Saturday, November 1, 2008

Spark-A-Delic 5K

Today marked the day of Scheels first annual Spark-A-Delic 5K run. This was a nice flat-ish course around the Sparks Marina area. I made myself a goal to run a 5k in under 25 minutes, and since this was a pretty flat course, and not too many people to crowd the start to a walk, I figured this was my best chance. And to help me do this was my friend Turi and his little friend Lumpy- his Garmin watch with a pace setter! We jogged about a half mile to warm up, then Turi set Lumpy for 8:00 min. miles, and we had a fantastic start! Much faster than I'm used to- I like to include my warm up at the beginning of my run, and gradually get faster with whatever my body's got to give me. This technique has always worked for me (yeah, the whole "listen to your body" thing sounds a little New Age, but hey), so that's how I train. I know that you shouldn't try something new on a race day, but I wasn't sure if I went slow at first that I'd be able to make up the time at the end. I should work on that. We managed to keep about 2-3 seconds ahead of Lumpy, and at one point we were even 10 seconds ahead! Which was a good cushion to have: I think the wind was blowing in a NNE direction, and after we made the first turn to head towards the Marina, we found out that we had been running with a pretty decent tail wind. It was actually blowing hard enough that I could feel my bib pushing against my stomach, and I had to keep my head down so my hat wouldn't blow off my head. At around mile 2 I was feeling our pace and I had to adjust my breathing from every 3 strides in and out, to two, and by 2.5 I could feel the beginnings of a stitch in my right side. I caved and told Turi I had to back off a little (I wasn't risking walking because of a stupid stitch!). I think he felt bad like he wasn't motivating me enough (and believe me, he did an awesome job trying!), but I would have slowed down WAY before then without him pacing me (and me trying to impress him like I always run at this pace, no problem!). I glanced at my watch as it hit the 23 minute mark, and my spirits fell as I realized there was no way I was going to finish in under 25. I didn't slow down any more however, and as I rounded the last sharp turn through the gate, I could see the clock- it said 24:30 or so, and if I sprinted I might just still make it...

24:46!!!! AAAAAaaaaahhhhhh!

Well, that's the official time posted on the board, but both Turi and I stopped our watches at about 24:55. (That's quite time difference!) But who cares? They both say that I finished in under 25 minutes! WHOO-HOO! Turi, always the gentleman, let me run through the chute first, and I came in 50th overall (out of 350ish, I'm guessing). While I was running, and after I finished, I thought, is it worth it to run for time, and push myself this hard? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for testing and stretching limits and making new goals and pushing hard. But I would have enjoyed the run so much more if I hadn't set a time goal for myself, and that's what I do these races for: getting good exercise, enjoying the fresh air and the scenery around me, running with others and sharing a good run, and maybe even a little competition if there is someone running at about my same pace (when they're not pacing me) that I can try to keep up with or even pass. I decided that I probably won't be setting such a specific goal in the near future (although the memory of the tiredness of my lungs is already fading), and that I should stick to finishing without stopping, and maybe a general time goal to fit the course (finish this half marathon in under 2 hours 30, or something like that).

And then I looked at the overall ranking by age group.

I came in 2nd! HOLY COW! I never expected that I'd place! And the first place runner was only 30 seconds in front of me- if only I hadn't slowed down, maybe I could have caught her! Well, I might not have lost 30 seconds because we didn't slow down that much, but who knows? If I'd seen her, maybe I could have pushed a little harder to make a last second pass... Not only did they call my name out during awards and put a medal around my neck, but I also won a $25 gift card to Scheels! That made me rethink my position on setting time goals. Winning stuff totally rocks! That was almost better than making my time goal. :)

Here is a picture of Turi and me post-race.

Did I mention that it was 70's themed run? They gave out a prize for best costume, but I think Turi got gypped. The woman who won didn't have that great a costume- she just had a fro the size of a beach ball, and that's why she got the big shiny trophy. Turi wore a cummerbund and matching bow tie for goodness sake! Here's a pre-race shot just as the sun was starting to peep through~

I think Turi nailed it when he said that it pays off to run in small races, especially when they break down the age groups into small brackets to maximize on medals given out. Thank you Turi for being my pacer man and helping me meet my race time! Even though I can be whiny at times, I had a great time, and absolutely utterly and entirely appreciate you running with me. :)


Turi said...

Ha! You rocked, and it was a great time.

Funny how your feelings about goals can change like that, huh?

Gretchen said...

Wow, awesome job!! I'm glad you got a taste of accomplishing a tough goal and scoring some loot. Pushing yourself for a goal can be addicting! ;) Don't worry though, you can still set goals for races like 'finish without stopping' or 'just have fun!' and still have tough goals sometimes as well. Every race is different...part of the beauty of it all.
Congrats again, you rock!

SnowLeopard said...

Thanks guys! I better do some more races quick though, 'cause I'm about to age up to the next (and quite a bit more competitive) age bracket...

Peter Lubbers said...

Nice work, Amber! Great time.
So, what's next?