Saturday, July 14, 2007

Race Report: Zoo Run Run 5K-ish Race

ORN: 11.6 for the day; 7 miles, 1:12:57, R4/W1
5km Race: 24:05, 7:44/mile, new PR

The schedule called for 10 miles today, including a 5km time trial at 25:15. Conveniently, our local zoo had a 5K fund raiser this morning. So, I went out early and did a comfortable 7 miles on the Celery Bog route at a little over a 10:15 pace. It was fantastically beautiful to be out so early on a Saturday morning. I got home, grabbed a dry shirt and headed across town to run the 5K. One of the nice things about living in this city of 150,000 people is that “across town” is only a 12 minute drive.

Did I mention it was a spectacularly beautiful July morning in Indiana? The low humidity and 62F temperature at the start of the race was a marvelous gift. Given these nice conditions, I decided to push the pace to see if I could drop my 5K time below 24 minutes.

The race had some 400 participants and we took off on time. It took a while to find a hole to run in but I settled in comfortably a half mile or so into the race. As we approached the one-mile mark on my Garmin, I started looking for a mark or a timer to check the split. Nothing. Since I had turned off the auto-split feature on the Garmin, I have no idea what the split was, though I did guess it was under 8. So, we just kept motoring. We wound through some neighborhoods near the zoo and there was nothing really remarkable. I started looking for a 2 mile marker. Nothing. We carried on. Coming back towards the park, the Garmin told me we had about .3 miles to go, so I opened it up, as I sensed I had a shot at getting under 24.

We turned a corner and I saw the finish line and the legs felt strong, ready for a good finish. Then I saw a barrier, with a volunteer directing us to the left. I saw folks finishing, but coming from the opposite direction. What was going on?? Turned out the course marshals sent us on a wrong turn at the start and the course was actually about 3.6, not 3.1 miles long.

I was still pushing in my kick, based on a 5K finish distance. So, I decided to keep kicking and then hit the stop button when my Garmin said 3.11 miles. That was my objective and what I needed from a training plan. My watch stopped at 24:05, short of my goal, but still a PR over the 5K race I had a month ago.

I walked and jogged the rest of the course, grabbed some bananas and enjoyed the free pancakes and sausage they offered. I ended up meeting another local runner over the flapjacks and we were both surprised to meet someone who also runs marathons. So, despite the disorganization of the race, it was an enjoyable morning. Did I mention the weather??

More importantly, this little race has historical significance for me. I ran it 3 years ago as the first race in this new era of my running. Due to work demands, I had not run much for 7 years, hadn’t raced at all in that period and only started running again in May 2004 when I started my current job. I hesitatingly entered this race just to see what would happen. I distinctly remember wondering at the start if I could even run the distance without walking. I had lousy shoes, wore two neoprene knee braces to ease the joint pain, had not discovered wicking fabric, weighed 12 pounds more than I do now and was generally clueless. Amazingly, I did run the full distance in 29:45, a 9:36 pace, which stunned me. I just re-read my running log from the day which I concluded writing: “If I get to the point of running a 10K race comfortably whenever I want to, I’ll be pleased.”

Fast-forward three years and a lot has happened. It is a marvelous gift to have the health to run and run comfortably. And I am pleased.



Wes said...

In three years, you have come an amazing distance! I can't wait to achieve my goal of a comfortable 10 miles anytime I choose. If I can do it in three years time, I will be pleased too! Nice race, Joe!

Karen said...

Make sure that you can remember the weather of July 14 if you decided to do a half at Parkersburg, Joe!! (and next year at South Bend!!)

Glad to hear your report!

Darrell said...

Hey, I thought I was there the only really nice weekend in Indiana. 8-)

This warm up miles strategy before a 5K seems to be working quite nicely for you. That 5K PR is even sweeter knowing where you were back in December and January. Congrats!

I'm looking forward to Rocket City. I haven't had time to blog about it yet, but needless to say I was quite suprised. Thanks for your part in the whole little conspiracy to get me another state.

Sarah said...

You've come a long way! Not only can you comfortably smash that 5k time, you can do so with a 7 mile warm-up. Nice job and a beautiful morning ta boot! : )

IronWaddler said...

The best part is appreciating how far you have come and now injury free. Glad you had a good day.

Backofpack said...

Isn't it funny to go back and read the thoughts we had back when? And so good to realise we stuck with it and made huge gains. Nice one Joe! (Also, nice work on the BD surprise for Darrell!)

Unknown said...

Great job, Joe! You've certainly come a long way. I love the early morning warm up before the race.

David said...

I shake my head...
Seven miles before a race? That's a lot of warm up.
62 degrees in the morning? In Indiana in July?
No mile markers? Wrong turns? Who are these guys?
Pancakes and sausage are awesome!
Rookie runner three years ago. You sure were by the way you described yourself.
... and now look at you.
Awesome perseverance.

Anonymous said...

Good race report and congrats following your anniversary of returning to running. I like your site and look forward to reading you more. Keep up the great posting and running!