Sunday, September 22, 2013

Perspective - a 5K Race Report

 I came into this race hoping to get my first sub-20 in 17 years. Last year I got close with a 20:06. Twice! And last month I managed a 20:16. With lots of speed work, I was hoping this one would be the one.

The race was called Alive and Running, and was a fundraiser for Suicide Prevention. There were probably 1,000 people there and most of them were walkers/fundraisers. There were many quilts on display with names of people who had died from suicide. And a lot of participants wore the name of someone they knew who had died of suicide. Yet it was somehow also very upbeat, and a celebration of life.

I joined in for a little pre-race exercise:
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And here I was doing more heel drops to stretch out my calves and achilles. My sore heels were definitely better after three days off. I am optimistic. Also, I just like this photo for artistic value.
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Warming up I didn't feel too great. But that's normal. I hoped race day magic would wipe that out once the gun went off.

I got out fine, ahead of the mob. But a photographer decided to squat 10 yards from the start, in the middle of the road, and just stay there after the start. I nearly ran into him, and I would be amazed if nobody else hit him. First check of G was about 6:05, so I eased off a little. Better than last time though!
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The course was straight out and back, but there were some small gradual hills that were enough to suck the life out of you. I was at 6:15 after 1/2 mile, and thought I was maintaining that, but a long uphill had me at 6:36 after mile 1. Already slower than I wanted, and now I needed to pick it up. But my body was not having it.

I thought a little downhill felt fast and I would make it up, but it was short-lived and then we had more up and a hard u-turn. Mid way through mile 2 I was at 6:45 pace, and I knew my sub-20 dreams were over. Because I felt like cr@p - more like quitting than accelerating. But I tried to hold on. I finally caught a guy running with two miniature poodles (!!!) because I just couldn't let him beat me. After that it was a pretty thin field and I was just maintaining. Finished mile 2 in 6:45.

It was hard to keep pushing, when I knew I couldn't get sub-20. Pain sucks, after all, so why was I doing this again? But I wanted to at least get sub-21. And simple pride made me keep going and staying near my maximum pain threshold. But the lactic acid was building. And I had to run straight into the rising sun for the whole last mile.

Mile 3 was tough. One guy passed me, but then I stayed near him, and just managed to catch him at the end, so that kept me going. Mile 3 was 6:50. I saw the finish clock closing in on 21 and spent whatever I had left at the end to get a 5:59 pace for the last .14. Official time 20:59.

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I was bummed. Not even close to what I hoped for. But DW seemed very excited to see me come in so soon. (Not too many great runners showed up). I finished 38th overall and got a 3rd in my AG, so there's that.

Then as I regained my breath, and walked through the tents I saw all the suicide victims on the quilts. And it gave me some perspective (and my blog title). And I thought of a girl I passed in mile 1 (see above photo) who had a name on the back of her shirt for someone she cared about. And I heard a story about a girl walking whose brother just killed himself last month. Yeah, it wasn't the day I had hoped for. But I am Alive and Running! And enjoying a beautiful sunny day! I have my health, my mental health, a great wife and family, a steady job and financial security. Life is good! So I was really not too upset about the race.

We hung out with some friends. This is me with my club rival Jim, who won his 55-59 AG, and Leslie Cohen who won her 55-59 AG and got 2nd overall female with 22:xx. She is a mini-celeb here who has her own race and running club named after her.
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And then I collected my medal. Even though the girls handing them out thought it was red for 1st, white for 2nd and blue for 3rd. I protested once, and then took my blue ribbon medal!
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There's a smile. Life is good. Enjoy it.

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