Friday, July 11, 2014

Siren Freedom Five 5K 2014 (Lady Liberty)


Siren Freedom Five 5K (3.15 miles)
Average Pace 10:08/mile

You're not going to believe me when I say this, but I was really struggling with the idea of doing this race for 2014.  I've run it twice in the past (once in 2013, once in 2011), and in remembering the long, sunny, hot run ... well, I just wasn't all that thrilled about the idea of doing it again.

However, after taking such a lax approach to race registrations this year, and actually kind of missing having a race on the schedule, I decided what the heck.  I figured I'd be in Siren anyway due to the holiday, so this was kinda a gimme.  Besides, the cost of this race is exceptionally low - just $15.  You can't beat small town pricing!!

So, just before the June 15th cut off, I mailed in my registration and crossed my fingers that I could start cramming in speed work to get my 5K pace back up.  Oh, and I began costume planning, of course.

Does it surprise anyone that someone proposed I run naked? 

I thought not.

The above post went on with several other great suggestions, but since Lady Liberty is such a classic, I was pretty much sold.  I was already brainstorming ideas.

And then, disaster.  My favorite run costume seamstress was out on vacation.  The horrors!!

OK, so it was time to put my so-so sewing skills to work.  No big deal.  Well, actually, maybe a big deal.  First I had to find the fabric, which was easier said than done.  You can't exactly call up all the fabric stores in the Twin Cities and say "Excuse me, I am running a 5K this July, and need some sort of spandex or wicking material that resembles the colors of the Statue of Liberty.  Do you have anything in stock that would work?"

Their response, I'm pretty sure, would be something like this.

So it's true that I spent a fair amount of time driving to fabric stores looking for the right stuff.  Which I eventually found at SR Harris, a warehouse I begrudgingly drove 45 minutes to get to after I realized Joanne's pretty much sucked in the arena of spandex fabric selection.  (SR Harris is awesome, btw, if you're looking for a huge selection of fabrics.  But fair warning - it's a PIT.  At least most of the time their fabrics are 50% off the marked price, so it offsets the atmosphere some...  Just think of it as a Marshall's of the fabric world.)

Anyway, I found the fabric and started sewing.  Oh!  Plus, I went on Amazon to find a headpiece option that I could modify to my needs, since I didn't really know how running with anything too big on would go, and I didn't want to waste time on sewing something that wouldn't work out.

So, with that VERY long premise, I introduce to you...



Ok - Let's run.

Fortunately, with the unseasonably cool weather we've been having this year, race day started out quite comfortably.  Which I was thrilled about, being that this is usually a cooker of a course (there are several sections on the course lacking shade, and in the full sun of July, the bounce back on the asphalt is practically hot enough to fry an egg).  The weather was somewhere in the low 60's when I started my journey to the start line, eventually warming to upper 60's/low 70's. 

Perfect running weather.  Assuming you've been training to run.

So, YEAH.  Let's address that straight off.  Yes, I had lofty goals the month leading up to this race that I would start speed work again.  And then... crickets. 

I think all of June I ran MAYBE three times.  Total.  *sad clown whistle*

That's not to say I haven't been working out.  In fact, as I said in my previous race recap, I've been quite busy teaching.  Plus, I'm starting to get back into the swing of swimming on occasion.  And I finally got in my first few bike rides of the summer. But, going into this race, I knew that my running was...

Yeah, that.

My plan, knowing that I wouldn't' be able to maintain a fast pace for long, was to start with an easy first mile and then shoot for speed intervals instead.  Because if I learned anything during Run100, it was that I can do anything for 1/4 to 1/2 mile intervals.  I figured if I could run my average 10:30/11:00 pace that I've gotten a little too comfortable running (a la my marathon training from earlier this year), and after my first mile crank out 1/4 mile intervals at 8:00ish, I might have a chance at coming in under 30:00 with a negative split.

Yeah!  My first ever negative split.  I totally go this!!  Right...?

And so, I lined up with the crowd with my strategy in mind and hoped for the best.

