Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Fat Ass 5K

The Fat Ass 5K.  Yes, that is a for real name of a 5K race held here in Springfield, Illinois.  Not only is it called the Fat Ass 5K, but the aid stops provide donut holes, corn dogs, beer and ice cream!  There's is also a detour about a quarter mile into the race that heads right into a bar.  The race starts at 10:00 a.m., and it seems a little early to head to the bars, but that's besides the point I guess. 

We got a late start this morning.  Well, it feels like it, but not really.  We leave the house and show up a little early to wait for Shane's mom to meet us so she could take Jocelyn during the race.  Somehow in the early-late start, I forget the Gatorade and the GPS watch.  I remember it right about the time it's too late to go back and get it.  I am SO mad at myself when I realize that I don't have the GPS! 

I would consider using my iPhone like last week, but it's raining.  I don't want to risk messing up my phone with moisture.  It has been raining for nearly 24 hours straight. There is a big, green blob on the weather radar just circling over Springfield. It hasn't moved much, and it doesn't look like it is going anywhere soon!  The temperature is in the 50's. So, it's wet and cold for race conditions.

By the time we get downtown, there are a bunch of streets blocked off for the race route.  We aren't exactly sure how to get closer to the starting line, and start time is getting closer.  We decide to park at Shane's office and use the distance between there and the race as a warm-up.  It is only 5-6 blocks away.

As we approach the starting line area, we see just how big the crowd of participants were.  It is huge even though the race is a "fun run" and the weather is just bad for a mid-May weekend.  Much of the proceeds go to charity, so I'm glad that people are out here having fun for a good cause.  There are some serious looking runners here, but there are also many people in crazy costumes and outfits. 

We move up to the front of the starting line and wait for the start.  Here and there, we stop to talk to people we know in the crowd.  I look around for the start and finish mats for the electronic timing chips and I don't see it.  I'm just confused.  I noticed when we were doing the warm-up runs that there was one down the street around the corner.  So why are we starting here?  I just really don't get it.

After the National Anthem, some warm up exercises, we are off!

The surge of people move down the street and around the corner.  Like many of these races there are little kids that are going all out down the street.  It's nearly shoulder to shoulder as we take the first turn.  I see Shane up ahead of me.  I know he was shooting for a 7:30 pace, so I'm not trying to keep up with him.  I'm running blind on my pace and trying to listen to my breathing an use my body signals to tell me if my pace is good or not.  It's so hard to judge your own pace when your are moving in a sea of people.  Starting line adrenaline is a crazy thing that tricks your senses.

We round the first corner and cross the blue chip sensor--start/finish line?  I'm still confused.  I'm bumping into people at each corner.  I'm passing some and others are passing me.  We run by the first aid station.  This one is serving beer.  I pass, but there are already people stopping for a beer.

We head down 7th Street, past the Irish bagpipes.  As we turn the corner on Jackson, we approach another aid station.  This one is offering donut holes.  Ick.  Even though I would normally love one of those glazed balls of sugar and fried dough, it does not sound good right now!  I keep on moving, already seeing an aftermath of dropped donuts across the course.  I wonder if they are slippery on the street in the rain.  I'll just avoid stepping on one, just in case.  Amazingly, Shane is still in my sights, however, we have not even passed mile marker 1.

I'm pretty sure I zoned out for a while.  I remember passing corn dogs, Elvis, several bands, and clowns.  Different aid stations were holding out cups of something, but since I didn't know for sure what it was, and I didn't take anything.  It's a short race, I can skip hydration even though I forgot to bring anything that would actually hydrate me.

I keep picking runners to pace with.  I am tempted to ask someone with a GPS watch on about our pace, but I decide to not do it.  I'm looking at it as an experiment.  How much different will I run if I don't know my pace?  I feel a strain on my legs and occasionally my lungs, but overall I'm feeling strong.  However, I feel unfocused without the GPS.  I find myself letting people pass me and not thinking twice about it.  I'm not really running with a plan.  With a GPS, my pace is my plan.  Without it, I'm somewhat lost.

As we near the final stretch of the second lap, I wonder if my legs will take a sprint at the finish.  I start planning the point to kick it up a notch.  I'm assuming the end will be down the street and around the corner from where we actually started--the blue mat we ran over in the first quarter mile. 

As I run past the place we started the race, I notice some runners going straight (to where I think the finish line is) and others turning earlier onto Adams.  What's going on?  Where am I supposed to go?  I look around and there's nothing and no one marking the turn for us.  I look down Adams Street a little and I see a double blue mat across the street and a timing clock.  That must be the finish line, I guess? 

