Where to begin! Our first 5k race was pretty eventful, and I definitely learned a lot from it. So let us not waste time and get right into it.
We were up and out of the house for registration by 8:30 a.m. To be honest, neither one of us was feeling very well. My stomach was having all sorts of issues Thursday and Friday due to a stupid mistake on my part. I slightly changed my diet; I splurged on sweet potato fries on Tuesday and went out for a late-night snack with my brother on Thursday night. Seriously, never altering my diet during a race week ever again. It was a dumb rookie mistake.
Another dumb rookie mistake was that I ran a 4k the evening before headed home from work, so my legs were a little sore and tired. I had planned on resting, but didn't stick to the plan and probably paid for it a little bit.
Once we got there, registration was a breeze, and we got our bibs and goody bag. Inside were spiced chai and espresso energy drinks made with soy milk. We knew enough not to drink them, though after the race we heard a few women complaining about how they felt like crap after drinking them before the race. lol.
One of the big problems for us pre-race was the time between when we registered and the actual race time. We were pumped to go at 9:00 a.m., but by 10:00 a.m., the buzz kind of subsided and we were a little lethargic. We went for a quick trot around the parking lot at one point to wake up a little, but it was still a very long waiting period.
Approaching ten o'clock, we all headed out and walked the block or so to the starting line. We figured that we should try to get toward the middle/back of the pack since we weren't the serious racers and didn't want to get in anyone's way. This brings up one of the most important lessons learned from the race. Make sure you know how the timing is done. What we didn't know was that the timing started for EVERYONE when the gun went off, regardless of how far back from the starting line you were. By my estimate, we lost about 20 to 30 seconds from the time it started to the time we crossed the start line. Not to mention the 10 to 20 seconds it took to actually start running once we passed the starting line. If you are going for time, make sure you know if your time starts when you cross the start line. If I had known that wasn't the case, I would have tried to push up closer to the start line to get around the 400+ people in front of us.
During the Race
When we finally got going, we started at a decent clip. Our first two-mile splits were approx. 9 minutes to 9 minutes and 15 seconds. A faster pace than we normally run, but something we were both able to maintain fairly easily. Once we got into the groove I felt like we were working our way up the path, breezed by Ms. Jingle Bells, and the guy with the Rudolph the Reindeer nose. (This race was super serious.) Everything was pretty good.
Fun fact, the route we trained on differed from the route we ran that day. The pack missed a loop that avoided a downhill stretch; so if you try to prepare for a race, try to make 100 percent sure you know the trail.
The last mile, the dreaded uphill section, was a doozy though. We did fairly well with it, though our pace dropped down to slightly over 10 minutes. I noticed a lot of people walking midway through the hill, and even more at the one steeper section. That made me feel pretty good, as I kept running.
Overall, we finished with 30 minutes and 43-44 seconds. Not too bad for our first outing! We were consistently running what we thought to be the route around 32 minutes the weeks prior to the race, so I'll take it!
Once we finished, we headed over to the after party where we got our free five-minute massage. Other than that, there was pizza, beer, and cake . . . none of which seemed too appealing to us at the time (though along one far wall, they were handing out bananas). Thus, we headed home a little sore and feeling pretty good about the race. I happily drove Ellie crazy analyzing every aspect of the race, about where we could have jived faster and cut cleaner, while she muttered under her breath.
I think our general feeling is that we are going to sign up for more and try to train more and improve our times as well as our overall fitness. Plus, getting a free windbreaker is reason enough to run it.
- Know how they are going to time you, if it is when the gun goes off compared to when you cross the start time.
- Pace yourself because you really do want to run and try to catch up with people who you size up to be about your fitness level.
- Skinny chicks that look like they are in shape struggle up hills—hilarious.
- Old guys can run fast . . . and they wear some of the best running outfits ever.
- Spandex lovers should start running because it's a sea of spandex-clad booties.
- Don't change your diet in the slightest because it will make you pay.
- Don't drink free energy drinks (especially milky ones) if you aren't used to them.
And most importantly
Sign up and do it, don't put it off, because it is loads of fun. There will always be someone slower than you, and you have nothing to worry about.