Strawberry season has not quite sprung yet this year (long, cold, wintery spring is probably to blame), but the Marysville Strawberry Festival is rolling on anyway, starting with the Berry Run 5K this morning. (Doesn't that sound like a Chamber of Commerce blurb?)
Although there were no promises of strawberry shortcake (something that should be changed in future), I thought that the Berry Run sounded like a fun and easy way to start a Saturday morning. Plus I grew up in Marysville so it's kind of like going home. Except that I never ran a single race during all the years I lived there!
I have to say that I did not start this morning in the best of moods. Last night I had a strangely grumpy stomach which made me fear for today's race. This morning my stomach felt fine, but I wasn't so crazy about getting up early. Perhaps it was a "hangover" from the events of Friday the 13th. Let's review. I locked myself out of my house while running (10 miles, though!) and had to have my mom come let me in. Later, when I finally waltzed into work, my car got broken into while sitting on the street outside my office. Front passenger side window broken out and a bag containing magazines and my YMCA card stolen (but ha! at least the thieves will be disappointed at the lack of valuables). I have little hope that they will be apprehended (perhaps trying to steal my identity and get into the Y?) but maybe my card will be found discarded somewhere. (Also in the bag--a copy of O.K. magazine containing pictures of about 30 best shirtless male bods--lost! Darn it all!) By the time I contacted my insurance company and dropped the car off to be fixed, I was an hour late to court. Perhaps the stress contributed to my upset stomach later. Or maybe it was the three multiple shot lattes that I drank while dealing with the events of the day (one waiting to get into the house, one after the car prowl, and one, decaf, in the evening, for no particular reason).
Oh yes, and Tim Russert died yesterday. I spent the evening watching television coverage of his life and death. I can't even express how shocking and distressing this news was. Since at least the 2000 presidential election, I feel like he has been a significant part of our lives. How will this election year go on?
This morning I finally got up around 6:30 and threw on my clothes. My parents were picking me up at 7:00. I toasted an English muffin and spread it with chocolate peanut butter (a wonderful invention) and wrapped it in a paper towel to bring along. I ended up sharing it with my mother because I really didn't have an appetite. I even only drank a little bit of my latte (though I finished it later in the day).
The race started at the Smokey Point Plant Farm. Under most circumstance this would be a intriguing place for a race. Think of the shopping opportunities afterward! But today it was still cold and windy and I didn't have a lot of gardening motivation going on.
The organization was a little amateurish. For a small race, without a whole lot of participants, I had to stand in line quite a while to get my race number (even though I was pre-registered). And although I had originally planned a long warmup, both to get the mileage and to actually do a good warming up, I really only had time to jog around for a mile or so. (I'm just calling it .9 miles so I can make today a round 4 miles.)
Shortly before 8:30, we gathered for the start. There was no start banner, but apparently there was a starting line. The race director was a coach from a local school, and he actually had a starting gun which he shot off.
Last night I did take the time to put together a "New 5K Run List," so I pressed start on the ipod and took off. As usual, I couldn't tell if I was running well or poorly in beginning, as the faster runners whizzed past me. I was pretty sure there was still a crowd behind me too.
It was, at least, a completely flat route. It was also simple. We went down the road in one direction to the dead end, turned around and went the other direction to Twin Lakes Park; turned around again and came back, taking an out and back diversion down a side road, then back into the nursery, around the outside and finished in the greenhouse area.
In the first mile or so I was running steady with a young boy (I mean young). Then I left him behind. I passed a couple of women, and maybe a man or two, and eventually got passed myself by another man or two. I spent another period of time running alongside a young girl, who I was also able to pull ahead of eventually. (There were a lot of youngsters in this race, and other than these two, most of them were substantially ahead of me the whole time.)
My major competitor, I realized in the last mile, was another woman who was also in my age group (she had just turned 40 recently). While I was ahead of her for the first couple miles (and didn't even know she was behind me), somewhere around mile 2 she pulled ahead of me at a steady pace. From then on, catching up to her, and possibly passing her, became my primary goal. As hard as I tried (and I would say I tried moderately hard), I could not close the distance enough to pass her.
I did put on a nice kick at the end and crossed the finish line in good form. Unfortunately, my mother who was on the sidelines with the camera, missed my finishing shot when another runner (or someone on the side) blocked the camera view. (This required a later re-staging of the finish and we eventually, after a couple of takes, got a good shot.)
There was no finish clock and after I crossed the line I asked the girl with the stopwatch what my time was. She said 25:---- and I can't remember the seconds. I can't believe that my brain was such a sieve that it let the time escape! (I have an idea what it was though, and I'll explain in a bit.)
After the race I spent a few minutes talking to the woman who squeezed me out. This was her first 5K but she has been training to do a mini-triathlon this summer. I assured her that her time (of around 25 minutes) was very good. She was red, hot, and exhausted, but quite exhilarated from the race.
It was sometime after that that I forgot my time. All I wanted, at that point, was to get my final time and see if I won an age group ribbon (no anticipation, I didn't).
Unfortunately, it took a long time for them to tabulate the results. While waiting I did manage to collect a free tomato plant (and one each for my parents, because they said that everyone got a plant). (All will be planted in my garden, however.)
As I'm waiting, I gathered that there were a lot of track team participants here. When I eventually heard the race times of some of the young kids, I was transported back to high school and it was not a good feeling. This is where you feel like a loser if you run slower than a six to seven minute mile. This was somewhat reinforced when the male 40-49 winner was someone I went to school with (he was older than me though), and his wife and two daughters all won top prizes in their divisions as well.
So when they finally got to the women's awards, the gal who finished ahead of me got third in our age group. Before I left I went to look at the list of times to finalize my own time. This is where I decided they'd screwed up. The woman ahead of me had a time of 25:11. Okay. But then they had me at 25:12. I would like to believe that was my time, but I'm quite positive that I was more than one second behind her at the finish! There was nobody just ahead of me when I crossed the finish line. I'm thinking that it's more likely that they clicked the stopwatch an extra time after her. The next time on the list, 25:28, sounded like it might be right for me. If only I could remember what I heard right after the finish!
So I'm reluctantly claiming a time of 25:28. That would be an average pace of 8:13 per mile. It's frustrating not to know for sure. On the one hand, I am associated with a faster time that I can't bring myself to accept. On the other hand, if the faster time is not right, how do I know that this middling time is right either? Maybe I was 25:40 (the next one on the list)? I can console myself with the thought that since this wasn't chip timed, my "actual" time was probably a few seconds faster in either case. (I wasn't too far back in the start.) Either way it was a PR (as long as it wasn't 25:40, that is).
I know one thing for sure; it's obvious what my 5K goal must be. Break 25 minutes. Here's to the future! And future runs!
(Race picture to come in future.)