Still not confident, I turn right--running right into another runner trying to go straight.  She looks at me and asks, "Are we supposed to turn here?"  I reply that I have no idea, but I'm going this way.  I cross the finish line a little confused, and a little disappointed that I never got a chance to really kick it into high gear.  I probably wasted a lot of time trying to figure out the end of the course.  I vaguely remember the timing clock saying 25:09 or something like that when I crossed.

The race ending was anti-climactic considering I thought I still had another 10th of a mile or so to go.  I never even saw a mile 3 sign.  It was kind of a bummer end to the race.  

I looked around and found Shane.  His watch said 24 minutes and some seconds, but he wasn't sure where the race actually began either.  Did he start his watch too soon?  Should it have been started when we crossed that first blue timing line down around the corner.  Really we have no clue.  What we do know is that in these types of races, you almost always get a better time than what it says on the timing clock.  If so, then there's great chance that I could have finished under 25 minutes!  That would be amazing!  Since there's no awards ceremony that we know of, we don't wait around for race results.  We'll get them online later.

It was an interesting adventure--running without a GPS.  I really, really didn't like it!  I can't complain too much though, I have a new PR.  I don't think I'll try this little experiment again.  I felt like I was running blind.  The stress of not having it probably used more oxygen that I could have used.

We jog back to the car in the never-ending rain.  Shane takes a race photo of me, and I take one of him.  We don't get to have one together because there's no one around to take the picture.  Oh well, next time.

The next day, when we pull race results, we're pretty bummed--and annoyed.  My official time was actually MORE than the finish line timer said.  It was 25:15 (8:07/mile pace).  Close, but still six seconds more.  I also noticed that someone I know for sure who WALKED the race showed up as finishing in 6th place!  I wonder how many other walkers crossed the finish line after the first lap and pushed me down the list? 

I finished the 19th female (even though I know it was actually 18th or higher).  I was pretty proud of that.  My next 5K goal is under 25 minutes!  I can do it, I know I can!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

IAMM Fun Run 5K

Pre-warning:  This race was somewhat uneventful.  The blog entry is a little dry.  I do not believe it is representative of our entire blog.  Please check out some other entries if this one bores you to death!

On somewhat short notice, we decided to run the International Assist Medical Missions (IAMM) fun run 5K on May 7th.  A friend of ours is very active in the mission organization, and it was definitely for a good cause.  We registered this week, and then I didn't think much else about it.

As I pointed out in my previous post, I have been SLACKING off terribly!  This week I ran the most miles since the LPHM--7 whole miles!  Woo-hoo!  Hold me back, or I'll hurt myself, right?  Four miles Monday.  Three miles on Wednesday.  That's it.  This makes me a little worried about how today will go.  This is a wake up call that I better get my butt in gear if I want to be ready for my first full race season!

We got to the park in Rochester, and everything was really laid back.  There were a few people milling about, but mostly it looked like walkers.  We thought, maybe we even had a chance to win this thing...until the kid in the running tank and shorts showed up.  He looked like he was in uniform ready for a cross country meet.  We'll see what happens when the race starts, but I have a feeling he'll do well.

I didn't do much today to prep for the race.  Didn't eat any special meals last night.  Actually, I ate badly last night.  Wendy's cheeseburger and fries.  Oops!  I get to do it sometimes, right?  Nothing special this morning for breakfast.  Drank a little Gatorade before the race and that was about it.  Nice pre-race preparation.

Fifteen minutes before the race begins, we take a warm-up lap around the park.  My legs are feeling a bit tired and not quite awake yet.  Shake out the cobwebs!  I forgot to borrow my dad's GPS watch from him, so I'm using the GPS running application in my iPhone called RunKeeper.  I hope it keeps accurate time.  I would like to be aware of my pace as we go.  I hate not knowing!

We head back to the pavilion.  They briefly explain the course route and we head up to the road to the starting line.  Ready-set-go!  The handful of runners, me included, move out in front.  In the lead is the kid I mentioned before.  No shocker.  A few guys get ahead of me, and I'm running side-by-side with Stacey, a friend of ours.

My RunKeeper tells me my first mile is done, 8:20 pace.  I'm feeling a burst of energy, and I begin pulling ahead of Stacey.  I hope I'm not making a bad decision for moving ahead so early.  I feel good right now though, so I better take advantage of it while I can.  Next up is the guy in orange.  He's still a little ways ahead of me, so I take my time catching him. 

Right about the time we are turning on to the bike trail, I'm even with him.  I run along side of him for a while, and then I decide to move forward.  At this point, I know we are not even half way done.  I couldn't look down at my watch (because I didn't have one! GRRR!) to see what I was pacing.  It was so much harder to check my time on the iPhone.  Mental note to self:  NEVER ever forget the GPS watch again!  Again, I am just hoping I'm not doing too much too soon.  It keeps popping into my head (ah, my self-doubting voice appears to be back). Please don't burn out legs!

