Out of this World

I had been looking for a 5k to sign up for so I could try to reach one of my 2013 goals. My 5k goal is to run a sub 30. I've gotten so close, but never quite accomplished it. Actually I did once, in London. I ran a 28:09. But it wasn't chip timed, and wasn't official - so to me it doesn't count. 

My current PR is 30:58, and during training I've gotten to a 30:13. So close. The last 4 mile run I did I kept a 9:49min/mile pace, so I know I an get under 30 for a 5k, I just haven't done it. I hadn't run a 5k in a while, so I figured I needed to sign up and assess what my time would be during a timed race and see if I could reach my goal.

There weren't a lot of races for me to choose from. Either they fell on weekend that I was already signed up for a half, or weekends that I worked, and they were too far for me to get to the race, run in, and get back in time for work. Bummer. Then I stumbled across a 5k in Starkey Park. This race was very close to home. I worked that day but I could pull it off. It was called from the Sun to Pluto. There was a 5k and 10k option and it started at 8am (or so I thought). It would take me about 30 min to run the race, then I would head home, clean up, and be at work at 10am for my nice 10 hour shift. It could be done. So I registered. 

The night before the race I was reviewing the information and realized it started at 8:30, not 8, so I didn't have much time to get done, get home, and get to work. I was talking to my friend Tim about the race, he was considering doing it, and he was looking at the results from the previous year. It was a small race and the top person in my age group finished in 29:xx. I an't remember the exact time, but not only could I possibly reach my goal of a sub 30, but maybe finish first in my age group? Such is the benefit of small, unknown races. 

Saturday morning came and I headed over to Starkey. I parked next to a nice woman from New York and we chatted about the NYC Marathon, it's cancellation this past year, and how she had run it for the past 20 somewhat years. We walked together to get our bibs and I was cold. Good temps for a run though. I didn't like to complain about the cold when I was running a race. It usually meant a PR or at least better performance on my part. 

I walked back to my car to put my stuff away and met up with Tim who had decided to run the race because he's super speedy and would make everyone else look slow. We lined up behind the tiny start line and then the race started. What I wasn't expecting was that the race was going to be a trail run. I could swear that the description online said it was on the bike path, which I had run myself a few times, and done the Frankenfooter half marathon on. But no, this race was in the grass, and mud, and sandy, dirty mess. Very shortly after I started the race I realized I was not going to reach my goal of finishing in a time under 30 minutes. I wouldn't even PR. 
Uneven Sandy Area of the trail.

I reached a sandy section of the race and it was hard to keep balance. I thought to myself that my worst 5k time had been on the beach at the Pier 60 race. This terrain was worse. It wasn't even like on the shore. My shin started to hurt and I had to walk a little bit. I was getting frustrated with myself, but I kept going. I looked down at my watch and realized that my pace had slowed. Then I stopped to try to help some 10k-ers who didn't hear the directions of how they were supposed to run. They were going in the opposite direction.

I kept going forward and slowed down a bit to avoid hurting myself. My shin was bothering me a bit, and I was trying to avoid tripping on tree roots and twigs. Finally I came around and saw the finish. Time - 32:20. Not my worst 5k time, but definitely not what I was expecting. I knew I couldn't compare my time doing a trail run with my normal 5k time, but I was still slightly disappointed in myself. 

I saw Tim and asked him how he did, but his experience was even worse. He and another guy were in the lead, and the course was not clearly marked, so they wound up running 4.65 miles for the 5k. I guess that is a big disadvantage of a small race. If you are fast, you may get lost. Me, I don't have that problem and always have someone in front of me to follow.

After the race I saw some of the Suncoast Striders, who do their Saturday long runs in Satrkey park right where the race was taking place. I got gatorade and bananas and kind words about what I thought was a disappointing run. Then I had to head off to work before I was going to be late.

Smiling after the race, on my way home to get ready for work.

Later that day I checked the results and realized I was actually first place in my age group. What a surprise. I know it was a small race, and that normally that time wouldn't win anything, but for that day I was number 1. I had won an age group award for the first time. I was happy. Then I realized I would have gotten a medal had a hung around and not had to rush off to work. I wound up speaking to the race director and she met up with me this past Wednesday to make sure I got my medal. 

My 1st place age group medal! Yay!

For me it was an important medal to have. It showed me that even when I think my race wasn't that good I'm still accomplishing something. I'm still out there and I'm still doing something some people won't even try. And for that I won an age group award. There were only 2 other people in my age group, but even though it was a small race with not a lot of people being super competitive, it was something I would have never expected and something I can be proud of.

And now I look forward to my upcoming weekend of races at Gasparilla!