One of my goals for last year, that got bumped to this year, was to run a road race. I did that last weekend. I set a personal record. I am glad it is done.
I mainly train on a treadmill for simplicity sake, though I do get outside now and again, so running outside won’t be a new thing when doing a race. That was a good strategy for me. I also trained using a Couch to 5k app on my phone, which also worked out well.
We got up super-early (5 a.m.) and dressed and loaded into the truck for the drive over to Fort Worth for the race. The 5k and the 10k run on Saturday morning, with the half-marathon (13.1 miles), marathon (26.2 miles), and ultra-marathon (30 miles) running on Sunday morning. We got to the general area right on time, but took a minor detour to avoid traffic and found a parking place. My brother also ran the 5k, so he was there when we arrived. I won’t say we ran together, since he is an elite level runner, but he was there!
We watched the 10k race start at 7 a.m. and them moseyed over to the finish line to watch the elite 10k runners finish. It was pretty amazing how fast some of these people can run!
At around 8 a.m. Party Boy and I walked over to the start area for the 5k. He gave me one last little pep-talk and sent me off to the starting corral. I worked my way up the middle of the group since we had been instructed to arrange ourselves based on our predicted speed. Elites at the front (where my brother was), average at the middle, and those that planned to walk at the rear. I was by myself, so I just hung out and listened to my music while I waited for the start.
And We’re Off
I distantly heard the starting gun and the crowd started to slowly move forward. I walked up to the start line and started to run. Only to realize that clearly the walkers hadn’t bothered to move to the back of the pack.
I dodged walkers to the first turn (about 50 yards) and then the course bottlenecked slightly and started an uphill climb. The pack thickened as more people filled less space and dodging walkers got harder and harder. We climbed a hill for most of the first mile, which was unpleasant and unexpected. I had trained for the much flatter downtown course, so was disappointed at just how hilly this course was!
We weaved through a neighborhood which found many runners jumping to the sidewalk and running through people’s yards (bad form in my opinion but almost unavoidable) to avoid the walkers and try to make up some time. I just dodged walkers and weaved through the crowd as best I could.
Somewhere around the one-mile mark I stepped on an uneven section of concrete and rolled my left ankle. I crashed in to the nice man beside me and thankfully he caught me, because I am fairly certain that had I gone down I would have been trampled. I walked for a bit to give my ankle some time to recover and then commenced running. By this point I was looking for the promised one-mile water station. It never appeared.
We turned onto a larger road and thankfully had the whole road to maneuver on and the crowd thinned somewhat. It made dodging the walkers a bit easier and was here that I passed most of the walkers and found myself among my people – the walker/joggers. At the halfway point I finally found the water station and got some water and finally began the downhill portion of the race. I was able to make up some time here.
We turned a couple more times and began another slight uphill climb before hitting another major thoroughfare. Unfortunately they hadn’t wanted to close even half of the road, so we were bottlenecked again into a one-lane section of road. Traffic was buzzing by us in the next lane, which was quite scary! It was at this point that I started dodging walkers again – from the 10k!
Nearing the Finish
I got to the second-to-last turn and saw my Dad standing on the far side with his camera. I waved and waved until he saw me. I’m pretty sure he would have missed me completely otherwise! I rounded the corner and started the homestretch. I know I heard my name, but was past where Party Boy and my brother were cheering me on before I caught a look at them. I crossed the finish line in 42 minutes and 22 seconds. I met my goal of a sub-45 5k, so I was pleased.
It got hairy after the finish line though. I stopped so my Mom could get a picture, but was quickly asked to move along. The area of the finish was another bottleneck! They wanted everyone to get pictures, and were shouting directions for that. I didn’t want a picture, so headed away from that side and tried working my way to the water table. The crowd stopped completely as a golf cart tried to work its way through the sea of wall-to-wall people.
I was feeling incredibly claustrophobic and fighting back a bit of panic at the crush of people until I hit the water table, only to be informed that they had RUN OUT OF WATER! Color me angry. I was dying of thirst and no water in sight. I immediately headed to the opposite side of the finish line to find my family. For the record, I could have had all the beer I could drink as Miller Lite was obviously far more well-equipped to handle the volume of runners than the race organizers were! Very disappointing!
All-in-all, it was a good run. I was happy with my time, especially given that I ran through an injury. I will not be doing this race again. It is one of the most expensive 5k’s out there ($25 for the race, $5 parking for packet pick up parking on Friday, $5 for parking on race day, plus the cost of gas) and didn’t feel very well run. I would hazard a guess that for this particular set of races the focus is truly on support for the half, marathon and ultra, as those seemed fairly well handled. The 5k and 10k happen only out of obligation maybe? Anyway, I will find other, closer races to run in the future and let the Cowtown live in the record books!
Oh, on Sunday Party Boy ran the half in 2 hours and 28 minutes! I was very proud of him. My parents walked it as well and you can read about that at my Mom’s blog. So proud of my racing family!
I am working towards creating a healthier lifestyle in 2012. See all of my posts here.