Sunday, April 5, 2009

2009 Olathe 5K

I decided to sign up for this race on a whim; the race was originally scheduled the weekend previous when I was in Bennett Springs, but I saw it as a quick opportunity to "do-over" my first mile (way too fast at Truffle Shuffle, which probably cost me 10 seconds overall) and practice race pacing in general. My singular goal was to pace my first mile at 7:04.

The 5K was supposed to start at 7:30 AM, half an hour after the half marathoners took off. It was an extremely windy day (16-22 mph steady) with plenty of larger gusts (24-35 mph) and quite chilly, 44 F. I really wasn't prepared for how cold that felt. I warmed up right until 7:26, and went to take my place in line. Only there wasn't one, and I discovered they were lining us up somewhere else, pointing us in a different direction and the whole thing was delayed for some 15 to 20 minutes. Needless to say, I waited at the start and did nothing but shiver.

The cannon and starting gun went off (LOVE the cannon), and we were on our way, a lovely winding course that looped around Garmin HQ and Olathe High School. Interestingly, I had dozens and dozens of runners sprint ahead of me, including at least 20 women of various shapes and sizes. I reminded myself I was here for a reason today; not to race them, but to slow down in the first mile. Let them all go.

Most of the first mile was slightly downhill, and parts of it were into the headwind. This made it extremely difficult to pace. Literally watched my Garmin instead of where I was going that entire first mile, doing my best to finish it near 7:04. I did find that as I neared the first half mile; I'd already passed most of those runners, and by the time I hit a mile, I'd passed everyone I was going to pass (dozens and dozens). My watch read 7:03. Goal accomplished.

As I started the second mile, I found myself in extreme apathy. I was tired of the wind; didn't really care about the rest of the race. I continued on, no longer watching my Garmin, but just trying to keep a steady pace going. I could hear someone right behind me, perhaps 5-10 steps. I could hear the footfalls in step with my own; the bib flapping in the wind, and what sounded like steady, male breathing. I hoped it wasn't a female that I would have to outkick later. But I never dared to look.

We passed the first water stop, and one of the race officials with a watch shouted out to me, "First female, first female! Go!!" My watch was about 1.6 miles elapsed at this point, and I really had no idea if that were true. I didn't think so; but I also thought it was possible. I suddenly found a reason to keep going the rest of the race. My second mile was 7:15 as I glanced down at it; slow enough that a sub 22 was out of the question, but it was still worth hanging on. I didn't really feel great for this mile.

Mile three, I was pleased to be feeling better than I usually feel at this point. Miserable, but appreciably less so; I focused not on how much time I had elapsed, but the continued steady footfalls of the person behind me and how surprisingly strong my legs felt. This continued until the last turn we had towards the finish line. At this point, somewhere around the 3 mile mark, it was straight into a headwind and a mighty gust at that point. It was also slightly uphill. I went from running 6:59 pace to feeling like I was standing still and could barely move. The person behind me, which did turn out to be a male, edged past me and sprinted for the finish. I was relieved it was a male, and didn't care or think it was worth trying to take it back from him. I ran all the way through the chute, stopped, and punched my Garmin which read 22:39. My actual time was probably closer to 22:35. Not my fastest race, but I was happy to be in the 22s with the wind and my apathy. My head was not "in the game" today.

The runner who slipped by came to me and shook my hand vigorously and generously said, "You were a great rabbit! I chased you the entire way!" I laughed and we talked about that last gust. I really couldn't have gotten a better compliment at this point; it meant my pace really was nice and steady; as it should be, even if it were about 10 seconds off my 5K goal race pace.

And then we waited for the results, which were posted up on a board. As you see them there, they are exactly as they were posted (they have since been corrected, and I have put the updated link). I stared at them in a confused fashion. I did not run a 21:12. I was sure of that. Other ladies crowded around me, and they all started talking about their incorrect times and the placings. I could hear them talking about me, using my name and pointing to my name. They were first all saying that their times were about 85-90 seconds faster than they actually ran, and that I was second overall female, not "first masters." As you can see from the results, I am clearly the second female to have crossed the finish (the official on the course must have missed seeing Cindy; she is a rock star!!).

As their voices rose in frustration over the results, I confessed to being Alex Gardner. These ladies were so awesome and friendly. They led me over to the officials' area, and told them that I was second female overall. They said, 'We can vouch for her, she passed us and was way ahead of us. We watched her run.' The officials turned to me and said, "We'll give you your choice. First Master's or Second Overall Female." I was puzzled at this question, and at the urging of the other ladies, agreed to take the second overall female trophy. The race officials wrote this all down, and said they'd get the results corrected before posting (as you can see, however, at least as of the publishing of this blog, they were not corrected).

An awards ceremony was quickly commenced, and third overall, then me then Cindy Cameron trotted up to take the first place trophy. I haven't seen her in a race for many months and was so happy that she was back racing locally. Cindy is quite the inspiration to me, and I literally have her name in my home gym up on a wall, "What is Cindy Cameron doing today?" to remind me not to slack off. She is a superb athlete.

I'd like also to give a special mention to Cathy Colglazier from Scranton, KS, who got the first female master's trophy in the corrected awards ceremony. She was so friendly and helpful and worked the hardest to get the results corrected. I am only sad to know that she lives too far away to train with.

Pictures are supposed to be available by Friday. I'll post some then.


RunColo said...

Cannon, yes! In a previous post, I was talking about how I wish races would go back to the starters pistol, at this point I just think it's funny. In High School CC, growing up in Iowa, we had a meet do a "Shotgun Start" my guess is the RD only owned a shotgun!

Of course I live in liberal Denver and I'm pretty sure the ACLU would file suit if anyone brought out a starters pistol, as it would surely violate someones rights.

runner-grrl said...

That is funny: Shotgun start! Funnier, the half marathoners started at 7:00 AM and I was standing very near the cannon at the race start to see the runners off before I began my warm-up. I did NOT realize it was a live cannon that was going to go OFF. What a surprise and immediate HR elevation! --Alex

Travis said...

Looks like a you had a very good run, in general, and especially considering the wind and not feeling it. I struggled to maintain 8 minute pace when running directly into that wind on Saturday. It was awful. Very impressive:)

runner-grrl said...

Travis, I don't think I could have kept it up for 16 miles tho :-). Thanks for the visit! --Alex

Jesse said...

Wow! What a crazy report with the screwy results and all for your race. Congrats on the finish!

runner-grrl said...

Thanks, Jesse! Can't wait to hear about STL half :-) --Alex