Sunday, March 9, 2008
Chipmunk 5k for ALS Race Report
The forecast the night before the race was not promising. Heavy rain and wind were expected. Argh.
Still, it was a 5K, right? It only would last a little over 20 minutes. How bad could heavy rain for that amount of time be? (Don't answer that.)
The truth is I was motivated to run this little race for two reasons:
1. It is a 5k. The only other racing option I had this weekend was a 5 Miler. I really wasn't feeling up for 5 miles. 3.1--much more appealing--and I had to race because it was on the schedule. (Never disobey the schedule.)
2. I thought the competition might be less fierce at this race than the 5 miler. I figured right. The Chipmunk 5K for ALS was put on by high school students, and the majority of its participants were, unsurprisingly, students, and the parents of said students. I figured, vainly, that I might win it. Here, alas, I figured wrong.
Back to the night before. I packed about a million different running outfits to be sure I had what I needed given the forecast--and also given that the forecast is nearly always wrong. This packing process took a long time. Andy was extremely annoyed at my need to have everything match. In his mind only losers match their running clothing. Humph. Well, he's not a chick. What does he know?
The next morning I left the house too late. The kids wanted this or that, and I was already feeling guilty about leaving on a Saturday morning so I kept giving into their demands until I finally got totally freaked out that I could possibly miss the opportunity to warm up, or worse, miss the opportunity to get the all important coffee, so I took off. I got my usually DD coffee and my egg and cheese on an English (no sausage this time--not enough time to digest that) and set out. Upton is a good 50 minutes away from where I live. It's very rural and pretty, but the drive out there left a lot to be desired. It was rainy, foggy, muddy and well--March. Just depressing. Still, I listened to my novel (Dark Angels, Kathleen Koen), drank my Java and was at peace.
It took me awhile to find the Nipmuc Middle School. This was okay with me since it was raining and cold and I really didn't want to get out of the toasty car. I finally reluctantly found it.
I got my number and visited the bathroom a few times. The cafeteria (were registration was held) was full of high school boys and girls and their parents. I saw very few road racing types. Good, I thought. Very good.
I went to warm up and the rain, previously pounding like you wouldn't believe, let up. Very good again! As I ran I kept my eyes peeled for my competition. I spotted two potentially dangerous women. Rats.
At around 9:55 I headed out to the starting line. There was only one person there. What? The race was supposed to start in five minutes! The lone person was one of the women I had seen running during my warm up.
"Where is everyone?" I asked.
"They don't want to get cold and wet," she answered.
"Um, right. But this is a race," I continued. "Where's the race director?"
"He's inside too," she said.
Oh shit. This could be bad. Maybe this race was a little too rural and non-competitve?
I made small talk with the runner woman for a little while and tried to figure out who she might be. The details:
From R.I. Ran this race last year. Just coming off a foot injury. Not running Boston.
"What are you planning to run for a time?" she asked.
AhHa! So she was checking out the competition too! Should I tell her the truth, or freak her out with some outrageous time I could never really get? It is, after all, a little brazen to go right out and ask...
"About 21," I said, deciding on the honest approach.
"Oh, great,"she replied, relief clearly visible on her face.
Fuck. I wonder how fast she is. I won't ask. She wants me to ask. Bitch.
We chatted more. She has teenagers at home. Okay, so at least she isn't in my age group.
A few minutes later another woman, also clearly a runner, ran up the hill. I got her chatting too.
Then the brazen woman (woman number 1) asked this new woman what she's planning on doing for a time.
"About 21," replied the new woman.
Finally, at about 10 past 10, a large mass of people began walking up the hill to the starting line. A few cops appeared in their Upton police cars. The race director walked to the front of the crowd. The crowd was small--maybe 70 or 80 total--but still this guy couldn't command their attention. He shouted something and then smiled and went to the side. All of the high school boys crowded the front line. I chatted it up with two 13-years-old boys who by no means looked 13 (more like 10), but I didn't tell them this. I DID tell them they better not beat me, or they'd hurt my old lady's feelings. They seemed unmoved and unimpressed, and clearly hoped, for the sake of their fragile, underclassmen reputations, that I stop talking to them and shut the fuck up. sigh.
Whatever, I thought. Little shits. I'm gonna kick your pre-pubescent asses! (Not that I'm competitive or anything.)
The ineffective race director suddenly shouted "GO!" and I jumped. Then, after a moment, I figured out what was going on and began to run. The two runner women leaped out in front. So did the 13-year-old boys, and every other high school boy for that matter. I tried not to panic.
I began sucking wind immediately. This, I suddenly knew, was going to be PAINFUL. Races are always painful, of course, but 5ks really hurt, and I always forget this until I'm in the midst of one.
Mile 1: 6:40. Cool. Not too bad. But I was tired. Way too tired. 2.1 more miles seemed like an awful lot. I slowed. I began to get that "who cares" feeling. The two women were far, far ahead. They were still in sight, but basically uncatchable given my current level of fatigue and pain. Fuck.
But then something fabulous happened. All of the high school boys began to slow. I began picking them off not one by one, but in large groups. As I passed each one I could feel each trying to stay with me, then, after a few moments, giving up and letting me go. Little shits. Ha!
Mile 2: 7:14. Okay. That's lame. I could run faster! I was feeling energized now. In pain and legs burning, but still energized. Maybe this race wasn't all lost. Maybe I would snag 3rd. Maybe I could pick off a few more of these h.s. boys. I charged on.
With about .5 to go I passed two boys who really didn't want me to pass them. They stayed with me, let me go, then re-passed me. This happened a few times. Finally, they were toast. I sailed ahead in glory. I hit mile 3: 6:50. Only .1 to go.
With about 200 yards to the end I began my kick. I felt strong. I wasn't going to PR, but I would place. Then those two evil boys I had passed earlier sprinted by me. I hate that! Little shits.
I finished in 21:19, about 6:52 pace. I was 2nd in my AG (20-39) and I was the 4th woman. Turns out there was a h.s. girl ahead of me too, but I didn't know it. I don't begrudge her placing, though. I'm psyched she beat so many of those h.s. boys. And still, you gotta love the small, rural 5k. I placed well even though I didn't run my best race.
The woman with teenagers at home won it in 18 something. The h.s. girl did a low 19. Woman #2 broke 20 by a few seconds. I did beat the two 13 year-old boys.