Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Race Report: Howl at the Moon 5K

Ah, the 5K.  So NOT my favorite kind of race... but there's a certain appeal to running a 5K at night, and since I ran it and won my age group last year I felt like I needed to go back and defend my title. :)

I was really curious to see how well I could do.  I ran it last year just as I was beginning my marathon training cycle and after a summer of very little running.  This year I'd been running consistently since February and in marathon training mode since June.  Even though I do little training that would help with getting super speedy on a 5K, I knew that all the running I've done should help me improve my time from last year.

I had set a few goals... I wanted to run faster than I did last year.

I wanted to win my age group again, though I knew I'd be pleased if I could just place in it.

I wanted to break 25:00, which meant shaving off 55 seconds from last year's time.

Last year I kind of ran it just for fun and just happened to win my age group (seriously, go read the report - I was shocked).  Because I wasn't taking it too seriously, I had eaten at a pizza buffet a few hours before the race.

A creature of habit (I wear the same pair of panties for every race), I decided to go back and eat at the same pizza buffet before this year's race... I even had 3 glasses of Dr. Pepper (you can't eat pizza without having a coke!)

A pizza buffet probably isn't the smartest pre-race meal, but it seems to be working for me.

I got to the race and found a really long run for the pre-registered runners check in table.  It appears that they weren't quite prepared to handle the crowd, and I was a little displeased to see that one of the two volunteers helping check people in was talking on his cell phone and not actually checking anyone in.  I think they could have used a few extra people to help with checking us all in.

Me waiting in line to get my packet

The race had gone up $5 this year.  I found this a little disappointing, but since the goody bags had so much awesome stuff in them last year I didn't complain.  Unfortunately, it was a few freebie coupons shorter than it was last year.  It's not a big deal or anything, and I know that places aren't really wanting to give things away right now.  But still...  It wouldn't be a good race report if I didn't share all my likes and dislikes.

The shirt was again awesome, a long-sleeved grey t-shirt with the cool wolf howling at the moon logo for the race.  I did find a coupon for a 1/2 price Sonic drink and another for a free game of bowling.

There was plenty of time to hit up the bathrooms one last time before the race start and attempt to make sure I had emptied all of the Dr. Pepper.  I headed to the start line a little nervous since I actually had some big goals for the race, and I wasn't sure if I could accomplish them.

Since this is a very small race in a very small city, there's no chip timing.  I knew that I needed to line up close to the start if I wanted to make sure I had a chance at placing in my age group, so I pushed toward the front (something I NEVER do).  

I felt kind of odd being way up there... I wondered if people thought I might be really fast or something.  You know how it is... I was totally scoping people out and trying to figure out who might be in my age group and wondering how fast they ran.  I can't help but wonder if others do that to me.  And it's so foreign to me to be anywhere near the front of the pack, so it feels kind of awkward.

Anyways, the gun fired and I was off.  I managed to get across the start line in 4 seconds.

It's a little blurry since it's hard to take photos at night, but I'm in the pale blue on the right.

I turned on my perfect playlist and quickly decided on a strategy.  Typically, I like to stay strong and steady in an attempt to run fairly consistent splits.  However, I felt like this wouldn't work well for me in this particular case.

So what did I do?  Probably the least recommended strategy.  I went out fast and decided I'd just go balls to the wall for as long as I could and hope that I didn't fade as bad as possible.

Plus, there's a very gradual descent on the way out, which means there's a very gradual ascent on the way back.  I figured it'd be better to go faster while running downhill to make up for slowing down some on the uphill.

I hit the first mile in 7:25.

"7:25!?!" my brain screamed at me. "Holy cannoli!"

I knew I couldn't maintain that pace.  Hell, I didn't even know I could run a mile that fast!  I eased back a little.  

As we got closer to the turnaround point, I felt someone pass me.  When I realized it was a man, I didn't mind as much.  I knew there were 2 girls ahead of me who looked like they could be about my age (it's SO hard to tell) so I was trying to keep them in my sight.

I grabbed a cup of water and walked for all of 8 seconds so that I could get a sip and pour some on my back.  The sun may have gone down, but it was still incredibly hot and humid.

I hit mile 2 at 15:30.  We all know I'm incapable of doing math most of the time, but I realized quickly that this meant an 8:05 second mile.  

"Ok, so that's more comfortable, but dang girl... who the heck do you think you are?"

I had been keeping a woman who I knew was a few age brackets older than me in my sights, and I soon passed her along with a handful of men.  I felt like I was barely moving, but yet I was passing people on the uphill return!

I honestly wanted to die about this time, but I knew that I just had to run through three intersections and I'd be at the home stretch.  I focused on the stop light off in the distance where I would turn and listened to my awesome music.

