Stratton Faxon 5K Race Recap
After my race here in town was over, I was kind of itching to run a race since I hadn’t run that day. When I saw the Race4Chase team was going to be running at the Stratton Faxon 5K and Half Marathon, and that runners would be helping raise more money for their foundation, it just made sense. I talked to my two girlfriends and they were both interested in running too, so we signed up.
I’m also midway in my training plan to try and build speed in 5Ks, so this race seemed like a good time to check in on my progress.
With an estimated 1500+ people registered for the race, we knew we’d need to head down to the race site (at a beach on Long Island Sound) early. I was picking my friends up at 6:20 am to be sure we would have no trouble parking. As if I hadn’t learned this lesson a million times. Because I’m so paranoid, no matter what, I always am there ridiculously early and always get a good spot. Today was no exception. Thank goodness my girls were up for it.
But I don’t mind getting to a race early. I like soaking in all of the energy and excitement. And with the race being at the beach, the scenery was ideal. We checked in with the team, got our race stuff and settled in.
What is great about the Race4Chase organization is that you really feel a part of the cause. You check in at their tent, everyone is given a shirt to wear so that it’s easy to quantify who is running with the team, and then they talk to everyone about why these races are so meaningful. Each mile we were running was going to mean dollars in the coffers of the Chase Kowalski Foundation. It was inspiring to hear about all of the different efforts being done to “turn tragedy into triumph”. Plus, everyone is just so nice. Everyone involved is just sweet and kind and has a great spirit. It’s truly inspiring.
We posed for a big team photo before heading to the start line.
1500 people is definitely a big race. Cramming us all into the small entry way into the beach was a feat. We couldn’t even see where the start line was from where we were. But the race organizers were loud and clear on the speakers, so we knew when the race began. We slowly walked and then were able to jog up to the start. Finally, we crossed it.
Honestly, for me, it was all downhill from there. And not in the good way.
I don’t know if I set my sights too high, but I had a goal today. I wanted to go below 35 minutes. I thought it was possible based on my recent times in my training runs. This course was flat and where I train has hills. I started off strong, probably too strong. I thought I could just push myself through and keep my pace low. I weaved and bobbed through the crowd hoping that I could just maintain the sub 11 minute pace.
By the time I passed the first mile, I was struggling. I skipped the first water stop, not wanting to lose the time. The heat was starting to feel so hot (it was in the 70s and slightly humid). I felt OK during the shady portions of the run but really hot in the sunny areas. Still, when I crossed mile 2 I thought I would be ok. The clock was showing me 24 and change, but I knew it had taken nearly a minute to get to the start line, so I thought I could pull it off yet.
I walked through the next water station, struggling to drink the water because I was breathing so hard. I told myself to reset my pace or I was seriously going to have trouble. The heat really was starting to feel like a problem and I just could feel my motivation waning. I so wanted to PR the race, but I just felt so terrible at that point. I knew both of my friends were well ahead of me by this point, having lost sight of one right away and the second somewhere after mile 1. It was just as hot for them, what was wrong with me?
I slowed my pace, still thinking (based on what I now know was slightly erroneous information being gathered by satellites in my RunKeeper) that I had room to spare to at least PR the race (better than 35:35) if I couldn’t go below 35:00. I finally started to feel better when we hit the homestretch.
Which, unfortunately, was in full sunlight. I could feel it just baking me, I knew my face had to be bright red, and I slowed to a walk for a few seconds just to gain the final strength I needed to finish strong. I rallied and pushed through to the finish line, feeling absolutely terrible but still hoping for the best. My friends were waiting for me there, and we all gulped down water before heading back to the beach to see what we could find to eat or drink.
We eventually, after waiting for the crowds to thin, got some watermelon and juice before going back to the team tent and commiserating with everyone. Weren’t those people who were doing the 5K today as a warm-up for the half marathon tomorrow nuts? We caught our breaths, talked to team members as they came back, and eventually knew it was time to go. We gave sweaty hugs all around and left the gorgeous beach behind.
When I finally saw my final time online of 36:14, I was devastated. Not even remotely close to my goal for today. I tried so hard, trained for this, and I actually was SLOWER than my last 5K. Even if you took the 20 degree increase in temp from today over that day, it probably just accounts for the 18 seconds difference between the two. So what gives? I’ve been really doing my training runs, pushing myself doing speedwork, and RUNNING EVERY DAY FOR NEARLY A MONTH. Why am I not getting any better at this?
I had myself a lovely pity party for a bit until I had had enough. I didn’t run this race today to PR (although I wanted to). I didn’t run it to prove anything to myself or anyone else. I ran it to raise money for a foundation that honors a sweet little boy who was taken from this world too soon. I ran in camaraderie with those who cared for him, loved him, meant everything to him. And by that measure, I did everything I came to the beach today to do. I ran hard. I gave it my all. I prayed for him and all of those angels. I am lucky enough to be able to go out there and do this. Did it really matter that I wanted to be a minute faster than I was?
At the end of the day, it really doesn’t. I was lucky to be there. I was honored to be there. I was moved to be there.
The PR will come. I will keep at it and keep training and I will not let myself give up. Until then, I’m going to continue to do what I can to help these wonderful people make their vision become a reality. With every freaking slow step I take.