What: “5K” road race (actually 3.5 miles)
Who: Just me, with a whole bunch of Shammies
Splits (according to Simon):
-Mile 1: 10:11
-Mile 2: 10:47
-Mile 3: 11:22
-Mile 3.5: 5:08
Recap: Kick in for Kids is a race I’ve been meaning to do for a few years now. I remember seeing signs for it when I first started running, but back then it was a 4-mile race (hence the “official” name of Kick in 4 Kids) and 4 miles seemed way beyond me at the time. I actually signed up for it last year, but between my ankle injury and it falling on the same day as my good friend’s baby shower, it just wasn’t meant to be. So this year I was determined to run it!
Packet pickup was held the night before, but I stupidly lost track of time and forgot about it until it was already over. Oops! I got to race day pickup earlier than I ordinarily would have, just so that I’d have time to grab my packet and bring it home… I was flying solo for this race and so couldn’t rely on Drew to hold my stuff (or “be my pack mule” as he always puts it), and didn’t like the idea of stashing it in a corner of the parking lot, so back home I went. Race swag was frill-free – a tech t-shirt (for the first 200 people who registered) and a packet full of advertisements for fitness clubs and physical therapy offices in the area. I dumped that stuff home, pinned my bib, and returned to the race to warm up.
And warm up I did… temperature-wise! Race day was the first day it hit 70 degrees in this area since 2014, and I was wholly unprepared. My last race happened when it was 20-something degrees, and all my other runs outside have been in the low-50s at the warmest. Then here comes race day, with a blazing sun, no clouds, and temps in the upper 60s/low 70s at race time (11am). Plus the course had hardly any shade at all. It was going to be interesting.
My warm-up run felt a little rough and wore me out (and I didn’t even run that far!) and, given the heat, I knew I should take it easy out of the gate, despite having been training at faster speeds at track workouts. I started at the back of the pack and ran what felt wicked easy, but was around a 10-minute pace. It amazed me that that speed felt easy… usually in hot races I go at a 12-minute pace and think it’s fast!
I kept trying to reign myself in and not go too fast, knowing that I’d struggle later in the race, but I got caught up in it all and was passing people left and right for the first mile, which I finished in 10:11. I was feeling pretty good at this point, and tried to keep up the same pace for the second mile. I slowed a little, since the second mile had several uphills (the first mile was mostly downhill) but continued to feel decent. I completed the second mile in 10:47.
Then I started feeling rough. The second mile had been in the only partly shaded section of the course, and the third mile was in complete sun. I had worn a hat, partly so that I wouldn’t get sunburned on my head/face, and partly because I figured it would help me squint less (my sunglasses do nothing), but hats tend to hold all the heat my running-furnace of a body emits, and during this part of the race it felt like my head was pulsating with all the heat. Around Mile 2.5 I had to slow to a walk because I thought I might faint, but walking ended up feeling worse than running. I focused on breathing and was super thankful that I had decided to bring my water bottle at the last minute, and walked for maybe a quarter-mile before trying to run again.
Around the Mile 3 marker is when things got confusing. The marker was at an intersection, and then there was a “3.1” marker a bit down the road, and that’s where Simon beeped for Mile 3. Now, everywhere this race was advertised it was billed as a 5K, and I had thought I signed up for a 5K. So when I passed the 3.1 marker and knew the finish line was still quite a ways away, I was partly flummoxed and partly ticked off that I still had more to run when I felt like I was about to keel over! However, I knew I was close to the finish, and could hear the crowd cheering, so I willed myself to just get it over with.
This last bit of the race I’m pretty proud of. All I wanted to do was lay down in a kiddie pool full of ice, but I pushed myself to make it to the end. I knew the last bit of the race was a cruel uphill finish that I really didn’t want to tackle, but I forced that thought out of my head, focused on breathing and not fainting, and chugged along. My stride shortened as I chugged, so I assumed I was going pretty slow, but frequent checks of Simon showed I was managing a 9:55 or so, which was a pleasant surprise. As I got to the last corner I had a good-sized cluster of people ahead of me, and I took off and passed all of them. I just wanted to finish and be done running so bad, plus it felt kind of good to pass the people who had passed me during my quarter-mile of walking. The crowd cheered really loud as I sprinted past everyone, but all I had my eyes on was the lady handing out bottles of water past the finish line!
I crossed the line, grabbed my water, and wobbled off to find some shade. I spotted tons of Shammies singlets as I lurched around, and I wanted to stop to talk to people, but I also knew I had to sit down before I fell down. I found a quiet spot next to a building and sat down on the pavement, guzzling my water and trying to make my head stop pulsating. (This is when I took my one race picture. Not really sure why I thought it was a good time to do so…) Finally it did, and I got up and joined my run club in post-race festivities – a massive cookout with free beer, including shandies which I was chuffed to see! (Usually Shammies-related festivities only have Bud Light, which isn’t exactly my preferred post-race beverage.) What better time to enjoy a shandy than when standing in the sun after just finishing the first hot race of the year?
I don’t usually hang out at post-race parties, often because Drew is with me and I feel bad making him stand around after having just stood around while I ran, so it was fun to just hang out with the Shammies guilt-free. Everyone was in high spirits, and a ton of Shammies placed, so there was a lot of cheering and hugging when they got their awards, and plenty of general frivolity. I may have stood out in the sun for too long (I had doused myself in sunscreen before the race, but had sweat most of it off by this point), but it was a good time and I’m glad I did it!
As for my result… I had kept Simon set to pace during the race, because I wanted to see how close to my goal pace I could stay given the heat, and even with my walk break I was pretty happy with my pace overall. So when I checked the posted results during the party, I was disappointed to see that I had finished in 36:22. I tried to shake it off, telling myself that it was actually a really good time considering how hot it was – usually the heat brings my times up over 40:00 – but I couldn’t shake the disappointment since my pace had seemed so good.
The more I thought about it though, the more it didn’t add up. Even the posted results said my overall pace had been good for me at 10:24… I had a vague memory of last year’s Old Port 5K, which I had finished with a respectable 34:03, with a pace of 10:40-something… yeah, something’s not adding up. Then it hit me – I passed a 3.1 sign way before the actual end of the race, and people had been giving the race organizer a half-joking hard time about how the race wasn’t actually a 5K. The course was actually 3.5 miles! Once I realized that, the 36-minute finish was actually really good, especially given the heat that I was unprepared for! Huzzah!
Apart from being incorrectly advertised as a 5K, Kick in for Kids was a great race, one that I’ll probably do again in the future. There were tons of volunteers along the well-marked course, packet pickup was easy, and it was a good deal – $25 (pre-registration) for a chip-timed race with police detail, a tech t-shirt, entry into a ton of raffles with great prizes, and a free cookout afterwards with unlimited food and beer – not bad! Plus it’s a Shammies favorite, so I’m sure I’ll be kicking in for kids for years to come!