Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Lake Run 5K 2013 (Strollin' Ain't Nothin' But a G Thang)

Lake Run 5K (3.15 miles)
Average Pace 9:12/mile

Ugghhhh...guess what time it is again?!

Yep, time to get up early for race day.

I can tell I've done too many race weekends in a row lately.  I'm really starting to miss my sleep in Saturdays.  This is my fourth weekend in a row of racing, with one more weekend to go. 

All I can say is... Thank god for coffee.  Lots and lots of coffee.

Actually, I think I might be getting into an early morning rhythm, because this weekend didn't seem quite as bad.  At least I wasn't feeling the need to punch anyone in the face as soon as I got out of bed. 

If you've ever seen me when I first get up, you'll know that's quite the improvement.

My slightly less murderous wake up attitude may also be thanks to my internal motivator for this race.  You see, three years ago I ran this course in Shell Lake, WI for the first time - and by some odd stroke of luck, I took second in my age category with a time of 30:45.  To this day I can't figure out why, because look at the competition last year:

I know.  I've been thinking about it for a long time, and I still don't get it.  And, I've been chasing a medal in my age category for this race ever since.

As long as we're going to talk about my drive to medal, I suppose I should come clean and mention what I spent my evening before the race doing.  Yes, it's true.  I was eyeing up my potential competition. 

Upon doing a last second check online to confirm what time the race started, I figured out that the race timing this year was going to be done by a new system.  Ever hear of Webscorer

Yeah, me neither.  But I learned about it quickly once I realized it allows you to see who is registered pre-race.  The stalker in me competitor in me quickly figured out how to sort off the women in my age category - and the good news at that point was, none of them were the speedsters on the above list.  So, things were off to a good start.

And that evening, with dreams of sugar plums and race medals dancing in my head, I drifted off to sleep.

Unfortunately, those sugar plums were rudely ripped away from me on race morning. *waaa-waaaahhhh* (insert sad clown whistle)

I don't know if people were hesitant to preregister for this race due to the horrendous heat wave we've been having, or if this is just one of those races that folks sign up for on day of.  Either way, the day of drop-ins were massive.  I think the entire race (both the 5K and 9 mile options) had about 100 preregistered as of Friday night. 

As of Saturday gun time, the 5K alone had ballooned to 147 participants. 

Boo for me. 

Hoorah for the fundraisers, sort of. 

Unfortunately, this "day of" registration boom was giving race organizers a panic attack.  They were definitely scrambling trying to enter all these new registrants into the timing system.  When all was said and done, this caused a 30 minute delay at race start. 

Hopefully the organizers get smart and cut off race day registration 30 minutes prior to the event next year to compensate for day of data entry.  If they don't, they might end up burning their bridge to racers like me who like to start on time (they may have already burned their bridge with several in the crowd this year, because many people were NOT happy campers about the delay).

On a more positive note, if you were reading carefully above, you just saw me mention the option to run a 9 miler at this event.  If you caught that, I'm sure you're wondering - hey Natalie, WTF!  You are a halfer, why not do the 9 miler?

Well, a few reasons, actually.  First and most importantly, I'm running the Chicago Half next weekend, so I wanted to take it easy on my legs.  Second, this race is one that my husband usually is OK with going to because the local airport has a fly-in event going on while I run, so he can sit and watch planes land to pass the time... which he seems to enjoy for the 30 minutes or less that it takes me to finish the 5K course, but I'm not so sure he would enjoy tripling that time while I did the 9 mile course.  Third, the 9 miler attracts some serious runners, and although I wouldn't come in last, I would definitely be one of the bottom 5 on the list - which worries me, because I don't want to be the one holding up the bus for the volunteers (or, alternately, be the one at the tail end getting lost on course because I don't have anyone in sight to follow)... 

OK FINE!  I won't lie!  I run the 5K because I want to medal in my age category again, duh! 

Why do you always have to ferret out my selfish intentions?

Speaking of, selfie time!

I guess it's technically not a selfie if your husband took it.  Whatever, who cares.

As you can see, it was a bit chilly on race morning, especially when put in perspective with my race from last weekend, which was called off mid race due to excessive heat.  I'll wear a zip up hoodie any day if it means not sweating to death like that again.  Blech!

Back to the race...

While we are all anxiously awaiting the gun, I cannot help but hear the DUMBEST CONVERSATION EVER!!!!

Older woman #1: Oh, look at that race stroller.  I wish I could have one of those.
Older woman #2: What?
Older woman #1: I wish I could run with a stroller.  I bet it would make me faster.
Older woman #2: What do you mean, why?
Older woman #1: Because I could lean on it, so it would be easier to run.
Older woman #2: Oh, you mean like on the treadmill, when there's handles?  Yeah, that does make it easier to go faster.  That's a good idea.

Seriously, are you kidding me?  A stroller would NOT MAKE YOU FASTER, you dummies.  The treadmill is easier because you are cheating by putting your weight onto a stationery frame.  You are not supporting the weight, the frame is.  A stroller means supporting your weight and pushing even more!! 

I would say more but... HEAD.  JUST.  EXPLODED.  GAH!

Finally, after endless data entry announcements and several swears from the racers around me, the race was good to go.  And without further adieu, we all took off.  Me even more quickly than normal, simply to get as far away as possible from those two older "stroller" women.

Since this was the third time for me on this course, once we started running, I didn't really care much about the sites.  I'm already familiar with the modest lake homes amongst the trees and shoreline of Shell Lake, so  I spent most of my race focusing on my music and checking my pace on my watch.  Besides, I knew I was going to have to push hard on this run if I wanted to even come close to medaling.

Here's a map and my splits if you're curious:


Wahoo!  I just realized I ran my first ever 3rd mile faster than my 2nd mile.  Not too shabby!  But, I definitely could have pushed harder.  Maybe some day I'll achieve the ever elusive negative split!

Ah!  I bet I know what was slowing me down on mile 2, though, lol!  STUIPD STROLLERS! 

Seriously, though.  There was this couple that was just cracking me up.  They had a pair of toddlers in a double wide, non-runner stroller and were taking turns pushing the stroller as they ran together on course.  The wife would push them really fast and blast past her husband (just to be a total show off), then ditch the stroller and keep going, forcing the husband to take it.  Then he would fly past her, and start showing off by doing various tricks.  Like, he would push the stroller forward as hard as he could and then run up to it as it was coasting to a stop. 

Those two were having way too much fun. 

And yes, they were still beating me to the finish line.  Have I told you how much I hate being passed by running strollers?  Not to mention this was a double wide, non-runner.  *Sigh*

As the miles ticked by, I kept hoping that my time would be good enough to medal.  But as soon as this happened:

This happened:

Boo, no medal for me.

Not to be discouraged from the lack of medal, I decided to dissect the results.

          6th out of 26 women in my age category = 23%
          38th out of 140 racers = 27%
          Time in 2011: 30:45
          Time in 2012: 30:32 (less than 1% improvement over 2011)
          Time in 2013: 28:35 (more than 6% improvement over 2012, shaving off 2 minutes!)

So, rather than celebrating a medal, I celebrate the small victories:  I am finally transitioning away from the lower 2/3rds of the pack, and sometimes I can even consider myself towards the front of the pack (eek!).  I've increased my speed on the same course by over 2 minutes.  And most importantly, even after running for 4 years now, I still find all this to be ... FUN!

After all, making it fun is the most important part.  If it weren't for that, why would I keep doing it?

And that's the story of how race bib # 34 joined my collection.  Here's to another race soon... the Chicago Half next weekend, in fact!

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