Run the Inferno 5K (3.15 miles)
Average Pace 10:46/mile
I'm a planner at heart. This means that normally, I register for races months in advance. Or, if not months in advance, at least a few weeks ahead of time. (Ever since my feet have been a little iffy, I've been more touch and go with early race registrations).
Given the above, the fact that I decided to register for this race at the latest possible second of online registration - Thursday before gun time - was quite unusual for me. So of course, it's just my luck that I register for a race less than 48 hours away, and the perfectly warm and comfortable weather immediately changes into a blustery ice bath the next day.
A temperature drop of almost 30 degrees in less than 48 hours?! *Sigh.* At least, as you can see above, it stopped raining before gun time. I guess there's that. Moving on ...
As I've mentioned a handful of times on this blog, my in-laws own a cabin near Siren, Wisconsin. And as I've also mentioned, I really like small town races - not only because they're more affordable (for runners), but also because the field of runners is smaller, so my chances of actually placing in my age group are much higher. Add to the mix that this is a fire themed race, and I already own a fire workout dress for teaching my post Thanksgiving Turkey Burner class, and you can see that running this race was really a no brainer for me.
Well, it was a no brainer until I saw the $35 late registration price tag ... for the 5K distance.
That was a little higher than I would have expected for a small town race. I suppose that higher entry fee was because you could walk away with this post race:
Yep, that's a long sleeve performance T.
Which reminds me. You'll notice I titled this blog "Run the Inferno", but my shirt above says "Run the Spark". Online, this race series is called "Run the Inferno", despite the fact that it offers three different races with three different names: a 19 miler (the Inferno), a half marathon (the Blaze), and a 5K (the Spark). Since the entire series is called "Run the Inferno" online, and I want people to be able to Google this blog and find the recap easier, I decided to title this blog per the series name rather than the distance I participated in.
Also, a little commentary regarding this whole naming concept: while I think it's cute to name each distance something like they did, it would make more sense from a shirt purchasing perspective to do what most big races do - combine their print run all into one shirt design. Not only would it save race organizers money on printing and allow them to get a higher quality printed shirt (as this year's shirt was a little grainy), combining the print run would also allow them to advertise all three races on their shirts and attract a wider audience in the future.
What I'm suggesting is that the design look something like this in the future:
I don't think making this change would be a big deal from a participant perspective, either, as I doubt anyone would care if their shirt listed all three races. The distances runners would be the only ones who might care, and they couldn't really complain since they got additional swag anyway. So, it's not like they aren't getting their own little something-something to set them apart.
Well, wait. I take that back. Now that I think of it, I overheard a girl in the 5K race talking about how she said screw it to the higher registration fee for the half marathon when she found out they didn't even get a finisher's medal. So it must be that only the 19 milers were guaranteed a finishers medal. That, and a chance at winning a top finishers prize - $300 to 1st, $200 to 2nd and $100 to 3rd.
So! Maybe what I'm ACTUALLY saying is that race organizers should change the shirt to the above revised design, give anyone doing the half or greater a guaranteed finishers medal to encourage folks to step up from the 5K, and then do the grand prizes as mentioned above to entice people to step up from the half to the 19 miler.
Yeah, that seems to make sense to me. If I were king, anyway.
Regardless, I'm WAY off topic here. Ugh. Well, why not take it a step further. Because shinny things. And we are raccoons. Or something.
Yes, that's the swag table. There were crystal trophies for the top three men and women in the half, crystal trophies for 2nd and 3rd place men and women in the 19 miler, and in case you didn't notice those things in the center, check this out:
Bronze firemen for top male and female finisher in the 19 miler.
That has seriously got to be the coolest winner's trophy I've ever seen!! And I should know - I've run close to 75 races now.
When you consider all the above swag, and the fact that this is perfectly timed as a practice race for anyone training for Grandma's Marathon in June ... well, let's just say I hope they can grow this race in 2016!
OK, enough sidebar. Let's get back on topic. Race day.
Since it was a pretty cold and breezy day, I was in no hurry to get to the race early - it would just mean standing around in the wind and freezing my tail off. As such, I decided to budget just enough time to stroll up to race start at 7:25, pick up my packet before the 7:30 cut off, and then huddle with the crowd until gun time. (Although the 5K wasn't scheduled to start until 8:15, the 19 miler had a gun time of 7:30. I guess they decided to close packet pickup at 7:30 to encourage everyone to watch the 19 milers start their run ... ?)