Next, ahead of me was Drew, Shane's friend.  I slowly close the gap on him, then I pass.  I'm still feeling good, and another pumping song has just kicked in on my iPhone: Aerials by System of a Down.  That always gets me moving!  We finish mile two, my phone tells me my pace is 8:24. At least I'm consistent. 

Now, there's not too many others in front of me.  I think it's just the cross country kid and Shane.  Could I be the first female?  Is that even possible?!  I get really excited for a second as I daydream about finishing as top female runner.  As I approach the turn-around right after mile two, I could see the leaders.  The cross country kid is running with a teenage girl.  I'm not the first female, but I'm thrilled that a girl is doing so well!  Awesome for her!  Then I pass Shane with a high-five.

Just a little less than a mile left.  I hit the turn-around and face all the runners who are just behind me.  The guy in orange stayed with me and has passed Drew.  He's not too far behind me.  I imagine him creeping there and passing me in the end.  I hope to not let that happen.  Right now, I'm running fourth place.  I'm liking that!

We break out of the bike trail trees and head back into the park.  I don't see Shane anywhere which is odd.  Where did they go?  I am now running across an open field with the wind pushing me back all in my face, and the sun has gotten HOT!  I don't like this.  I keep chugging along, but my legs are starting to protest now.  I can feel myself slowing.  I need a good tune, but not coming up with anything as I skip around on songs on the iPhone.  I can't mess with this.  I need to pay attention.  Whatever, let's just get this over with. I let the music just play.  Mile three, my phone annouces, with a 8:48.  Slowed down there.  I think I'm running out of steam.

Just then, I notice that people are running over from the pavilion pointing down the road, they look a little panicked.  I think that we are supposed to turn and go across this parking lot, but I'm not totally sure.  Is that what they are trying to tell me?  To turn here?  I turn around and ask the guy in orange.  They said earlier that he mapped out the course.  He nods.  I turn and there's just this parking lot and a small stretch of road between me and the finish.  My legs are fighting me now, but once I know I'm almost done, I always seem to pull on strength I didn't know I had.

Across the parking lot, I turn onto the road--the final stretch--probably less than 400 meters.  I see the end, the finish line.  I pick up my pace, but my usual sprint isn't there.  I'm going faster than my previous race pace, but this is not my normal sprint.  I really think I did too much for too little training, but I'm still going to give it all I've got!  I cross the finish line and look down at my phone to stop it.  It says 25:56 by the time I slide the screen lock over.  So, I don't know how accurate it is, but close enough to still be a new PR for me!  My last official 5K was 26:40 back in November.  Yay!

So, I placed 4th place overall, 2nd place female.  It was fun to run (and actually place), even if it was a very small fun run.  It gives me confidence to do better!  Train better!  Hopefully, I will do as well on the Fat Ass 5K next weekend.  They'll have timing chips, so we'll have more accurate times.  I'll also remember to bring the GPS.

My legs are mad at me.  Mostly my calves are cramping and telling me that if I run like this again without training, they are going to kill me!  I believe them too.  No substitute for good training.  Gotta do it!  Until next week--and the Fat Ass!  See ya then!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Okay, so I've ran about as many miles since the half marathon as I did during the half marathon!  I am such a post-race slacker!  I even signed up for the Fat Ass 5K on May 14th to keep me motivated to keep moving.  I was hoping to train for a new 5K PR for that race, but my stellar weekly mileage in the past five weeks is probably not going to allow that to happen.  Whatever.  Paid my money, I'll run as best as I can, and get a new t-shirt.

If you've never heard of the Fat Ass 5K, it is something to behold.  The aid stations include beer, corn dogs, ice cream and donuts.  Quite a spectacle.  You may also take the detour which goes straight into a local bar.  Some people run it just for fun, but obviously there are still people who run it win.  It should be a fun first 5K of the race season.  I'll save my PR for later in the year.

I have had troubles getting my butt out the door to run.  The weather has been rainy.  I've had a lot going on.  Busy with work.  Busy with home.  Would you like to hear all of my excuses, or are those enough?  I know.  No excuses.  My weekly mileage hasn't exceeded three miles for five weeks.  Disgraceful.

Yesterday, I had no excuses.  The weather was nice.  There was no reason to not run.  I laced up headed out the door and ran.  At first, I thought another three miler.  However, I was feeling great at 1.5, so I decided to do four.  It was a good run.  I was maintaining a good "easy run" training pace.  After the four miles, I felt amazing. 

This is probably just what I needed to get back on track.  Get moving!!