CES 5K Race Recap
I approached yesterday’s 5K with a a healthy dose of optimism and trepidation. On the one hand, I have been training for the 5K distance to improve speed since late August, so I knew I’d be prepared for it. On the other hand, I haven’t run a timed race for two months, which is one of the longest stretches I’ve gone. I wasn’t sure what to expect.
This race wasn’t on my radar, but through my work on our local Board of Education, I am involved with this local educational services group, which provides special education and school readiness services to students in all of SW CT. I’ve gotten to know the director a little because he runs, and I run, and we keep running into each other (pun intended) at races. Of course he is about 14 minutes faster than me on a 5K, but still. We both appreciate what it takes to roll out of bed early on a Saturday or Sunday and lace up.
The weather was beautiful, in the forties and clear blue skies. I got to the race site, a park right on Long Island Sound (I know, you’re shocked) and marveled at how perfect the weather was. I had high hopes.
I chatted a bit with the director about the course, which he promised was the flattest he’d ever run. Awesome! He also told me that the signups were lower than they’d like, less than a hundred going into the morning. I was shocked. This is the seventh year of this race, I am not sure why it hasn’t taken off. I’d actually met with him and his team this summer to talk about growing their race, but unfortunately the woman at the head of it resigned suddenly a few weeks ago. Too bad, because you simply couldn’t beat the location.
The park features one of the Sandy Ground playgrounds. For those not from CT, you may not realize that an organization called Where Angels Play, which consists mostly of local fire and police, took on a mission of creating memorial playgrounds for each of the Sandy Hook victims in areas ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. The events, as you recall, took place just over a month apart and hit this area hard. The playgrounds are a sign of hope and optimism out of two very real disasters. Seaside Park in Bridgeport features the playground dedicated to Josephine Gay. I snapped a few pictures and felt heavy in my heart about the latest school shooting just the day before, and how little our world has changed.
Finally it was time to line up at the start. A girlfriend from my town came to the race as well, and I sent her to the front of the small pack as I lined up in the back, feeling a sense of dread. In a small race it would likely mean I would be alone, being as slow as I am. I hoped the course was well marked so I didn’t get lost.
The race started right on time. They weren’t kidding; the course ran along the water the whole way, a truly flat course. Beautiful! I did my best to not get too caught up in the herd, but also not take it too easy, for the first mile. My Runkeeper was telling me I was going fast, probably too fast to be able to keep up with. The first mile was fast and I held an 11:11 min/mile pace through it.
I started feeling my energy flag during the second mile. Still, I was really hoping for a great time here, the course was seriously flat. I kept pushing. I slowly passed people who had gone out too quickly. And surprisingly, even though it was a small race, I had a group of three our four all around me. As we approached the water stop, I willed myself to keep going. I routinely run without water for a 5K and it wasn’t hot. I didn’t need it. I kept the pace mostly even, just dropping a little during mile two: 11:19.
I’m not sure what happened after the turnaround. It was the same course, beautiful and flat. But I really started to struggle. It was very sunny and even though it was 50 or so degrees, my long sleeved tech shirt seemed too hot and I was sweating a lot. There was a bit of a wind we were running into as well. All around me it seemed the people I was keeping pace with were struggling. A woman near me broke into run/walk breaks. I finally joined her at one point for 30 seconds, just to kind of hit the reset button and get back into a groove. I hit mile 3 not knowing where I was time wise, knowing that I hadn’t hit 35 minutes yet. Mile 3 shows the struggle: 11:51.
After the mile three marker, I expected to see the finish line right around the corner. But it wasn’t. It was still a good distance away, and I knew that the course had to be long. There was no way that was only 0.1 mile from that marker, it seemed so far away. Still, I pushed myself as much as I had left in me to cross, and was truly pissed off when I saw the clock turn to 36:xx as I approached.
Official time 36:12, which is about a minute slower than I’d expected I’d run the course.
When we all were cooling down afterwards, many told me that they too felt that the course had to be long. Everyone’s GPS tracked it at 3.17, 3.19, 3.2. Sure enough, when I spoke to the director, he admitted that the course was a bit short last year so they had moved the finish line. He too seemed surprised at how slow his time was because of the flat course, and realized that perhaps they had moved the finish line a bit too far.
Which made me feel slightly better, but still a little frustrated with myself that I didn’t run faster. I had hoped to get in UNDER 35 minutes, which should have put me somewhere in 35 and change even if the course was long. I’ve been working on speed for months, but I suppose since my weight is up and I didn’t plan out my week well (ate and drank plenty on Friday and did 1.5 hours of bootcamp) that might have affected my performance.
Even so, I’d definitely do this course again, just adjusting my expectations for the slightly longer course. It was truly flat and seaviews the entire time. Just beautiful. And my fears of being alone were unfounded; this isn’t an “elite” race so there were several people nearby all the time, which made me feel better.
My friend ended up taking second place in our age division since she’s Speedy McSpeederson.
So onto next week’s 5K, which has been my goal race for months to crack the 35 minute mark. We’ll see if I can do it with better planning and forethought this week. It’s the Vicki Soto 5K, which I ran last year. It promises to be an emotional, and special, day.