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!!

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