Lake Run 5K (3.15 miles)
Average Pace 9:39/mile
Shell Lake, WI's Lake Run is one of those races that sticks in my gills a little ... but in a good way. I say this because, four years ago I ran this race for the first time, and this happened:
Yeah, that's right. In 2011, placed 2nd in my age category. And I've been chasing the dream ever since. I mean, don't get me wrong. Running this race in 2012 and 2013 was fine and all. But I've been wanting to take home a medal ever since I got my first taste of it way back when.
Ok, ok - reality check time. Yes, I have not been training enough with my running this summer and can basically only pump out a 5K in 30-35 minutes. I knew well in advance of this race that a medal was definitely not in my cards. But a girl can dream, right?
Anyway, let's fast forward to race day.
Again for 2014, Shell Lake opened their race day festivities with overcast skies and misty weather. Not that they had any choice in the matter - ha! Unfortunately, it seems like every year I've run this race, the weather has been unpredictable and unseasonably cool. Kind of a bummer when you consider this race is held on what is basically the last "official" weekend of summer.
Hence why I was still wearing my warm-ups just minutes away from race start:
Yep, I picked a water themed shirt. Seemed appropriate given the name "Lake Run". Besides, you can't go wrong with a shirt that has a hidden skull on it (a personal favorite motif of mine, as you well know):
As if the race director knew the weather would be overcast, at check in race volunteers offered some sort of solace to us runners by handing us our race shirt, which was a nice sunny orange color:
Overall, I liked the shirt. The fabric was a nice, lightweight cotton. And I'm sure the locals will love the orange color come deer season in a few weeks. (But don't get me wrong, I do still pine for the performance shirts of years past... oh well.)
And ... this is the point in my blog where I have to apologize.
Sorry if this part gets boring, but aside from basically showing up pre race, there's not much else for me to discuss/entertain you with here in regards to pre-race activities. That's because this year I opted to arrive just in time to pick up my packet and have a potty break prior to race start - I've done this race enough times, so I knew that there was no point in arriving early to partake in pre-race festivities. Why? Well, to be blunt, there pretty much are none. (Boo.)
As the last few minutes ticked by pre-race, I basically spent my time queuing up and taking in the field. Unlike years previous, it seemed like the field of runners for 2014 had slimmed down quite a bit. I thought there were close to 150 people participating last year, rough estimating lead me to believe there were only about 50+ racers present at gun time (for the 5K, there was also a 9 mile option which was equally low on head count). Perhaps it was the overcast weather, or perhaps this race's popularity is starting to wane. Only time will tell which is to be held accountable.
The most exciting activity to happen before the gun fired was that all runners were directed to line up, facing opposite directions. (This was due to the course variations - 9 milers went the full loop around the lake, whereas 5K runners only went out and back on the last leg of the 9 mile course.) Once racers were in their "corrals", the national anthem was played on a trumpet. Then, as the last few notes sounded, the race director raised a cap gun in the air and ... Bang! We were off.
Knowing that I had no opportunity to medal, something changed for me on course this year. I think my heart just wasn't in this race. Don't get me wrong, I had a fine performance, but I wasn't LOVING every second of the run. In fact, quite the opposite, I was annoyed.
First, there was the boy in front of me who was basically running my exact pace and jumping in every puddle that crossed his path. Which, mid / post rain, meant quite a few puddles. I quickly tired of the constant back splash and sprinted around him to avoid the excess moisture.
Second, I forgot how long and desolate this course is. It's not well spectated (read - not at all), isn't particularly scenic, and doesn't offer much for lake views either. This became even more apparent for me this year, as I did not opt for music and ended up becoming more and more bored as the race went on.
Aside from a well managed water stop at the turn around point, overall this race left me feeling a little blah... I really don't recall much of anything worth reporting. The only thing I can say is that in the last 1/4 of a mile, there were three women ahead of me that could have been in my age category. So, as I turned the final corner and started the last straight stretch to the finish line, I decided to try to sprint and beat them to the finish.
At first, you can see my determination seemed to be working. I passed the two running together, and started gaining on the third (in the orange shirt).
But, forgetting that in addition to lack of distance training I also do not have SPEED training... I started to feel like I was going to puke and had to pull back. Although I had quite a lead on the two women, and almost caught the third, I started to lose my edge.
I did make it to the finish line, but I lost all my lead on my imaginary opponents and they beat me to it. Boo hoo hoo.
Either way, I was still quite pleased with a 30 minute finish time. Not too bad given I've been battling plantar's fasciitis AND not training as much as I should be.
Afterwards, to help me wind down post race, I wandered into the coffee shop at the finish line for a latte (yeah, I know, caffeine... but it was my only caffeinated coffee in over a month). While I enjoyed my drink, I decided to hang around a little to see the age placement awards.
I hate to say it, but the age placement awards ceremony made me even more disappointed in this race. Unlike years previous, this year there was only a medal offered to the first place runner in each age category. While I can understand wanting to do that from a cost perspective, to me it seemed that this change took away the one last thing that made this race fun. With top 3, I knew I'd at least have a chance to bring home a medal. With only 1st place... it's not likely that I will ever medal again.
With my goal of 2014 to register for more meaningful races, the above recap makes me realize - maybe this race isn't for me anymore? I need some time to think on it... let's see where 2015 takes me.
In the end, that's pretty much all to the story of how race bib # 49 joined my collection. Which means I'm almost to a big number - 50!! Here's to another race soon... let's hope it helps me celebrate 50 in style!