First of all:
YEEEEEEAAAAAAAAH I RAN A RACE!
This was my first race since April 13th, when I raced 10 miles with a fractured tibia. (I didn’t actually know it was fractured until I went to the doctor two days later but I had a strong sense that something was Not Right before that race, and I hope that I’ve gotten smarter with my training in the intervening 7 months). As I’ve mentioned before, I wanted to run a few shorter races leading up to the 3M Half Marathon to help me track my progress and figure out goals for my track workouts. Back in April, “5K pace” meant approximately 7:00 min/mile. Spoiler alert: My pace yesterday was slower than that…but not as far off as I’d thought it would be.
Packet pickup was available on Wednesday night and on Thursday morning right before the race. I was originally going to get everything on Thursday morning since Cedar Park is about 25 minutes away and I didn’t feel like dealing with traffic on Wednesday night. However, the Gentleman suggested we get it done on Wednesday, which ended up being really helpful because I was able to see where I’d have to drive on Thursday morning. (I’m, ahem, a bit of a nervous driver on the highway and there’s a weird spot where you have to get off the highway and then back on in order to avoid a toll road).
I rewarded him for accompanying me on the drive with dinner from Phil’s Ice House. I had a delicious Balcones Chicken Jack sandwich but got a lame fruit cup instead of fries in the interest of keeping my stomach together on race day. (TMI? Whatever.)
I woke up around 6 AM, which felt absolutely luxurious after multiple 12 hour work days last week. I had some coffee and toast with peanut butter and banana, read the Internets, snuggled with the cat, and left the apartment around 7:45. There was zero traffic on the way to Cedar Park and the only issue I had was finding the entrance to the parking lot. There’s tons of parking at the stadium.
I warmed up with some slow jogging and then stood around trying to stay warm. (It was 45 and sunny– PERFECT running weather but not-so-perfect weather for standing around in shorts). I marveled at some of the silly hats and wished I’d worn the Gentleman’s turkey hat. (Hey, it would have helped me stay warm…).
The actual race
My goals for this race were to run hard and aim for a finish time under 24:00, i.e. under 7:45 pace. I definitely went out hard and put on the brakes when I saw 6:50 pace on my Garmin. After that, I tried to settle into an uncomfortable-but-not-impossible pace and not check my Garmin every 2 seconds. Given that the course was pretty flat with some small uphills and downhills, I probably could have kept my splits more consistent and, er, less positive.
Highlights of the race included being passed by a guy with a giant turkey on his head and an 11-year-old girl owning me in the last 0.25 miles. And also the fact that I was able to finish well under my 24:00 minute goal. Yeah, it’s true that in April I was able to run a 10K around this pace but I will happily take a sub-23:oo 5K finish after less than 2 months of actual running.
I also really, really liked this race. The Austin Turkey Trot apparently had over 20,000 people. As I discovered last year, the traffic and lack of parking and the sheer number of people packed onto the 5 mile course made it a less than pleasant race experience. The Cedar Park race is a lot newer (this was its second year) and it’s much, much smaller (about 400 people). There’s tons of parking and actual bathrooms at the stadium where the race starts and finishes. If I do a Turkey Trot next year, it will definitely be this one.
We did Thanksgiving with the Gentleman’s family (both sides), Skyped with my family for about an hour and a half, and then I fell asleep around 8 PM and slept for 11 hours. Not sure if it was the running or the food or the long work days but apparently I really needed to catch up on sleep! I am going to sleep so hard this weekend and it will be amazing.