Saturday, February 12, 2011

Feelin' groovy

If I was on a real computer, I'd insert a groovy YouTube song clip here. What, you don't know that song? You weren't even born in the late sixties?* Bah.

Anyhow, I'm feeling pretty groovy today. At least I was this morning. The storm that's rolling in now makes me feel less so.

But this morning I took another step toward getting my speedy running legs back, with a not-PR-but-not-bad-at-all time of 25:26 in the Valentine's Day Dash 5K at Green Lake. I really think I would have been under 25 (or close) except that the beginning was crowded and slow for a bit. Luckily they had us seed ourself by pace, otherwise it would have been much worse. I heard that there were about 3000 participants.

The course circles Green Lake (which is, fortuitously, about three miles around), part on the road and part on the lake path. It is quite flat. There are a few minor inclines but it's not significant at all.

I arrived before 8 am and got a great parking space near the starting area. That was luckily because it allowed me to easily go back and forth to my car. The race didn't start until 9:30. But with checking in, using the bathroom a few times, and doing an extended warm-up, I didn't spend a whole lot of time just waiting.

I like to do a 3-mile loop around the lake to warm up. But I was a little nervous about taking too much time and getting stuck on the opposite side of the lake when the race was about to start. So I ran about 1.25 miles out, then turned around and came back. This allowed me 15 minutes before the start to stand in the porta potty lines, which I needed even though it was the third time!

I decided to stand in the 8-9 minute pace area, somewhere in the middle. In retrospect, I could have stood in the back of 7-8 and not been out of place...oh well.

(Oh dear, the lights keep flickering and I hear a windy downpour outside. This better pass before my long run tomorrow!)

Despite the change in weather later in the day, it was cool but dry (and not too windy) at the start. The sun even came out a little bit! I wondered if I should have worn my sunglasses...but nah, wasn't an issue.

Even with the seeding, it was crowded and pretty slow at the beginning. Once we all managed to pick up the pace, I saw numbers on my Garmin that I haven't seen in a long time...beginning with sevens. Consistently!

My first mile was about 8:02. I am sure if I'd been able to take off without delay, I would have had about 7:45.

I would like to say I kept up the sub-8 pace, but I did not. The next mile found my pace flickering between about 7:45 and 8:15...maybe a little more toward the latter than the former. I felt pretty good though, and part of the slowing happened when I got behind people going a little slower than me and I couldn't pass immediately. During the second half of mile 1 and at least half of mile 2 we were on the lake path, which is not narrow but is lesas roomy than the road. Plus non-racing walkers and runners were still using the right hand lane on the path.

I found myself passing a few people and yes, getting passed as well. Nothing dramatic either way. The only passer I remember specifically was a man with a dog. I thought, "I can't get passed by the dog!" but of course I could. In fact I'm sure the dog could EASILY outrun me--he was barely loping along. But that would not be the last time I saw them....

I was so happy that I was running a near 8-minute pace with ease. (Not that I could necessarily have run any faster, though!) Mile 2 was about 8:06. When we got into the third mile, though, it began to require significantly more effort to sustain the pace. I told myself, only ten more .1 mile segments (well, 11 to the finish), and started picking out landmark to run to. Along the way I passed the man and the of them had begun to lag a bit. It could have been the dog...after all, dogs are better at short sprints than distances. Mile 3 - 8:08.

When I passed the 3-mile sign (the mile-markers were in hearts, how cute), I dug deep to pick up the pace for the final stretch. I don't think I dug deep enough, because the last segment (.16 mile on my watch) was at a 7:57 pace. I could have been a little faster. (And I wasn't near the puke threshhold...a clear sign that I had more to give. That I didn't give.)

Not 27 seconds faster, though, and that's what it would have taken to finish under 25 minutes. My final chip time was 25:26, 1:36 slower than my PR, but I think it was my second fastest time in this particular 5K (last year was 24-something).

And it was SO much faster than I had feared it could be (almost two minutes faster than my disastrous Halloween 5K in Monroe last fall). It really boosts my confidence and makes me feel like my comeback efforts are working. I genuinely believe that the next 5K I run could be under 25 minutes!**

After I finished I stood around the finish area for a bit and spotted my HS and FB friend, super-runner Annie V, finish with her newbie runner boyfriend. Their time was 26-something, which is great. I hate how fast boys (men) can be even when they're not accomplished runners! Annie herself is spectacular, she did the New York marathon last fall in 3:45!

After a long chat (I was in my post-run hyper state), they went on their way and I forced myself to do 1.5 miles to push my total for the day over seven miles (7.26 to be exact). That was at an 11-minute pace...I am useless at running after a race, no matter how long or short.

By the time I finished that, the stalls and vendors had started to pack up to leave and all I scored was a bottle of water. Plus the wind had come up dramatically and things were getting blown around and knocked over! The kiddy race was just about to start and I felt sorry the weather was so bad. Hopefully the kids wouldn't get blown away!

I headed back to my car and decided to stop at Starbucks for another Americano and a scone. I really debated on the scone since it had more calories than the 5K burned...but I decided not to be obsessive and go ahead with the scone. I enjoyed it.

I am so thankful that the weather was good for the run because it has been dreadful the rest of the day! I am optimistic about tomorrow, app shows a sun icon! I really don't want to do 14-15 miles in a windstorm.

*Lest you think I am REALLY old, I was just barely born when Simon & Garfunkel did Feelin' Groovy, but obviously it was around into the groovin' seventies as well.
**Although, a caveat, the next 5K I might run is the day after a 30K, so anything could happen!
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