Race Report: Park Point 5 Miler

Official Results:
Time: 61:09
Pace: 12:14
Placing:
Overall: 334/365
Gender: 183/209
Division (F 19-34): 82/98

Watch Results:
Time: 61:15
Pace: 12:08
Distance: 5.04 mi
Heart Rate: N/A

Goals:
A: 56:00
B: 59:59

Food:
What I ate for lunch: Bacon, lettuce, avocado sandwich with fried egg, french fries
What I carried with me: Handheld water bottle

Gear:
What I wore: Tank top, running capris, ball cap
Gadgets: GPS watch

Discussion:
What a disappointment. That’s all I can say. I was over a minute off my 5K PR pace, and even though I started conservatively (mile 1 @ 11:45, mile 2 @ 11:34), the wheels really fell off.

I clearly did not handle the heat well. I just haven’t trained for it enough. I got to Park Point at about 4:30 or so, after stopping to pick up some mints, driving back home because I forgot sunscreen, and then finally getting underway. It was about 84 F at that point, with very little cloud cover. I walked over and picked up my race packet, t-shirt, and socks (socks! Yay!), then walked back to my car. I sat in my car and read/fooled around on my phone for a little over an hour. This was not a good idea, because I wasn’t in the shade. I was mostly in the shade, but a small part of me (depending on where I was sitting) was in the sun. And overall I was just heating up, although it didn’t feel too bad. There was really no reason to get there so early. I could have arrived at like 5:15 or 5:30 and had no problem parking in the exact same spot I did, and I wouldn’t have been letting my body heat up.

At 5:50, I was antsy enough to walk back over the pavilion and start warming up. I was feeling slower than normal during the warmup, but that’s the point of the warmup, to shed the slowness from the legs. I sat in the shade by myself after that and just waited. I SHOULD have parked somewhere closer to a shady area. Then I could have gotten out of my car, sat in the shade and read, and then stowed my stuff back in the car before starting my warmup. Anyway, I felt ok after the warmup and I felt better about the run. A few minutes before I walked over to the start, I doused my hat in water from my handheld and then doused my hair.

As I said, I held back at the beginning. I started near the back again, but there was no time clock, so I had no idea how far off I was from the start. There were only 365 finishers (maybe more starters, I don’t know if anyone DNF), so my chip time turned out to be only 25 seconds off of gun time. I was feeling ok, but hot, and my mouth was kind of drying out. A few people along the route had sprinklers or hoses going and sprayed consenting runners when they went by. These people were lifesavers.

I reached the turnaround, which was a little over 2.5 miles in, and I saw my uncle standing there waiting for me. He lives on Park Point in the summer and rode his bike over for some moral support, which was nice. He told me I looked great, and looked strong, which I probably did at that point. Later he told me he hadn’t had a chance to get his camera out and I am very grateful for that. I looked at myself after the race, maybe 10 minutes after I’d finished, and I was beet red, as always.

I don’t really know what happened, but I started to feel really badly after the turnaround. I took a sip of water and a little went down my windpipe a bit, so I had to cough. The water was pretty warm already (another consequence of leaving too early for the race) so it wasn’t refreshing and didn’t make my stomach feel great. I must have swallowed a bunch of air because I was burping a bit, which worried me that my stomach was going to be even more upset if I wasn’t careful. I doused myself with some water from the water bottle, completely wetting my tank top, and poured some more on my hat, but it didn’t feel that refreshing. I also dumped the cup of water from the aid station on myself, rather than trying to sip from it. I would never survive the Western States Endurance Run. I ran mile 3 at 12:28, which ate up all the cushion I’d given myself in the two previous miles, and then I lost focus, energy, everything in mile 4, 12:55 pace.

I think something was funky with the clock, because I thought the clock said 1:02:XX when I crossed, and at the 4 mile mark, I thought an hour was out of my reach. It really wasn’t, and if I’d known that, maybe I’d have been able to dig a little deeper. Maybe not. I wanted to pass a couple people I’d been following at the end, and I wasn’t able to get enough of a kick together. I did get passed at the end by someone, but I think she had been sandbagging a little, picking up a runner behind me and trying to help me out, so she had a little more in the tank. There were a couple people who I think were trying to keep up with me, or at least were using me as a benchmark (would walk, run until they caught up with me, then walk again), and I was able to turn on a little more speed to leave them behind, but I didn’t have as much of a kick as I would have liked. My final mile was at a 12:09 pace.

I didn’t walk at all during the race, and I pushed myself to keep moving, keep speeding up, whenever I saw my pace slowing. I didn’t let fear of an upset stomach slow me to a walk (I did slow down a few times when I felt really iffy, but I didn’t walk.) I could have done more to manage the heat, but I made the right choice to carry the water bottle with me, and it didn’t annoy me too much. I learned how to suffer in a race, I guess. I FELT strong, physically, and I wasn’t gasping for air at any time, so my training worked, but the heat just sapped my energy and my competitive edge.

After the race I sat in the grass for a little while, just to shake away the post-run wooziness (it was still 82 degrees at 7:30 PM, when I finished), and then I got in line for the goodies. They had little mini containers of Ben and Jerry’s! Amazing. And also very helpful because I was stuck on Park Point. There’s only one way off, and that’s the same road the race is on. I had to wait til the race ended and the road was cleared, and then it took forever to get off the point. The traffic in Canal Park, four miles away, was backing us up. I will need a better strategy next year.

I trained hard and ran somewhat hard (not as hard as I could have) and I learned some hard but valuable lessons. I don’t know how common 5 mile races are (it seems 10Ks are more popular), so I might have to wait until next year to try to get under an hour. I’m mad at myself because, looking back, less time pre-race in the heat and the sun would have made a difference, maybe over a minute’s difference, I don’t know. But hey, it was a PR! And I had a good time, even when I was suffering. Since I wasn’t winded, I could talk to spectators or other runners a bit, and I smiled most of the way. I had a disappointing result, but a good overall experience.

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