Knowing all this, my 7:25 arrival time seems logical, no?
Well, here's the flaw.
Notice how it doesn't specify on the race website where packet pickup is?
Yeah. I figured out the hard way, at 7:27 no less, that packet pickup was about 6 blocks away at the local hockey arena. And my husband had driven off to go get a coffee.
With three minutes left until packet pickup closed, I was wishing HARD that I would have remembered that part. (Later, my husband oh so politely pointed out that I should have known this because when he fished around the website, he did find reference to the hockey rink packet pickup ... which you could only find if you left the official race website and clicked on the registration link that took you to Midwest Events to register for the event. I oh so politely responded to his information by saying that no one clicks on a registration link for a race they are already registered for when there is a tab on the official website titled "Race Information". Ah, fun times.)
As you can tell, there was a wee bit of drama and angst rolled up to this entire snafu, which included a combination of me doing a full on sprint towards the hockey arena for about a quarter of a mile and my husband finding me in the car and rushing me to packet pickup.
Yes, I was the last one to show up for my bib. And yes, I also had some other emotions balled into that entire situation that made me melt down once I got back into the car. No, I'm not ashamed to admit that. Let's just say that the last year has been really challenging for me, and with some other major family stuff also going on right now, I'm just emotionally worn out.
Needless to say, when the 8:15 5K gun time finally came up, I was already exhausted. But out of sheer spite, I refused to cave. So despite my less than stellar mood at the start line, I found myself talking to ... well, myself. And quite tartly, in fact:
"Fuck this shit. I don't give a damn if I haven't been training to run for the last 6+ months, and maybe I do have some plantars fasciitis issues, and emotional issues, and it's fucking cold and I don't want to be here. At all. But FUCK EVERYBODY!!! I am going to run this whole stupid race."
And so, I walked up to the start line with an extremely small group:
Checked out the fire trucks that flanked the start:
And when the trucks blasted their sirens to signal the start of the race, I took off running. And I never stopped.
Honestly, in close to a year, I have not been pace training at all. I have no idea how I managed to run this race at a sub 11 minute pace over a 3+ mile distance.
Maybe it was my angry energy.
Maybe it was the fact that I brought tunes along to distract me.
Maybe it was the cold, gusty air that kept the bugs down and me from overheating, or even the fact that the wind kept shifting and forcing my exhaled air up to my sunglasses to unevenly fog a single sunglass lens each time ... like a pirate with an eye patch ... which kept my focus away from other things like paying attention to how my run was going.
It could have even been the out and back course design, which I typically hate but sort of secretly love because it means I know what the last half of the course is going to feel like and how to pace myself accordingly.
Whatever it was, I started out at my goal pace of about 11+ minutes per mile, and somehow each time I glanced at my GPS watch after the half way point, the pace per mile number kept getting smaller.
And somewhere in that last half mile, I just felt my running mojo come home. My stride opened up, and for the first time in almost a year, running actually felt ... good. Maybe even great.
So imagine my surprise when I pulled around the final corner of the course and saw a 32 on the clock in the distance. Knowing my secret goal was to finish sub 34 (essentially an 11 minute mile pace with a little wiggle room), I was thrilled.
I even briefly debated the final distance, how quickly I could sprint it, and weather or not I could get a 32 something as a final time. But I realized that would just be dumb. That, and it would very likely induce vomiting. So I kept a steady pace, smiled for the cameras, and stomped on the mat as the fire engines tooted and the announcer called out my name.
Boom. Another race on the books.
Needing a little cool down time, and frankly wanting to be alone for a bit, I wandered off into Veteran's Park. There I decided to take a fun selfie, despite profusely sweating:
I also quite enjoyed the name on the tank:
Oh, and I found someone else who was dressed equally as festive:
And yes, I did stay around long enough to take in the 5K awards ceremony. Unfortunately, though, I was one person too slow in my age category and did not walk away with an award:
Oh well. I was just as happy to come home to this instead:
Sheesh! You'd think he was the one who just raced, not me.
Speaking of sleeping, I don't know if it's because my feet are slowly getting better (which I'm hesitant to admit because last time I did I regressed) or what ... but the next morning, I woke up with absolutely no foot pain. I got right out of bed and walked without any issue.
Let's hope that this is a good sign for my return to running some time this summer.
And that's the story of how race bib #56 joined my collection - here's to another race soon! Did you know ... it's set for next weekend already?!