Sunday, January 25, 2009

2009 Groundhog 5K: Fierce!

My whole family came out to support me in this race, which was awesome, both logistically and mentally. We arrived very early, and enjoyed taking in the scene while I took my time in a nice, long, easy warm-up. I had four layers on, and gradually peeled layers off, tossing them by my kids, which was highly amusing.

I hadn't run for three days leading up to this race, due to the cold that settled in Thursday morning. I was well rested, and was curious to see how I felt in some strides as the race time approached. I felt nothing but thrill as I allowed a few of these; I love running fast. I knew at that point I was going to have a very good race.

With less than five minutes to go, I pushed myself up near the front of the line (no small task the way they line people up). How the singer got through the National Anthem while they raised the platform on her, jerked her to a stop, slipping the flag in the middle of it, is a testament to her commitment to "The show must go on!" Unlike the race a few weekends ago, I intended to be ready for the gun this time :-)

We were off, and within a few hundred yards, I could feel my arms tingle, a sure sign I was going too fast. I allowed myself to pull back just a little, and let some people pass for a bit. I settled down, and passed the first mile in what read 6:22, which doesn't really seem possible. Actually, I'm certain that first mile must be off by a tenth, and I do recall hearing this from others as well.

I never slowed again, and just hung on to what felt like very low 7s, and did more passing than being passed. It felt good and exciting to run this fast, but it was a very hard effort. I knew I'd break 23 minutes, and was just counting down in 30 second increments.

By 19 minutes elapsed, the suffering was pretty intense, but I knew I didn't have far to go. I repeated this verse: "All things are possible through Christ who strengthens me." (Phillipians 4:13). I stopped looking at my watch when it passed 20 minutes and only focused on getting to the finish line. I ran all the way through (there is only chip time at the finish, not the start) and punched it. My watch read 22:35, which is about right, since I was probably about 2 seconds back from the start line.

Immediately after crossing the finish line, KC Photo snapped a picture. This was the peak of my agony from the race, so I imagine this photo will look particularly bad. I thought really ugly thoughts when he snapped that picture :-) (Update: Here's that priceless shot of visual agony for your amusement!)

We waited through the awards ceremony. Funny, I would have had a solid win in the 35-39 female age division. I took 3rd in the female 40-44 with an official time of 22:37. Last year, there were well over 100 women in this age group, so I'm very pleased with placing this well. This was a solid PR for me, my previous PR being 23:38 from August of last year.


Rick said...

A full minute off of your PR, and so soon after coming back from your stress fracture. Watch out 22:00, you're going to fall very soon! Cograts!

runner-grrl said...

Sure hope so! But, wow, that was a hard effort, whew! Thanks for the comment! :-)

ECrunnergirl said...

Congratulations!! That is so awesome and very fierce!! Yeah, Im in the same age group and those 40 something chicas are FAST!!!

Vince said...

Hey Alex,
I'm not going to say that the 5k will ever feel any easier (it always burns), but you're going to go faster. You haven't done the kind of work that makes this type of effort feel "comfortable" yet.

runner-grrl said...

EC, Thanks! It's an interesting phenomenon... every race I've been two, the 40-44 female group is more competitive than the 35-39 group. I don't know if we're just more focused, or what! Happy you stopped by to check on the 5K! And I thought of your comment as I crossed, and thus named the entry "fierce" ;-)

runner-grrl said...

Coach Vince, Thanks for the comment! And thanks for all the great training, I have you to thank for a lot! I'm sure even the little bit of speedwork on my comeback has helped, and I'm totally counting on getting faster (if not more comfy). The good news is, with speed comes a quicker finish, thus, less suffering over time :-)

Sharneysrun said...

You are AWESOME!! You should be so proud of yourself! I can't wait to start racing! I hope I can be as strong and fast as you when I am recovered from my stress fracture! Thanks for the inspiration!

P.S. I loved the bible verse you repeated- very uplifting for sure :-)

runner-grrl said...

Sharon, Thanks for the comment, and I sure hope you are strong and fast when you come back too! I can't wait to hear all about it :-) I didn't intend to focus on that verse (or any verse, actually). It came to me. This ended up being the most spiritually moving run / race I've ever done. Someday soon, I look forward to sharing my full story. But, even the comeback from the stress fracture is enough for me to be very grateful; and realize the source from which my strength springs!

RunColo said...

Well done! Yeah, often times the 30-40 year age bracket is the weakest. The masters crowd is also one of the toughest.

My theory is that a lot of 30 year olds have young children so it makes racing/training harder, but by the time you hit your 40's the kids are easier to take care of, etc.

I'm certainly finding that out for myself being 30 and having a 4 month old and an almost 4 year old. Makes it hard to get out and train.

Well done though!

runner-grrl said...


Thanks for the visit! I've been thinking a lot about the 30-40 bracket also, and why masters are often stronger.

I think the children aspect might be a large part of it, but it's a phenomenon that prevails for singles and those without kids.

Maybe by the time you hit 40, you have a deeper drive, determination and focus. And more confidence. I'm quite a different person than who I was at 30.

So.. I guess you are just going to get faster over the next 10 years! Lookout!!

Rick said...

Woohoo! >10 comments on one post! :D

runner-grrl said...

Rick, Does it count when 6 of them are my responses :-)?

Rick said...



Daryl said...

I love that agony pic!! Truly inspiring. Now where are my old running shoes? :) Way to go on the great race Alex!!!

runner-grrl said...

Daryl, Hahaha, yes, THAT is indeed the face of agony. Or extreme nausea.. or both :-) Thanks for the visit.