HEART & SOLE 5K, Feb. 10, 2007
Place in AG: 2/5
I was surprised that only about 250 people showed up to run this race. Could it be the -4 windchills? And I was glad this race was close by home, only about 10 minutes from my house, where probably 90% of the races in Grand Rapids are held. And I was glad Don went and picked up our packets Friday, meaning we could basically get to the race 15 min. before. Actually, we got there about a half hour ahead, but neither of us wanted to stand around outside, so we went in the high school. I noticed immediately something I have NEVER seen at a race: no lines in the women's bathroom! But then, when you see my opening sentence, it only made sense.
I had finally found my Yaktrax the night before and decided to put them on, since we were still having some light snow flurries that had greased up the streets some. In normal temperatures for this time of year, it would have just been wet. But with the cold, the little bit of snow cover only made it feel like grease. They worked perfectly, and I had quite a few people asking about them. I did see one other woman with them too. You absolutely can't feel a thing with them on other than more sure-footed. In fact, I started wondering if they were really working or whether I really needed them, since I didn't slip a bit.
The race started along one of the few in-city lakes we have, one where our local triathlon is held in September. Up until we went down to the start, the cold was tolerable. After all, I had on two pair of tights, a turtle neck, another long sleeved t-shirt over that, and my Gortex jacket. Then I had on my face mask (a true lifesaver!), headband, and two pair of gloves. Yep, I was ready for a sprint all right. Don asked me if I was going to wear all that stuff, and I said, I'd be wearing more if I could move with it on! And believe it or not, I saw 5 people with shorts. It was pretty cold waiting at the start, but fortunately they started on time. It was a chip start, but I still like to start my watch.
I think my legs were still feeling the effects of last week's "long" run on the treadmill, since I had felt tired all week, and then foolishly did a one hour spin class on Thursday, so I had no pep at all until probably half-way through the race, and then pep for me is relative.
I know this course like the back of my hand, probably having run it in one race or another over the past 19 years as well as dozens of training runs. They mix up the course once in a while, but this race has had the same course for at least 10 years. It is the only race that has ever been cancelled since I have been running, and that was because we had 60 mph winds. Go figure!
So off we go. I actually pass a few people before I even cross the mat and get some dirty looks, like I am some sort of speed demon or something. No, actually, its cold and I just want to get this thing over with.
Funny thing about the cold, I totally forgot about it once I got going. We start out passing the lake, turn off from there, and head up a long sloping hill, then down and around on the opposite side of the lake, which is all residential. Before I get to the first mile marker, the lead runners are already coming back, since it is an out and back course. I didn't even want to look at my watch. It was ridiculous to even think of someone being done already and here I was only getting started.
When it is colder like this, just like when it is hotter, I think your heart rate goes up, so I was trying to stay within a moderately hard breathing pattern, and was again thankful for the mask. I know it helped me not be gasping. About this time too, around the one mile mark, a woman passed me running and a short ways ahead started walking. Slow as I am, I still didn't want anyone passing me. So I was a little ticked that she came flying past me and then walked, and I couldn't catch her even then. And she looked like she might be in my age group. Back and forth we went. She would run and pass me, and then walk and I would pass her. Just before the turnaround, we had another hill. I actually made up some distance on her here because I continued to run and she walked. But damn, there was no way I was going to catch her unless I cranked it up, and at this point I wasn't willing to risk dying too soon. I was basically lifting my feet and putting them down. No pep.
Just before mile two, another woman in front of me, whom I wasn't catching either, finally stops and walks. Just like that. Okay, thank you, I think I will pass. But damn again, now I have to make sure she doesn't pass me again. That's always a dilemma, you know? Knowing this course is the only thing that totally saves me in these races. I know how far I have to go and when I can possibly start pushing myself, but it certainly wasn't going to be at mile 2. There was still another long steep hill to go up, and another long stretch of road before we even were going to be near the 3 mile mark, which today was pretty much my plan for attempting to pick up the pace.
I hadn't looked at my watch the whole time. I was concentrating on the run/walk woman in front of me, and I didn't want to risk being disappointed by seeing how slow I knew I was going. I knew I was running slower than my last race, I could feel it. I just knew. And then I heard the bells of a nearby church ring. They ring on the hour, I thought. That means it is 9:00. That means I've been out here 30 minutes already. Sigh. I am slower today. I still had more than a half mile to finish the race.
And then I saw Don running toward me. We had signed up as a couples team, so I figured he wondered whether his partner was ever going to finish. I pretty much figured he had run his usual 22 or 23 min. and was probably first in his age group. I was irritated to see him, since it broke my concentration, so I waved him away. He didn't say a word but just turned and ran slightly ahead of me. I was mad, because now I was going to HAVE to run faster than I really wanted to. :) I could hear a couple of people who had been behind me the whole way planning their final sprint strategy too, so I really had to get going. I felt like I wasn't moving. I had nothing. But I pushed ahead and started this stupid loud breathing weird noise. Then I saw the clock and saw it was already at 35 min. and I wasn't happy at all, but what are you going to do? I couldn't pass the run/walk woman, no way, but I also couldn't let the two behind me pass, so I couldn't let up either. They didn't pass me, and the race was over. Yeah!
As expected, Don did take first in his AG with 24:08. We were 11th out of 13 teams. Bleh.
They had a pretty low-key awards ceremony after: if you placed, go get a medal. How exciting. But I was glad to not have to stay around any longer, and wanted to get home. As I was peeling off all my layers after the race, Don said, no wonder you couldn't run any faster with those tights on. They were a hand-me-down pair from him that he said were too tight. They really were quite tight in the knees and calf area, and maybe that's why I felt so stiff running. And maybe why I was slower. Maybe. Or maybe it was just the blasted cold.