As I reached the turn to head to the finish, I caught up with the 2 girls in front of me.  I knew I might have to work hard to beat them, especially since I knew I had little kick left in me and they might not feel the same way.

I eased past them.  I eased past another guy.  I made one last turn and knew I just had that blasted .1 to run to the finish line.

I tried picking it up even more, but I doubt I was going any faster.

I could see the red digits on the clock.  It was deceptively closer than it really was... As I inched closer, I started coughing.

"Oh dear Lord, please don't let me see that pizza again.  Not in front of all these spectators."

I'm sure all those spectators were saying the same thing.  I know that I probably looked like I was about to toss my cookies.  I actually felt a couple of tears in my eyes because I really did want to pass out or something.

Kicking it in to the finish

As I got closer, I saw that the clock still said 24.  

"I'm going to do it! {cough, cough} I'm going to break 25!"

I crossed the line, stopped my watch and found that I had run a 24:40.  This was a full 1:14 faster than last year's time, and a new 5K PR for me (in my adult years).

The guy tore off the number on my bib, asking me if I was ok.  All I could do was nod and hope that he got out of my way quickly because I still felt I might throw up.

(I don't think the pizza had much to do with this feeling.  I think it was more of the whole running faster than I have in years combined with the heat and humidity thing.)

I spent a little time trying to catch my breath before grabbing some ice cold water and an ice cold washcloth (I love when they give you those at a hot race!)

I headed over to the post-race food to find pizza (ha, I was going to pass on eating that again) and bananas.  I was a little disappointed that they didn't have watermelon like last year, so I grabbed some PowerAde and tried to cool off some more.

They started calling numbers for door prizes.  I never win these things, so imagine my surprise when they called out my number! I won a $15 gift card to RoadID.com (too bad I already have one, but I can always regift, yes?) and a free Chick-Fil-A sandwich (yum!).  So in the end, I certainly got back my entry fee.

I was pretty pleased with my time and at that point knew I'd go home happy even if I didn't win an age group award.  

It turned out that there were 24 girls in my age group.  I still can't believe none of them were faster than me.  I also placed 51 out of all 233 people participating.  DANG!  Unfortunately, they don't show how you placed out of your gender (which is lame) so I haven't figured out yet where I placed in terms of women, but my parents seemed to think there were only 10 or so in front of me.  Cool!

It's kind of funny... I found that when I was got home I was just as pumped up on adrenaline as I am after a really good first date with a hot guy.  I know that could sound pathetic, but I don't mean it that way... I am not the least bit interested in anyone right now (although should a nice hot guy come along I can change that faster than I ran this 5K), so running in some ways kind of is my boyfriend for the time being.

Although - there was a really cute guy who smiled at me after the race, and I totally smiled back and almost walked over to say hello.  Then this other girl (one I passed in the race) joined him and never left his side.  Oh well.  I at least had that first place trophy to take home with me! Haha.


Running and living said...

COngrats, this is awesome! At this point I get the puking feeling at every short race I do; heck, I get it almost weefly at the track. Makes me feel proud I push hard enough! Congrats again! Ana-Maria

aron said...

AMAZING job girl!!! you did so awesome!! 5ks are not fun lol but you totally rocked that one!

Amy said...

Yay!!! That's awesome! Congrats on the PR and the AG win!!!

Rachel H. said...

Awesome race! I'm SO impressed!!

Heather said...

Congrats on the 5K PR! That's a huge PR.

Nicole said...

GREAT JOB MEL!!! I'm so PROUD of you! Thats an amazing time! Way to go!!!!! Night time running=PR! :) Told ya! :) :) :)

Alisa said...


J said...

Congrats! that is such a great improvement and PR and also great job on winning your age group!! Such a great accomplishment!! You will have to continue to defend your title now! Love the night running - wish we had a race like that here!

Chic Runner said...

That's really cool about winning. AGAIN! :) Great job and that first mile, seriously! you were speeding along! You totally rocked that, and 5ks are killer!

Paul said...

Awesome effort and superb result. And a wonderful race report too! Well done. Maybe next time try running without a watch. You might be amazed at how fast you can run if you don't know your times. Cheers, PB

The Northerner said...


Niki said...

Wow girl! You totally rocked it!! Great job:)

Cindy said...

Great race, Melanie! I agree, it's not my favorite race (5K). I usually do them because most of my friends that run are 5k runners and it's a chance for us to run together. Anyway, awesome job!

Mark said...

Congratulations!! Really good race report!

Sarah said...

Sweet! You will have a whole trophy collection before you know it.