looking like total asses in 'Murika gear?
I actually saw one guy wearing a stars and stripes vest... with nothing underneath. Well, shorts of course, but no shirt. Keepin' it classy.
In my people watching poopy mood stupor, I had to be quite careful what I got a chuckle out of. I was in small town Wisconsin, after all, and you know how that goes. Just because someone has a mullet or a 80's blast from the past outfit on, doesn't always guarantee they are wearing it IRONICALLY... as was the case of the old man next to me running in American flag shorty shorts and nothing else.
Imagine someone that looks something like this:
I've seen enough belly hair for one summer, I'll tell you what.
I also saw someone wearing a Siren Fire Department t-shirt, and strangely harnessed at the waist to a four wheeler. I have yet to determine that he was running the whole race in said harness, but I would hazard a guess that he did. If so ... BAD ASS! (And side note, thank god that the Siren FD stays fit... I've heard less than rave reviews for some of the FD branches in Minnesota...)
FD dude looked something like this:
So, as my mood begins to lighten, I people watch and start to mentally "warm-up" for the race. Then it hits me... pre-race jitters.
WHAT? WTF! I have done duathalons, half marathons, and just ran 100 miles in May. A 5K is a piece of cake, and I've done it literally hundreds of times. Why do I have jitters?
OH! DAMMIT! Reality sinks in. Now I know why I'm having a poopy mood day. Because if I don't finally pull off a 27 minute finish, anyone who's a real runner and reads this blog is going to think I'm crap at this. I don't just want a 27 minute finish for me. I want it for THIS BLOG.
Woah. Pressure cooker. See how much I work to keep this blog interesting?
Before I can think about it for too much longer, the national anthem is sung and the starting siren is blared. (Get it? Siren blaring for the race in Siren, WI. Har-de-har-har.) I'm off.
In a crowd of about 1,000 people, I'm quickly distracted from my race jitters and just go with the flow. Until...
OMG! A racing first... a rock just got kicked up into my left shoe. I'm not even 1/4 of a mile into the race. Queue poopy mood downward spiral.
I refuse to stop and take out the rock. I'm on a mission at this point to impress you people with an amazing time. I jiggle my foot around in my shoe as I run and finally get the rock shifted to a reasonable location. It's still rubbing around my outer two toes, but I try to tune it out and instead focus on my breathing to distract myself. Breathe in, breathe out...
Usually, the first mile is the hardest for me. My body is telling me it was nice to be lazy pre-run, and my lungs are telling me they don't want to work so hard. I've found that if I can focus on getting my breathing in check while running around an 8:00-8:30 first mile, my 5K time is guaranteed to be a 28 something or better. I strive for that and focus on my breath. Breathe in, breathe out...
As I battle with my lungs, the course winds through the neighborhood surrounding downtown Siren, which has a few minor hills (if you even consider them hills). Then, we transition onto the more flat, open country roads.
By now the sun is fully up in the cloudless sky, and it is bouncing off the asphalt. It's not exactly cool with the extra sun reflection.
Oh, right. This is why I decided not to run this race in 2012 after finishing it in 2011.
This race is just going peachy.
Since my breathing still hasn't settled in, I'm a little surprised to suddenly come upon the halfway water stop. I figure this must be some kind of mistake, but I fear that I will be in a poopier mood if I double check distance or time on my phone at this point, so I resist. However, since it's hot and I want to test a new trick I learned while staffing the Minneapolis Marathon water stop, I opt to grab a cup of water as I run by.
Yep. I said I grabbed water on the run. I can hardly believe it myself.
Usually I don't bother with water on a 5K. But I was curious to try this trick, and it was hot enough to warrant water. Plus, good news - it works! If you squeeze a paper cup flat at the top and drink out of one of the points along the side, it's like a runner's sippy cup. LOL! Water didn't go up my nose, cause me to choke, or end up as 90% spilled on my chest.
With my water success, and due to coming to the water stop faster than expected, my poopy mood starts to lift again. Never mind the fact that my breathing still hasn't settled in and the rock is still in my shoe.
The next mile plus of the race is uneventful. The course winds through the back roads, past some sort of "smells like death" area, and then back in towards town. (I can only assume someone's porta-potty was overdue for an empty, or an animal had died near the road).
When we get near to town, I know the finish isn't too far away... I can see the lake to my right, and I know the finish line is at the park bordering the lake. My playlist indicates that my 27 goal is likely out, since my victory song is already playing, but I wonder if I have a shot for 28 something. I kick into high gear ... and just in time, since I see we're on the entry to the park as I round the last corner of the residential area.
A few seconds more, and I'm close enough to see the timing clock.
Ugh. It literally flips to 29 in front of me. But, I realize I still have a shot to PR if nothing else. I sprint as hard as I can, dodging people left and right. If only I had a straight shot...
My foot hovers over the first mat and I see 29:14 flip to 29:15. I let out a huge "SHIT!" (Sorry, not family friendly, I know). I was this close to a PR, and it slipped away right at my finger tips. By the time my sensor clears the second mat, I've achieved a 29:16.
You can literally see me go from watching the clock and trying to beat it (above), to being absolutely pissed at my time (below).
On the plus side, though, check out that tricep muscle rippling in the 29:14 photo! Roar! Muscle definition!
At this point, my lungs feel like they're going to explode and my heart is racing. Since the race was chip timed (at the finish only), I snuck through the crowd to avoid the chip grabbers and quietly go to die in the grass.
Technically, I didn't die so much as just sweat my ass off and try to get my breath under control.
My husband finds me "lounging" in the grass, luckily just after the temptations to dry heave go away, so I slowly get up to return my chip and grab post race snacks. That's when I realize a toe on my left foot hurts like a mother. That damn rock. (Sure enough, when I got home, a good sized blister is revealed under my sock). I try to find solace in a blueberry muffin as we mosey back to the car.
Somewhat frustrated by my finish, I hope that I will be redeemed when the official time is posted. In the meantime I head home to drown my sorrows in homemade pancakes. I follow that up with a shower, a change into my new t-shirt, and a nap in a hammock.
When the results email finally comes the next day, I actually am happy, too... but for an entirely different reason.
Per the email: "Congratulations on your finish in the Siren Freedom Five 5K! Your official time was 29:16, a pace of 9:25 per mile. You finished 137th out of 471 women and 22nd out of the 85 Women 30 - 39. " ... and I realize, I finished in the upper 25% of my age category!
But that's not even what makes me the most happy.
I was curious to see how close I was to my previous finish time. Checking back to the results in 2011, I find out I finished 44th out of 60 runners in my age category, or just barely over the 75% mark. Even more amazing, my finish time was 32:41, with a 10:31/mile pace. In two years, I have taken over three minutes off my overall finish time, and over a minute a mile off of my pace... and that's on a poopy mood day, imagine what I would have done if I was in the groove!
As I consider those results, I think about where I've come from, and where I'm headed... suddenly my poopy mood vanishes, and that 29:16 is pretty ok with me.
I stuff my bright yellow race shirt in the hamper for a wash, and revel in my post race awesomeness. Now I just need to find a spot on the wall for my new bib, #2058 (my wall is getting pretty full)...
And that's the story of how race bib # 30 joined my collection. Here's to another race soon... hopefully my blister will be healed by then!