No Excuses 5K – Memorial Day 2011
Another weekend, another race under my belt. This time it was off to Sacramento, CA for the No Excuses 5K. I loved the theme of the event and as luck (if you want to call poor planning luck) would have it, I ended up having several very good excuses of my own!
Excuse 1: I forgot my running socks. Actually, I didn’t just forget my running socks. I forgot ANY socks.
Excuse 2: I had blisters. This is because I went for my warm up run on Sunday without socks so naturally ended up with several blister. I then promptly purchased socks and a boatload of bandaids.
Excuse 3: I had a hangover. Seriously. I had a fantastic evening out with friends the night before, threw caution to the wind and figured that if I could do speed work with a brutal hangover, surely I could race with one.
It takes talent to do all of the above. It takes courage, or more likely stupidity, to crawl out of bed on race morning and slink to the start line. When I woke up to a spinning world race morning, all I could think was that it would be really funny if I raced. And so I ate my pre-race meal, regretting all that Jager and Red Bull (sugar free at least) the night before while doing so, laced up my running shoes and headed to William Land Park.
The venue was fantastic. The heat in Sacramento can be unbearable, but the course was well shaded by trees. The course was very clearly marked and took us on a nice sprawling trip through the park and the accompanying golf course. The course was relatively flat (yeah!) and all asphalt (boo!) and featured time clocks at each mile point.
The event staff was amazing and the organization superior. I particularly enjoyed the cattle call at the start where we were expected to group ourselves by speed – 6 and unders at the front, walkers and strollers in the back with stations for everyone in between.
I warmed up, took a few pictures, waited twenty minutes in line to use an immaculate porta-potty, visited with friends, stretched out and eventually made my way to my start group: the 11 minute milers. After much fanfare, including a speech by the mayor and the like, the horn sounded and we were off.
I was immediately struck by how difficult it was to maneuver through the cattle call. No matter which way I tried to move, someone was there and usually moving slower than I was. As a slow runner myself, I did not begrudge my brethren…at first. After five minutes of being pushed and shoved, I became a little forceful in my attempts to get out of the pack and finally, FINALLY broke free and found my stride.
My stride, despite the hangover, blisters and cheap $1.00 socks from Target, was remarkably free and easy. I actually felt great and found myself steadily (and politely – which is more than I can say for some of the OTHER people) passing people. I rounded the corner at mile one to find a nice and respectable time of 11:30, which would be put me right about where I was a couple weeks ago.
Motivated, I kept moving and 9:38 seconds later I hit mile two. Wait, what?! That’s right; I was cruising and actually hit my first sub 10 mile since returning to running. I practically did a happy dance right there on the course. I then was passed by a pack of ten year olds. That always helps put things back in perspective.
So I pushed on, feeling great. Then not feeling quite so great. Then feeling the weight of several Jager and Red Bulls from the night before. I felt like I was running through molasses and every trash can along the course seemed like a delightful target. I practically screamed RUN FAT CHICK RUN in my head as I pushed to keep my pace. Mile three? 11:55. Still under twelve. Barely.
At this point, I could actually see the finish line. I could clearly see that somehow, I was a tenth of a mile from a personal best. And so I ran and finished with 34:33 seconds, pacing 11:09 seconds. Hung over, blistered and wearing cheap shocks. See, there really are NO excuses and all those hills are paying off.
I celebrated with a shower, nap and another four miles. Yes, ANOTHER four miles because I felt great and I knew I could! Thank you to my wonderful friends and family for the continued support. Next race: 5.8 miles in Carson City, NV on June 11.