Race Report: Hoof n Woof 5K

I ran a race for the first time since 2019!

Official Results:
N/A (non-chip timed, actually not even sure if there was any timing)

Watch Results:
Time: 30:53
Pace: 10:14
Distance: 3.02 mi
Heart Rate: N/A

A: 29:29
B: 31:59
C: 36:59 (faster than my first 5K)

What I ate the night before: pot roast sandwich and cajun tater tots
What I ate on race morning: Clif bar
What I carried with me: nothing

What I wore: tshirt, long-sleeved quarter zip, leggings, ball cap
Gadgets: GPS watch, fitness tracker

Discussion: I finally forced myself to race again. Racing hasn’t appealed to me that much since the pause for the pandemic; I hated the idea of giving up a precious day to sleep in, and I just couldn’t stomach the cost of a lot of races. I decided to force myself back to running races a few weeks ago, and searched for a local race that didn’t cost too much. The Hoof N Woof 5K was only $25 (plus I made an additional $10 donation to the charity) and was in Falcon Heights at the vet school/State Fairgrounds, so it was easy to get to.

Wednesday (when it was still boiling hot!) I did a workout where I practiced “running fast.” I wanted to know what certain paces/efforts felt like, because I haven’t tried to run fast in a long time. I had no idea what I could even do, or how long I could sustain a hard effort. Since it was hot and I was tired when I ran, I don’t know if that run actually told me much, but it gave me an idea of what paces were out of my reach and which were more reasonable.

I rested on Thursday, and on Friday I meant to do an easy shake-out run. I accidentally picked a pretty hilly route in Highland Park, which I mitigated by walking some of the steeper or longer hills. I wasn’t really sure if I was going to run, because the weather forecast predicted rain in the morning and much chillier temps. I didn’t want to get soaked and frozen for a race I hadn’t invested much in. The race organizer sent out a course map the day before, showing the start/finish was right next to a parking garage; knowing there was shelter next to the race start helped reassure me the race wasn’t going to suck before it even started. It turned out packet pickup was indoors, so the problem was totally nonexistent.

I woke up before my alarm and tried to go back to sleep, but it didn’t work. It was raining when I got up, but I decided to take a chance anyway. I had plenty of time to get dressed and out the door and still arrive about 20 minutes before the start. It rained most of the drive but it did start to let up. I picked up my bib, put my cell phone and featherweight jacket back in the car, and did a very short warm-up in an extremely light drizzle that was gone before race start.

The race start was so casual that I didn’t even have my watch ready. This was more of a fun run atmosphere, so I actually think I was at the front of the finishing pack (though well behind the winner, a woman who absolutely blazed ahead of the rest of us and continued to put distance on even her closest competitors.) There were a lot of people with dogs or people who had come to support the cause and have a relaxed walk/jog. I was one of the first ~10 or so people who crossed the start line (since the start took us by surprise), and after maybe the first minute or so, no one passed me.

The race started with a short but fairly steep uphill and I realized that was probably going to sap my legs for the whole race. After a brief downhill, another prolonged but more gradual uphill followed – directly into the wind. I accepted that this was not going to be an indicator of my raw speed, and decided to focus on the effort instead. The course didn’t have any road closures, and only one crossing that was monitored, but there wasn’t much traffic and we could easily run on the sidewalks most of the time. In the second mile, there was a nice prolonged downhill, but it was followed up by a steeper uphill at the beginning of the third mile that really didn’t feel fun. I had an interval runner behind me and I couldn’t seem to get separation; I could hear his heavy footsteps behind me for most of the race, and he would a few times get ahead of me for a moment before stopping for a walk interval. Intervals are a valid race strategy that I wish I was better able to incorporate (I found myself focusing too much on the next interval and not in the moment and it would make me really frustrated), but it’s really hard to have someone that close constantly catching up, passing, falling back, catching up, etc. The third mile had a prolonged downhill onto the State Fair campus and I thought I could speed up and shake him, but the overwhelming scent of the ag school kept me from taking advantage. The morning rain and the humidity really made that manure scent powerful, woof. I did finally shake him in the final quarter mile, because it was uphill and I somehow charged up it as best I could and that put some seconds between us. It’s only fair I get to go in the chute first if I’ve been your rabbit all race!

Despite the difficulty of the course, I had a great time! It felt so wonderful to challenge myself again, to push and then push some more. Somehow despite fairly significant variations in pace, my mile splits were very close together: 10:14, 10:12, 10:16. I can’t be that consistent when I’m trying! I am going to look for another 5K in May to give myself a shot to beat this time, and maybe the sneak under 30 mins? I’m a masters runner now, time to establish masters PRs! (And I hope overall PRs eventually! I’ve still got a lot of room to improve.)

After the race I picked up a latte on my way home, chilled out for a bit, and then went for a second run. My legs were pretty tired, and I made it worse by having to hurry because I added about 0.7 mi to my planned distance by accident, and had to book it to get home in time to meet my friend for a walk. Now it’s bedtime and despite MYRTLs and foam rolling, my lower half is pretty achy. Tomorrow’s run is going to be rough.


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