|Wildflowers, Garden in the Woods|
I tried to ignore the fact that I was awake at 3:30am. My philosophy about not being able to sleep is that if I don’t acknowledge it, it’s not really happening. So I lay there, pretending to be asleep until around 5:30am when Lee’s alarm went off.
|Stump used as a mini pond and planter, Garden in the Woods|
It seemed a little dumb to be nervous about a 5K that I kept telling myself I was running JUST FOR FUN, but it didn’t seem to matter. I always get nervous before a race. God knows what I will feel like before the marathon. I’m already nervous about it; I hope I don’t have a heart attack the day before…
But back to the day of the 5K. Several things made this day different than the usual race day for me. For one thing, it had been a long time since I’d run a 5K, maybe 5 years. I started running longer races and 5K’s fell out of favor in my mind. I was challenged enough by longer distances, first adding 10Ks and then half marathons to my repetiore. But I was curious about how being a more fit runner would affect my ability to run faster in a shorter race. And marathon training can get to be a bit of a grind. I missed doing repeats, so adding a 5K to the mix would allow me to change things up a little in the weeks leading up to this race.
|Habitat Boxes, Garden in the Woods|
For another thing, this race was in the evening. The last time I ran an evening race was in Austin. It was 100 degrees outside, and the race was called “Keep Austin Weird”, so you get the picture. This one was in Manchester, New Hampshire and the temperatures were predicted to be in the low 70’s. With 6,000 people registered and a fast course, this would be a much different experience.
Finally, I wasn’t just running a race today. First I had to drive to The Garden in the Woods in Framingham Massachusetts and take a class on “Late Herbaceous Plants”. I just didn’t pay attention when I signed up for this class and didn’t realize that it was on the same day as the race. But I really wanted to take it…the title meant that it was about plants that bloom later in the summer, and I’m very interested in adding later blooming stuff to our yard. Besides, this would take my mind off my pre-race jitters.
|Joe Pye Weed and Goldenrod|
The class was very interesting. I took notes and I try to remember as the teacher showed us different plants that do well in New England and look nice this time of year. It was an early spring and the summer has been very dry, so some things bloomed earlier than normal. I can’t really figure out what’s normal around here though. Last year they got too much rain and it wasn’t very warm. This year has been dry and hot for them, although for us it has been heavenly. They think extreme heat is 90 degrees. After last summer in Austin, that’s NOTHING!
I had to leave the class a little early. I like to get to races at least an hour before the start, and since Boston traffic can be so awful I gave myself plenty of time to get there. I got there almost 2 hours early. That’s a little much but it gave me plenty of time to pick up my number , get oriented, and do my little warm-up routine.
Because this race was so big it was split into 3 waves. “Elite” runners that planned to run the race in less than 23 minutes, recreational runners that planned to run in less than 28 minutes, and “walkers”. I should have signed up for the walkers but my ego got in the way. Even though I always walk part of any race, I’m NOT a walker, I’m a runner! I lined up at the back of the recreational runners though, just in case.
|Shed with Rooftop Garden|
Off we went. I tried to see if I could maintain a 9:28 mpm pace. That was my predicted pace for the race. The first mile was a very slight uphill. I felt good, but 9:28 quickly became unrealistic. I was probably 15 seconds off that pace from the very start. The second mile, however, was either flat or downhill. I definitely had some good times in the second mile. By the third mile, however, I was tiring. I had planned to walk for 30 seconds after the first and second mile, but I didn’t really think about what to do the last 1.1 mile. I wasn’t about to walk right at the very end of the race, so I decided to take 15 second walk breaks at 2.5 and 2.75. That worked pretty well.
I got a little confused on the course. The course formed a rectangle in downtown Manchester and I thought we should be turning toward the finish line sooner than we did. It made me anxious. I also didn’t realize that the very last 10th of a mile was suddenly a pretty steep uphill! It was uncharacteristic of the rest of the race and really surprised me. If I run this race next year I’ll know what’s coming and can plan for it better.
I finished in 31 minutes, not my goal, but close. I had mixed feelings. I felt like I had run well, but was still a little disappointed in myself. If only I had held my pace a little better I might have made it. But when I got home I discovered that I had come in 24th out of 158 people in my age group. Now THAT made me happy. I’m usually in the middle of the pack in my age group, so to finish in the top 15% was pretty cool. And, since its only 2 years away, I looked at the top 10 finishers in the next age group, 60-64. If I was already 60 years old, I would have finished in the top 10! Cool.
I’m noticing something that is happening to me at the end of races though, that I need to do something about. I got really disoriented, confused and cranky at the end of the last two half marathons I’ve run. After this race I wasn’t disoriented or confused, but I was REALLY cranky. I think I need to have a strategy that involves eating something RIGHT after I finish, and maybe a plan of action that involves walking around (to prevent stiffness) while I’m snacking until I feel okay again. I practically slugged a little kid this time, grabbing a bottle of strawberry yogurt drink right out of his hand. Embarrassing.