I had big plans once again this year to run the 15 mile Charleston Distance Run. But once again, "stuff" happened and I wasn't able to train the way I needed to to cover the distance or the dreaded Capitol Punishment Hill (I've also heard it called "the Hill of Death"). So I signed up for the 5k again this year.
I had no motivation or discipline on the running/physical activity front in August. Except for the Komen walk, I didn't do much - I skipped runs, I skipped strength workouts. I justified it by saying my body was worn out from the walk. Sounded good, but wasn't exactly true. I was just being lazy.
I went into the 5k yesterday with a ridiculously optimistic goal of finishing in 29:30. That comes out to an average pace of about 9 1/2 minutes per mile. A pace I think I managed to come close to on only two one-mile runs since my run streak ended on July 4. I wanted to push myself and see what I could make my body do. I wanted the race to feel hard.
I got what I wanted. It was hard out there.
Saturday morning at 6:45am, the weather app on my phone said it was 75 degrees with 97% humidity. Can we say "sauna"? It was pretty nasty - the air was soupy and steamy. Thankfully it was cloudy, so there was no hot sun to have to deal with too.
I lined up at the start, not realizing that I was too far back and had some walkers around me that I would have to worm my way around once the cannon went off. It was past the mile 1 mark when I finally cleared the crowds and felt like I had some room. I checked my watch at mile 1 and saw that my pace was slower than I needed for my goal. Which caused me to take off faster than I could really handle. By the time I reached a water station, I had to slow down to walk and gulp down the lovely cup of ice water I was given. I usually don't stop for water in a 5k, but this time I was way too hot, totally soaked with sweat, and needed that drink.
Once I was done with the water, I started running again, at what might be considered a "comfortably hard" pace. I pretty sure at this point my goal was toast, but I thought I might be able to manage a course PR and beat last year's time. It wasn't long before "comfortably hard" became "hard hard" and I had to walk again (goshdarnit - i hate walking in a 5k!) for a few seconds. I started running again. But walked again at the next water station where I just kind of blindly grabbed a cup.
I started drinking and realized I had yellow gatorade (lemonade? what flavor is yellow gatorade anyway?). Whatever flavor it is, a past bad experience with stuff causes me to feel sick everytime I drink it. Needless to say, i usually don't drink it. I was running again but the gatorade started doing it's evil work. I had to slow down and take freqent walk breaks so I wouldn't throw it back up.
In the midst of all the slow downs and the walking, I had given up looking at my pace and just concentrated on the mileage and how much farther I had to go. I knew I was slower than I had wanted to be, but didn't want to know just how slow. I was pretty miserable and just wanted to be done. But I did tell myself that no matter what, once I entered Laidley Field there would be no walking... (the street leading up to it was another story, but once I went through that gate it was running all the way.)
So I ran around the track, on the inside lane to make it the shortest route to the finish that I could. I heard them announce my name (they pronounced it right!), which gave me a teeny bit of a kick to push for the finish a bit faster, but there was no sprinting to pass the people in front of me. I rounded the last corner and saw the time on the clock, and felt slightly disappointed to see that I was over 30 minutes (by almost a minute). I stopped my garmin at 31:29. My official time is listed at 31:28. 2 minutes slower than my goal, and about 1 minute slower than last year.
I'm slightly disappointed that I didn't meet my goal or beat last year's time. But at the same time, I'm surprised my time was as "fast" as it was, given the way I felt and how much I thought I walked. From what I've heard from other runners and read in the paper, the heat/humidity took a toll on everyone. Even the winners were slower than they expected due to the conditions.