TL;DR: I made my goal, I won a prize, I had a great day.
Today was the Freaky 5k, sponsored by Hardy Girls, Healthy Women. This was my second year running it, and I was very excited to see how I would compare to last year. I’ve been running more this summer and fall, and wondered how it would translate when it came to this race, and then this week I was fighting a bug and my usual 3.25 runs were more like 2.3 because I just couldn’t get around that last mile loop. I joked to myself that I was just “tapering.”
The weather today was supposed to be (and ended up being) gorgeous, but for the race it was foggy and damp. This year, I took the whole family – I really wanted my girls to see their mom doing something like this, and the mission of HGHW is one that is kind of all about that, so it was a great race to bring them to. It also helped that our friend Tami was running it, and her husband is Dave’s best friend dating back to 8th grade, and those guys got to hang out while we ran and swap homebrew when we were done, and that definitely made it easier for everyone. (The company. Not the homebrew.) There was no chip timing this year (I think there was last year?) so I was extra nervous about meeting my goal of a sub 40 minute time. Which is a slow goal for many runners, but that’s what I like about running. It’s MY race, MY goals, and I get to set the bar wherever I want. Last year, my time was 43:22, and I really thought I could make it this year.
I set my app to do intervals of 8 minutes running and 3 minutes walking. Last year, the race was set up differently and there was a little walk from the registration area to the start, so I was counting on that to be my warmup walk, like I do when I go running in the morning, but this time you registered right AT the start line so I didn’t get that. I went too fast, probably, to start, and it’s all downhill so my shins were hurting a bit, but I made it through that interval, and felt good. I was passing and being passed by a pair of M&Ms (lots of people in costume!) but mostly I was on my own. I eventually left the M&Ms behind for good, and then the next person I passed was a woman who was younger, thinner, and looked more “runnerly” than I ever have. She would run and then walk and then she’d hear me clomping away behind her and turn around and I could pretty much read her thoughts “oh shit, SHE is going to pass me?” But I did, and for good, in the last mile.
Because I did the same race last year, I also knew what to expect on the course. Last year, there was this great spot just before the giant hill that you end on where several kids soccer matches were happening, and kids lined up on the sidewalk to high five runners. I was so hoping they’d be there again, because it was such a lift for me last year, and sure enough, they were. And in fact, my app told me it was time to walk, but I was NOT going to WALK through the high fivers, so I ended up running more like 10:30 or 11 minutes in order to save face with them (so I probably owe my sub-40 to them) but it was just so great. And I figured I’d make up the walking time on the hill at the end.
And I did. The hill is just so steep, and it’s where it ENDS, so I just want to be done, and I wanted to run into the finish. So I walked the first half, and near the top I saw a man standing and that was my point where I’d start to run, and as I crested the hill, Tami, who’d finished several minutes earlier, jogged down with Ingrid so that Ingrid could run with me for a little bit. When I saw the clock, though, and knew my time was in reach, I kind of left Ingrid in the dust and just pushed through. I never know where the time ENDS, so I ran through the whole roped off area just in case (and learned later that it ends right at the clock.) It took me a minute to catch my breath, and unlike last year there was no water or anything available there, but once I had cooled down for a minute we went and waited for Diana and her sister (who was running it the first time) and we cheered them in, too.
After they were in, we headed back to the registration area in search of water (I think the logistics were better last year, all around, the tables for the end of the race were hard to find, and I think that’s why no one was there. Unless they announced it before the race, but because of the acoustics and sound system, no one could hear anything, so I don’t know…) and then it came up that official times were being posted, so Tami went up and got hers and I went to check mine, and when I gave my name, the organizer said “OH! Wait! You won an award!” Now, I knew it wasn’t for my time, or my costume, but I couldn’t imagine how my fundraising could be award-worthy, I only raised $261… but apparently I was number 1! On the FirstGiving site, there were others ahead of me, but they are all affiliated with HGHW or something, so they weren’t in the running for awards. I had no idea! So I won a gift certificate for a massage and a gift card to a brewhouse in Waterville. Um, okay! That was a total surprise. ANd if you look at my finish line photo, you can see the sparkle skirt I ran in, which is what I challenged my sponsors with – if I hit $250, I would run in a sparkly skirt. Purple won for the color.
The other thing that made this race so great, was that this was a much more challenging course than I usually run. I pulled it up on Runkeeper, though, and was confused — it actually looked easier than my neighborhood run, which I KNOW is easier. Then I realized that Runkeeper doesn’t scale the elevation graph, or even provide a number to show the scale. If you trace the line with your mouse, it will give you details, but it doesn’t show scale. Which is huge. I have spent a good 30-40 minutes finding a site that would show the elevations on the same scale, and you can see the difference below:
And here’s my neighborhood run. See how intense Runkeeper makes it look? But on the same scale as the Freaky5k, you can see just how flat it is. Which just lends credibility to that last hill of the Freaky 5k. It is steeeeeep. And long. And I made it. Also, above, if you look at the pace line on the bottom graph, you can totally see where those soccer girls pushed me to run for longer than I *ever* have before. Thanks, girls.
So, today, I am pretty proud of this PR. And I’m glad that I could show my girls why I run, since they see me leave (on Sundays) and know I leave (on weekdays, they just aren’t up yet) and they can now get a better idea of why I do it, and what it means to run your own race.
ETA, months later: I never put in my time! I finished in 39:47. On the official race results page, they messed it up and have me as the next finisher, but I saw the clock myself and KNOW that this pic is accurate: