Race Report: Frigid Five Miler

Well, it’s much belated, but here it is – my Frigid Five Miler race report (Allison Park, January 9, 2011) –

This was a small local race which meant few crowds to pump us up, but a great, tight-knit feel, and the fact that there were volunteer-operated water stations when it the temps were in the teens and the wind chill in the single digits? Well, let’s just say I said “THANK YOU” a lot. So here we go:

Prerace:

Nerdy boyfriend (NB) and I got up at 6:30 a.m. (with much moaning and groaning from Mr. I-don’t-like-to-eat-before-a-run-fine-I’ll-have-some-oatmeal) and got right on to hydrating and fueling. We each had two packets of Trader Joe’s oatmeal with flax seed (my race morning favorite) and started layering and double checking that we had everything: bib number and safety pins, Clif shot blocks, change of clothes, iPods (charged), Garmin (just me), water bottle (also just me) and every other anal retentive thing I could think of. For once I didn’t pack the night before, which is very not like me, and I wish I had. Next time, I will. We’d registered the week of the race so it was all very random and haphazard. Next time I’ll plan ahead, even if I register days before the race.

NB’s friends Rob and Cas picked us up at 7:30 for the 25ish minute drive to the course. We were all bundled: Rob had done it last year and neglected gloves; apparently his hands were tingly for hours after the race. As we approached the start, we hit the hill that Rob had warned us about: over half a mile of a ridiculous, winding climb. Every time you think you’re almost there… it curves, and keep going. When we got to the top and saw the FINISH banner I said, “well! that was fun. Good race guys.” *sigh*

We parked way up near the start, and arrived in plenty of time to come in to the lodge and warm up. The race was at North Park, which I had never been to, but has lots of trails and nice digs. About twenty minutes later the race director/manager of Elite Runners & Walkers congratulated us all on arriving early, since some folks now faced walking up the gargantuan finishing hill since the course was now closed.

We chatted with some of Rob and Cas’s friends, and about fifteen minutes from the start, NB and I headed downstairs to grab some water to take with our shot blocks. I had put them in baggies to keep in my pocket for either during or after the race… in addition to extra vaseline and tissues. I looked rather lumpy, but decided to just deal.

A few minutes before the start, we headed down, staying inside as long as possible (it was chip timed, but we didn’t want to lose the pack either). We started decently far back, with Rob and Cas farther up (Rob is quick). The race director gave a pep talk and then – we were off! As we crossed the start, about 20 seconds into the race, I started my Garmin and off we went.

 

Starting the Garmin
I'm in the red, in the middle-ish, staring at my Garmin. NB is on my right, staring at his iPod

The Race:

 

Off we go
Off and running!

NB decided to stick with me for the first mile (I told him he didn’t have to). We took it conservatively. It started on a little uphill but then became more rolling. I knew there were some great downhills, but there were a couple uphills to match, even before the last half mile of the race. I was feeling good, though, setting a decent pace. At the mile one marker, NB and I wished each other luck, blew kisses and I watched him pick up the pace and zip through people.

I felt pretty good the first couple miles. I lost steam on the uphills but pushed through the pain was was pretty much at my goal half-marathon pace (about 8:45-9:15 mile). I was still getting over a cold – and was coughing a decent amount as well as needing to blow my nose pretty severely after the race (sorry, TMI) – in addition to my mileage dropping off during the holidays, and all the crappy unhealthy stuff I’d been eating, so I knew I wanted to take it easy. Around 3.25 miles, I was in some pain. I’m sad to admit it, but I took a walk break on an uphill. Honestly, I should’ve taken some shot blocks, because I was bonking a bit, but for some reason decided not to. I took one more short walk break before telling myself to just go, that I might have to walk a bit on that huge uphill, so why waste the time now? Talking to my friends after the race, apparently everyone was feeling it at about 3.25 miles for some reason.

The volunteers were great. Lots of kids out handing out cups of water. I had my handheld so I didn’t take any, but I gave a big “thank you for your hard work!” to the volunteers as well as the police officers that were controlling traffic and looking out for us when we got to a section opened up to traffic.

Then the hill came. It was even worse than I imagined as we drove up. It didn’t help that I was bonking, and still kind of sick, but I walked pretty quickly at the start. Then I pushed a little after chatting with a runner about how hard the hill was. Then I walked again. Then suddenly, two girls, trudging along together at a slow jog, said, “c’mon, you can do it!” tapping people’s shoulders as they went. One girl grabbed my shoulder and gave me a smile, then pulled me a bit. “C’mon!” So I did.

NB
Nerdy Boyfriend, finishing strong

I pushed. I didn’t try to go very fast, and it slowed down as I got up farther and farther. Near the top, I started wheezing, and thought of stopping, but that girl was still on my heels. I knew she wouldn’t let me … so I decided not to let myself. Just at the crest, about 200 feet from the finish line, there were Rob and NB, cheering me on. I kept on trucking, agony written clearly on my face, and the girl and I were stride for stride. I saw the finish line ahead of me and began to sprint (or as close to it as I could manage) and she said “c’mon! beat me!” and she had me by just a couple strides. The clock read around 48:30 and my garmin said 48:02 when I hit “stop” (official chip time was 48:03). I found the girl after exiting the corral and shook her hand, thanking her for pushing me to get up that damn hill, and for running a great race.

OH GOD IT HURTS
That's me back there in the red, looking incredibly attractive, and in so much pain
game face
This is my game face. Or something.
spent
This is my "I have nothing left so please give me pancakes" face

I was a little frustrated that the hill trashed my time (and I let it) and wished I’d hit “lap” at mile four, just to see, but I was still pretty happy, all things considered. It took a while for my breathing to regularize so I wasn’t wheezing, but I walked over to Rob and NB and stood with them to cheer on Cas, who finished strong.

Post-race:

We headed inside and Cas stretched while we stood in a winding line waiting for pancakes (!!!). I took some shot blocks for recovery (and gave some to NB) before we loaded up on water, hot chocolate (divine), pancakes with tons of syrup and butter, and bananas. Yummm. We hung out a bit before we started getting chilled, and headed back to the car. I almost forgot to return my chip – oops! That would’ve been an expensive error.

All in all, I had a blast. I’m planning on checking out more of the paths they have in this park over the next few months. Always good to have a change of scenery.

In other news, I went to spinning again today and felt like I was going to pass out at one point. I made it through, though. And it makes the idea of a six mile recovery run tomorrow seem like a cinch. Ha!

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I'm a 30-year-old writer and runner. This is my running blog.

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