In Her Shoes 5K Race Recap
After consuming five or six EmergenC packets with twelve liters of tea before going to bed at 8:45pm, and then miserably waking up three times in the middle of the night to blow my nose and conduct shaky-handed salt rinses for an aching throat, I felt comparatively quite dandy when I got up this morning.
I felt snotty, stuffy, sore-throated and weird, but nothing that would prevent me from trying my hand at the 5K.
So I started out the morning with a rainy four mile shakeout and “legs tester” before the sun came up, which was uneventful aside from the fact that I blew a few hugely satisfying clods of multicolored snot from my sinuses.
I came home from the trot, decided I definitely felt good to race, and drank more fizzly EmergenC tea.
A little while later, I headed out to the course (which, thankfully, is within half a mile of my house – no ride required).
I met up with a few friends, warmed up some more, and chatted up some race officials about the course layout. Yes, it was a full 5K, they assured me, and might actually be a little long. Good. I would much rather a course run long than short.
This race was put on by a local organization called AWARE (Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies), which provides support to victims of sexual or domestic violence. In retrospect, knowing this, I feel pansyish for not going more balls-to-the-wall during this race. Given it’s purpose, it would’ve been sweet to have a female cross the line in first.
But toward the end, once I realized I would PR, I got a little lazy and apathetic and forgot that I was racing.
Oh right. The race.
The field size was about double that of my first Alaska race – maybe about 40 people? I had no idea what to expect from myself, given my stupid little cold and the fact that I haven’t raced a 5K for a couple of years. I decided that if I could win the women’s side, that would be good enough. But you never really know who will come out of the woodwork around here, and the 5K is not a distance over which I have any expertise or confidence.
Half of the course was on trail, and the other half on pavement. The course made two loops of this same trail/pavement combination. The trail portion was muddy and shoe sucking, with an extreme turnaround where, embarrasingly, I slipped and went hands down to the ground. Meanwhile, the pavement portion was fraught with puddles, so my shoes quickly became waterlogged and soggy, which didn’t matter because I’m so used to these conditions now — I run in this rainy wet nonsense every day and it is no longer a cause for concern.
So, course conditions? Muddy, puddle-y, flat. And the temperature was nice and cool, per usual. In other words, PR conditions.
We buzzed off the line and got started. A pack of dudes took it out hard, and I stayed quietly back, waiting for them to start hurting. I don’t think there was a single thought in my head for the first twelve minutes. Not a single thought. Okay, actually I had precisely two thoughts, in the following order:
I’m going out too fast.
I’m going out too slow.
[There were no mile markers to corroborate either of these thoughts. We don’t care about that kind of silliness here in Alaska. Although I do wish I had some data to examine.]
In any case, I methodically stalked the pack of guys for a little while longer, and eventually caught up to them without changing my effort level. I pulled away from the pack with two of the guys, both of whom eventually strung out in front of me by a few seconds.
The course flew by and before I knew it, the finish line felt close. I had lost focus and retreated into my own world inside my head, and when the finish line became imminent I snapped back and tried to reel in the two guys. I closed significantly on both of them and felt my tummy get into a mildly uncomfortable knot from the effort, but ran out of real estate before the line.
Okay, that’s cool. Definitely a PR.
Immediately afterward, I felt physically great, and mentally regretful.
What the heck was that? Why didn’t I try harder? Why didn’t I reel in those two guys? Why did I just sit back and get lazy like that? What happened to my racing tenacity? When did I lose all my guts? I’m in decent shape and I had this one chance this fall to lay down an awesome 5K, and that’s the only effort I felt compelled to give?
Jeez. That’s the second race this fall where I felt like I was just goofing off and doing a workout instead of actually nutting up and racing.
I’m not sure why it feels this way.
Maybe because the racing fields here are so small?
Maybe because I have no rivalries or expectations here?
Maybe because the racing scene is all business and no fanfare, no hype?
Still, though, a 19:30 is pretty neat. It’s a PR, for sure, and I was working hard. But I wasn’t… I wasn’t in that zone of do or die. I didn’t push myself into puking or fainting mode. In fact, I haven’t gotten myself into that zone since college rowing.
That’s a little bittersweet to me. It’s as if I’ve forgotten how to be competitive with myself. I’m at a point where I grow complacent and content with surpassing my low expectations, rather than chasing more appropriate goals. I think that’s why Shelby’s recent meditation on mid-race apathy in her marathon report struck such a chord with me: it’s been plaguing me this year.
On the one hand, it’s disappointing, but at the same time?
Heck. Whatever. I was out there enjoying myself and feeling a nice burn in my legs. I was out there in the rain, in the mud, having a good time.
And I need to cut myself some slack: I’ve done my time being a slave to splits and laying awake at night, wondering, tossing, turning. Pulling so hard on the erg that my teeth start chattering and my lips turn blue. That compromises your immune system. That hurts. That’s not something a normal person can sustain year after year.
So now, I’m just another jolly jogger.
It’s sad in a way. Where did my guts go? I know where they went. There is no reason to have guts anymore. There’s no qualifying on the line. There are no rivalries on the line. There’s no more Beat Penn, gain a seat on Dartmouth, make the Grand Final.
Apparently, I don’t rise to the occasion very well without that kind of external motivation. (On the other hand… maybe I do better without the pressure?)
WHOA, ANGSTY. My bad. I didn’t mean to have another identity crisis, but it happens.
Yeah, so I finished the race. Schmoozed with my pals for a while, and headed home. Then, I cooled down with the same four mile out and back I’d run early in the morning, and that’s where either the effort of the race or the feeling of sickness caught up to me. I became dizzy and lightheaded and turned into the zombielike form that I’d previously morphed into in the last 3.5 miles of the marathon.
Oh god, when is this going to be over.
With about a mile to go in my cooldown, I suddenly started walking for a few seconds. It was weird. I don’t know what happened.
After knocking out some of the dizziness, I picked things back up to a run, came home, hoovered a huge pile of eggs and veggies supplemented by Halloween candy, and am now laying on the couch drinking vitamin C tea and feeling slightly ill but happy.
Have you ever felt regretful about the effort you put in after a race? How do you deal with those thoughts?
How do you know when you’ve really put in a do-or-die racing effort?