Hi Internet! I know it’s been awhile. I meant to pop in here earlier to discuss my graduation from physical therapy and my training for the upcoming Austin 10/20 and Statesman 10K races. Work got really crazy over the past few weeks. I haven’t had to work any extra long days (yet…) but I’ve spent more time than usual running around and putting out fires (figuratively– I’m not a firefighter!). The crazy days plus a small increase in speed workouts has left me way too exhausted to do much in the evenings besides eating dinner and going to bed. I haven’t even had a beer in over a week!
After my last mess of a 5K I checked around online for other 5K races this spring. I want redemption, dammit! I ended up signing up for two more races: The ACC (Austin Community College) Fairway 5K and the Daisy 5K in May, which is one of the races I had to skip last year due to my stress fracture.
The ACC Fairway 5K is a new race benefitting scholarships at Austin Community College. There wasn’t very much information about the course online except that it was held on a golf course. Also, this:
Note: Cross Country 5K and 1K route is on rugged and tough terrain. Rain or shine event. You might encounter mud along the trail; be prepared to run on a hilly, rocky and uneven terrain. Course is not stroller friendly. No dogs allowed.
Intriguing! I hadn’t run a trail race since high school cross country, which would have been…
10? 14 years ago. Obviously this would not be a PR-friendly course but I figured it would be a good workout and an opportunity to work on my 5K pacing.
There was light rain this morning with temperatures in the mid-30s, which is how it’s been for the past few days. While I find these conditions far more friendly for cat naps than trail racing, I’ll still take cold and rain over Texas summers. I spent the first 25 years of my life in Pennsylvania and Connecticut, after all.
Getting to the race was an easy drive for me, and there was ample parking on the ACC campus. Finding the race start was a bit more complicated since you had to cut through a wooded area over to the golf course behind the parking lot. There were no signs directing participants to the start, so a bunch of people just stood around until one of the race organizers was like “Oh yeah…the start’s that way.”
Once I found the start I did a short warm up and then tried to keep moving by jumping around, etc. until the race started since it was so cold. From the start line it was not entirely clear where we were supposed to run since all we could see was a large expanse of golf course but one of the race directors assured us that there were lots of flags and volunteers around to show us where to go.
The first mile was a lot of up and down on uneven terrain. Per my Garmin, I got through mile 1 in 7:40, which is a lot slower than my goal 5K pace but seemed appropriate given the conditions. Also, I was feeling good– didn’t go out too fast, yay!– and was pretty sure the only two women in front of me weren’t that far ahead. There were periodic Post-It sized “flags” on the course but I wasn’t really paying attention to them and just followed the people in front of me.
At this point we were running on pavement, so I was able to pick up my pace to about 7:20. I saw the two women ahead of me stop and look around and start jogging. “Maybe they went out too fast,” I thought. “Now I might be able to pass them and VICTORY WILL BE MINE!”
But then the women stopped again…as did several other people in front of me. “Where is the course?” said someone. “Well…there are some people running over there. Let’s go that way.”
So we went “that way”. At some point my Garmin ticked off mile 2 at 7:30 but the mile 2 sign on the course wasn’t anywhere in sight. When I finally passed a mile 2 sign my Garmin had me at 2.65 miles.
Pacing myself after this was essentially impossible since I had no idea if there were 1.1 miles or 5 miles between the 2 mile sign I passed and the finish line. I just tried to maintain a hard effort and hold off a guy who’d been running with me for most of the race (spoiler: he beat me by a few seconds). Eventually I spotted the finish line and finished in 28:45…for 3.77 miles. (I quit looking at my Garmin once I realized how much extra mileage I’d run but apparently mile 3 was 7:45 and the last 0.77 was 5:49 or 7:32 pace).
This, by the way, is what my run looked like:
I don’t want to whine and moan too much about a small charity 5K with some very friendly people. (I had a nice time chatting at the finish line with some of the other runners who went off course). I think what irked me was the fact that the race director seemed really clueless and nonchalant about the course problems. I showed him the distance on my Garmin and several other people also mentioned running way more than 3.1 miles. At one point the overall female winner was a 60 year old woman who’d apparently quit the 5K walk early and crossed the finish line after 20 minutes, and the race director didn’t even realize this until some of the runners pointed out that there hadn’t been a super speedy 60 year woman out there. And it was irritating to be told that there were flags and volunteers and a clearly marked course. Sorry, but if you design a race course with tons of loops like the above picture, you need more guidance than some tiny, barely visible flags scattered around. Also, everyone except the first 3 men finished in over 25 minutes, with a gap of over 5 minutes between 3rd and 4th place, likely due to the fastest runners having a golf cart leading them all the way. That to me indicates that a lot of runners went off course and maybe things weren’t as clearly marked as anticipated. Obviously, none of this is particularly meaningful at the end of the day but I wish we could have gotten an apology or some sort of acknowledgement that they messed up.
This was far from a redemption race for me since, per the official race results, I’ve set a new personal worse for the 5K distance. Hopefully the Daisy 5K in May will be finally give me a decent 5K time in 2015. Until then, I’m going to keep focusing on a possible PR at Austin 10/20 this month. Also breakfast tacos.