Speaking of the crowd, it was a little disappointing this year.  Hardly any 'Murika gear or interesting runners, at least from what I saw.  Being that it was much cooler than last year, I would have thought the opposite to be true (since it's much easier to run in goofy stuff when it's NOT hot).   Disappointing.  And also slightly awkward, given my extreme outfit.

No bother, though, because as the crowd started to line up, I was swallowed.  OH!  And lucky for me, I was RIGHT BY a woman doing forward folds to "loosen up her hamstrings".  Who was also wearing flip flops.  And very sheer white capri pants.  I was immediately convinced she would be taking first in her age category.  *sarcastic eye roll* 

The group of people she was with were equally as clueless, with one woman screaming into her cell phone during the ENTIRE NATIONAL ANTHEM ON FOURTH OF JULY.  It was so bad that several people around me were looking at me and rolling their eyes as well.  A few people even started shushing her, and she still didn't take a hint...

Regardless, the good thing about the walkers being so obnoxious was that I knew well enough to get in front of them before the gun went off, so I shimmied my way ahead of them as the national anthem wound down, silently hexing them for not lining up in the back with the rest of the walkers.  (I mean, hey, if you are openly screaming on your cell phone about how slow you're going to be and that you're walking it the entire way, maybe - just maybe - you should be BEHIND all the people that are obviously going to run this thing?  I dunno.  Just going out on a limb here.)

Anyway.  I made my way ahead of them just in time to get situated, and then the gun went off.

I was about 100 feet or so back from the first timing mat, so I slowly jogged up and looked for my husband in the crowd, who was on camera duty.  He didn't have too hard of a time finding me as soon as I threw my torch up in the air:

Just after that photo, I crossed the mat and away I went.

Right away I was made aware that it's election season in Siren for Sherriff; apparently I crossed the mat at the same time as one of the candidates.  For the first few minutes of the race, I followed a couple of folks wearing this shirt:


I found that brand of advertising to be quite clever, and chuckled as I ran along.  Kudos to him for being a cop that's in shape!

Eventually my entertainment ran off ahead of me.  Being that it was such a nice, cool day ... and that the race starts out on a fast and flat section of town, I decided to check my watch to see how I was doing. 

I was shocked when I saw that I was at 0.25 miles and maintaining what my watch claimed was a 8:00 pace.  Hmm... maybe my 5K mojo from 2013 was back?  I felt good, so I figured - what the heck!  Instead of intervals, let's just see how this goes.  And so, as we bended through the first few sections of town, I kept a confident pace and held my torch up at a comfortable shoulder height.

That's when I started to realize something.  I think maybe 5 minutes in.  Despite not being noticed pre-race, suddenly my outfit was very popular.  About every 30 seconds someone would see me in the crowd, or run past me, and cheer. 


"Statue of Liberty!"

"Nice costume!"

"Happy 4th of July!"

It was actually quite fun, since it felt like I had my own personal cheering section every where I went.  My head may or may not have gotten a bit swollen from all the praise.

I motored along the course at my best possible pace, and again before I knew it, I was at the water stop.  Unlike last year, this year I had a GPS watch handy, so I checked the accuracy.  Sure enough, it was at the right spot!  Plus, my pace was pretty good.  I figured if I could keep what I was running, I might scrape out a 28/29 minute finish.  Skipping the water, I continued on.

Not even 1/2 mile down the road, I immediately regretted having no water.  I don't know if I was over thinking the fact that I skipped it, or if I didn't have enough pre-race, or if I was starting to sweat too much due to the extra fabric of the costume, but I started to get REALLY thirsty.  My pace started to slow, and mentally I started to lose my edge.

A little voice at the back of my head said:

I promptly punched that voice in the throat and kept on running, albeit at what felt like was a slower and slower pace as the distance ticked on.

Somewhere around the last 3/4 of a mile, I ended up passing a man in a yellow shirt who had finally thrown in the towel and started to walk.  As I passed him, I heard a weak but encouraging "Yeah!  Lady Liberty!".  Before I knew it, he had picked up his pace again, and was running just off my left shoulder.

