What: 5-mile road race
Who: Me and my Couch to 5 Miler classmates, plus a coworker, with moral support from Drew
Time: 53:30 Automatic personal record!
Splits (according to Simon):
-Mile 1: 10:36
-Mile 2: 10:37
-Mile 3: 11:01
-Mile 4: 10:55
-Mile 5: 10:06
Photos: (click to open larger versions)
Recap: Yikes… this recap is way later than I intended it to be! Let’s get down to it, shall we? (Apologies for how disjointed this post reads!)
As I’ve written about before, I signed up for a Couch to 5-Miler class through my work’s GetFit program, and this Cambridge CityRun race was the end goal for that class. In our first class, I set a time goal for the race (finish in under 55 minutes) based on my time for the leg I ran of the Mill Cities Relay, and also set a goal to stick to the training plan we were given.
Everything started out peachy keen, and then I hurt my rib cartilage during a coughing fit and was sidelined for an unfortunate amount of time. I missed a bunch of training classes, couldn’t stick to my training plan, and was just hoping that I’d still be able to run the race, let alone meet any kind of goal times. I think I managed one run in the month leading up to the CityRun, so I didn’t have high hopes for race day.
Packet pickup for the race was simple enough – Marathon Sports had set hours for pickup at their Cambridge store all week before the race, and there was day-of pickup as well. I chose in-store pickup and it was super easy. In fact, I was the only one there for pickup, so it was super fast as well! I got my bib, some safety pins, and a shirt, and that was all for swag.
I had been keeping an eye on the weather for race day all week, and had been so excited that the day looked to be mid-40s and sunny. Warmth at last! But, being New England, and this being the winter from hell, of course the weather wasn’t going to cooperate. As I walked from the car to the starting line, here’s what the weather looked like:
The sun was relatively warm, but the wind was frikkin cold. So I decked myself out in tights, a hat, and thermal base layers and grumbled about how sick I am of this winter!
The GetFit team had a table near the start/finish line where we all gathered. I expected that our 5-miler instructor, who was also running the race, would lead us in warmups beforehand, but everyone just milled around and chatted. When I saw the instructor getting ready to take off on a solo warmup run, I jumped at the chance to run with her. We ran at a good clip for maybe a quarter-mile and then everyone started gathering at the starting line. Had I known I was on my own for warmups, I would have actually done some on my own! Oh well.
The starting line was at the bottom of a hill, and I assumed we’d be starting uphill. Thankfully we started downhill, but the “flat” description of the course was pretty inaccurate. There were some hills! Not giant ones, but we certainly felt the inclines… especially the steepest one in the last mile! Despite my lack of training and complete lack of hill running all winter, I was able to run them all without having to take walk breaks. That made me happy!
What also made me happy was the unexpected running buddy I had for the race. I’m currently part of a “strike force” [to be read as STRIKE FORCE!!] at work, and one of my colleagues from that appeared at the GetFit table before the race. I had no idea she was running the race, and we were both excited to see a familiar, friendly face. We stuck with each other for almost the whole race, which ended up being just what I needed… running with a new person made me not want to slow her down, so I pushed myself to keep going several times when I would have stopped had I been running alone. We only separated with about a half-mile to go, when she pulled off to the side of the road looking like she was going to lose her breakfast. She waved me on to keep going, which I felt torn about… I was running at a decent pace and looked to be close to meeting my goal time, so I didn’t want to stop, but I also didn’t want to abandon the poor girl on the side of the road! Luckily our 5-miler instructor appeared, having already finished the race and doubled back to see how her proteges were faring, and she ran to help my buddy, leaving me free to dash for the finish.
I was pretty stoked at this point – I had only stopped to walk ever so briefly at the first water stop (I managed to run through the second one and was able to drink and run without choking, which I was quite proud of!) and despite not being adequately prepared for running a 5-mile race, I was doing way better than expected. I even got a second wind as I neared the final quarter-mile… it helped to see one of my classmates ahead of me. I really hate when my competitive side rears its ugly head, but I had been the fastest runner in the class and did NOT want someone else to finish ahead of me [insert sheepish face here] so when I spotted the GetFit t-shirt in front of me I kicked into the next gear and flew past her, all the way to the finish line and to a finish time 1:30 faster than my goal time!! I was so giddy, and as a result my official finish line picture is me with a ridiculously goofy grin on my face. Yay!
The race itself was pretty okay. For my first race of the year and first race back from injury, I was chuffed at how well I did, but I’m not sure I’d run the CityRun again. It was certainly not flat (lies!!), and there were one or two places where the course was a little confusing and no volunteers or signs were present to help direct the runners. Also, while it was nice to run around Fresh Pond and not on the streets, the paths were still open to the public and were surprisingly packed with people out for Sunday morning walks with their dogs and strollers, making it a bit of an obstacle course. These things couldn’t really be helped, and to be fair, the registration fee was really low compared to other races I’ve done in Cambridge, so the lack of swag or frills or perfection is understandable. That said, I don’t think it’ll be a repeat race for me.
(One bonus that comes from writing this recap so long after the fact is that I know about the training run I did with the Shammies the week after the race, in which I beat my 5-mile time again! Woohoo!)
Have you ever had a race go surprisingly well despite injury or lack of training?
What’s your favorite distance to race?
I quite enjoyed the 5-mile distance!