This morning, the alarm clock went off at 5:45 am. But, like any other race morning I can remember I was awake at least 10 minutes beofre the alarm went off, attempting to will myself to sleep just a little bit more. After shutting off the alarm clock, I went through the race day morning ritual... race clothes, HR monitor and watch, Body Glide, deodorant, morning medicines, making sure I had my spibelt so I could stash a credit card, driver's license, cellphone and keys, fixing oatmeal and then I tried to put on my shoe tag.
How hard could a shoe tag be? This was our timing device and it showed a picture of how it needed to go and everything. Problem was I have yanks. Triathletes know what I'm talking about - elastic shoe laces that let you just slip your shoe on and off. Let's just say it made it a 5 minute adventure until I finally got things all settled and secured. Then it dawned on me that I should take Mr. Darcy's car instead of mine because that way I don't have to use the garage door and take the chance of waking the wee ones. So, it was into the garage to get my race tag and then out the front door (after gulping down my oatmeal and a big glass of water).
It was a rather odd sensation. I had no bike. No big bag of gear and stuff for transition. No goggles or swim cap. Just me, a pair of shoes on my feet, a race number and timing tag, and the spi belt. It felt like I was forgetting something - like everything I'd need for a race.
I got to Winter Park around 6:45 am and everyone was trying to find a parking spot. I'm not overly good at parallel parking, so I decided to take a chance and park in the Wachovia parking lot - despite seeing the sign that parking was for Wachovia patrons only and violators would be towed. I called Coach who said she was meeting some others at Panera on Park Avenue. Unfortunately, I never found Coach or the others because I headed the wrong direction down Park Avenue, but I ran into some lovely people I had met the other weekend and a very nice couple who I met through Team in Training. I couldn't run with any of them though - the nice couple was fast. He's attempting to qualify for the Boston Marathon and is just on the cusp of doing it. The others were either 8 minute milers (too fast), 14 minute milers (too slow), or speed walkers (I was wanting to run). I chatted with a very nice 14 minute miler until race start, and then as the gun went off we meandered forward a bit until we finally got to the starting line.
A few seconds before I hit the start line, I turned on my HR monitor and decided that I would do 5/1's because that's what I'd be doing in the Princess Half Marathon and with the shin splints, it would be a good idea. The first mile was, well, crowded. Usually being a back of the packer to begin with... but doing it triathlon style, I really am not used to seeing all those people. I passed some and was passed by others. I felt pretty good the first mile, and finished the 1st mile in around 11:50. Not the greatest, but weaving in and out of people was kind of new. Part way through Mile 2, my shin splints kicked in. I'm not sure if it was the compression sleeves I was wearing or if it was just that my shin splints are now full tilt, but it felt as though someone was stabbing me with a very large cleaver along my shin bone - in both legs.
At one point in Mile 2, the pain was so bad I wanted to just walk. But I convinced myself that I needed to run through the pain and that I was doing 5/1's already so I should think of the 1 minute walk as my reward for the 5 minute run. My legs were evil. I hit Mile 2 and heard a couple discussing whether they wanted to run 2/1's again or stick to their 3/1's. I invited them to join me for 5/1's, but they chatted with me a bit and decided they couldn't keep it up for 5 minutes straight. I would pass them and be passed by them the entire rest of the race.
If it hadn't been for my shin splints and the amazing amount of phlem that my body produced today, I think I would have really enjoyed the race... it was in a beautiful part of Winter Park with gorgeous homes and manicured lawns. I saw the scenery but just kept telling myself to keep going so the stabbing pain would be over earlier instead of later. I just focused on picking someone and trying to pass them. It generally worked, except with 2 women who hit Mile 3 and literally took off so fast that it made me wonder what the heck they were doing for Miles 1 & 2 when I was gaining on them the entire time. Rocket propulsion or something.
I didn't make my goal of 33:30, but with the sheer volume of the crowd and the insane leg pain, I'm cutting myself a break. I finished in 38:29. I was disappointed in my time, but Coach told me I shouldn't be - that she thought it was decent. She reminded me that the race was longer than just 3.1 miles and said that while it was purported to be 3.2 miles her Garmin said it was closer to 3.3 miles although not quite there. I looked it up online and it appears that it was abotu 3.285 miles. Which, if it was 3.285 miles would be an 11:42 average pace. And if it was 3.2 miles, it would be a 12:02 average pace. The calculations made me feel better, since that was at least a bit closer to what I had in mind when I thought 33:30 (11:10 per mile). And really that's not so bad since I did 5/1s the entire race and had someone stabbing my shins with a butcher knife for about 2 of the 3.2 miles.
The good thing too is that I felt great afterward. Like I could have kept going for a good long while, even with my shins attempting to mutiny and the strong desire to blow snot rockets but the inability to do so because there were just that many people around me and goodness knows I would have hit at least one of them. (My doctor finally called in my allergy medicine... but I couldn't pick it up until this morning, after the race. So it would not have been pretty and somehow I don't think the 5K crowd would have appreciated my snot rocketry. The tri crowd doesn't even really notice - unless you get hit that is.)
I have to admit I almost cried crossing the finish line. Not because it was an amazing feeling of accomplishment, but because there was a couple in their 70's who crossed the finish line in front of me holding hands. They looked so frail and it was like they were doing something together that was such a quest for them. I wanted to cry it was so beautiful. Of course, later I wanted to cry because a couple in their 70's crossed the finish line before I did... but then again, who knows when they started the race or how long they've been running.
I ran into someone I know from TNT after the race who is a well meaning person but who is a bit socially awkward. She told me, "You look great! You look like you've gotten to a comfortable weight for yourself!" I took this to mean that I looked like I had lost weight, but now I'm wondering whether it meant that I looked comfy like old baggy sweatpants instead of being smaller. I'm chosing to take it as a compliment though... I think.
I kind of liked the road race, but I think I like longer distances better. Some people are the energizer bunny, I'm more like the Tortoise in the Tortoise and the Hare. Slow but steady and I can end up outlasting some of those Hares out there. My performance wasn't too shabby, even if I didn't meet my goal, which may have been a bit lofty now that I use the calculator and see that I would have had to have around 10:12 or 10:30 pace per mile and other than speedwork, I haven't been hitting that pace at all.
So there you have it. My first official 5.2K without a swim and a bike before it. 38:29.