At this point we had come out of the more isolated country area of the course and were starting back towards civilization (AKA, comin' back inta-town).  As I ran down the road, a man standing in his yard saw me and started screaming towards his house "Hey, Helen!  HELEN!  Quick - ya' gotta come out here!"  Unfortunately for him, I ran past before Helen made it out.

Just past that house, an elderly couple in their 80's were sitting out in their lawn chairs, spectating.  As I rounded the corner by their house, I heard the woman say "Ooooh, look at that!"

Even the spectators were loving the costume!!

Coming back into town, I knew I was close to the finish line, but I was starting to burn out.  I had it in me to run to the finish, but at that point, I just didn't know how fast.  I began to commiserate with the girl in front of me, to my right, who was muttering to herself and swearing. 

Although I doubt she realized I could hear her.

The man in the yellow shirt, unbeknownst to me, was still behind me, off my left shoulder.  He was panting about as much as me, and as the girl in front of me was muttering to herself, he let out a "I know we're almost there, come on, we can make it!  You've been motivating me through these last 2 kilometers.  I know we can do it together!"

"Yep!" I said "I know we can do this!  Almost there!"

Sure enough, we started to round the bend into the park.  The finish line was a little way out yet, but I could see it in the distance.

And then - awesomeness.  A group of high school girls saw me round the corner, and inspired by my costume, they all started fist pumping and yelling "USA!  USA!  USA!"  I think even other people in the crowd got excited and joined in...?

With the finish line less than 30 seconds in the distance, my yellow shirted partner says to me "Come on, let's do it!  Let's sprint it out!!"

To which I replied "I don't think I can, I've got nothing left in the tank."

He said "I don't care - come on!  Liberty before peace!"

And he stopped, waiving me through the mats to finish first. 

He promptly followed, high fived me for a good run, and disappeared into the crowd.

In the meantime, I was sweating up a storm and getting all sorts of random high fives from other runners in the finishers chute.  Apparently, my costume was getting me some attention once people realized I ran the whole 5K with the torch.  I even got asked to take a photo with someone else who had finished (I'm guessing well ahead of me, since she looked like an elite runner in her sports bra & shorts combo).  My husband took the scene in and laughed...

Eventually, I made my way to the snack area, where I opted to skip the muffin and settled for a banana, a cup of orange juice, and another bottle of water.  After, I hobbled back to my husband and started a sad half-limp to the car.  Yes - shame.  I was wearing an old, old, old pair of running shoes that should be retired.  But, I haven't broken in my new pair that I purchased after Waconia yet, so I was stuck.  That should speak to how little I have been running lately, though.  :-(

Once I got home, I relaxed for a few minutes on the couch and then headed for a shower... followed by the traditional post race t-shirt wearing.  Speaking of, the shirt was really nice this year.  Check it out:

And of course, beyond the t-shirt wearing, the even more traditional post race performance analysis began.


Surprisingly, despite my mind games, it appears that I kept a very smooth and even pace.  Although, I'm not sure how much I trust my report, since the elevation was definitely NOT anywhere near as challenging as the chart would lead you to believe.

Also surprising is the fact that I have hardly been running at all in the last month, and I was still able to keep a respectable pace.  Although 31:29 is nowhere near my PR, and is definitely not elite status, It is still almost 2 minutes faster than what I ran this course in 3 years prior.  When you further take into account I'm carrying a few extra pounds right now (ok, more like 10) and ran in costume with a torch, my time seems less and less shabby.

And as for the meat of the analysis per the race organizers:

     You finished 172nd out of 460 women (37%) and
     39th out of the 80 (48%) Women 30 - 39.

Well, hot dang.  I can not train, gain 10 pounds, and still come out above the 50th percentile in a random group of almost 500 women.  I'm not saying I'm glad to be where I am with my running right now... but given the circumstances, I'm ok with that result.

So I guess that's it.  That's the story of how race bib # 44, and yet another wacky workout costume, joined my collection. 

Here's to another race soon - which may be sooner than you'd expect!  Stay tuned...

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