It was time to shake the rust off and run my first "distance" race of the season at the Autism 5k. After running a course-best at the TC One Mile, I was optimistic that I could run a decent time. Yesterday morning the weather was so stormy I was worried the race would be cancelled. A couple of times on the drive to Lake Calhoun the rain was so heavy that people were slowing down to 30 mph on the interstate and there were frequent flashes of lightning
When I got to the race, however, the rain had let up a bit and it wasn't pouring so heavily. I wore my trash bag poncho over to packet pickup, got my number, and went back to my car to stay warm and dry until I warmed up.
About 20 minutes before the race, I jogged for about a mile to warm up. When I got over to the start line, I didn't see anyone lined up yet, and it was only 10 minutes before the race started. I thought that was a little weird, but I didn't think too much of it and I went to look for some coworkers who were also running the race.
I found Crystal, another teacher at my school, standing under a tent. She told me that most of the other teachers weren't coming because of the rain. She also told me that they'd postponed the start until 9:15 because of the lightning.. Oops. That meant my warmup was more than a little mistimed, and that I'd now be standing around for an extra 15 minutes.
Oh well. There was nothing I could do about it, so I just chatted with Crystal for awhile, and then went and did another short warmup as my legs were starting to feel a little stiff again. I ended up running almost two miles before the race started. It was unfortunate because on my first warmup my legs were feeling pretty good, but after standing around in the somewhat chilly weather they didn't feel as good.
Thankfully there wasn't lightning again before the start, so at 9:15 they sent us off. After holding out and waiting for the lightning to stop, about two minutes into the race there was a giant flash of lightning, followed by several more throughout the race. I'm glad mother nature waited until it was too late to stop us and that no one got zapped. She was not kind, however, with the amount of liquid she poured on us from the sky. About the time the lightning flashed, the rain also picked up to nearly a torrential downpour.
I definitely did not race this one very well. At the start three guys took off in front. One of them "looked" like a speedy runner, the other two looked like they were going out too fast. I'd looked at past winning times of this race, and honestly I wanted to try to contend for the lead.
Unfortunately I made the mistake of not making contact with the leader early in the race. I tucked in at the back of the pack of three, and, like I suspected, the third guy dropped off in about a quarter mile. Then, I made the mistake of staying behind the second place guy just a little too long, allowing the lead runner to gap us significantly. By the time I went around the second place guy, he'd built up around a ten second lead.
I don't know if I would have run better if I would have tried to hang with him earlier, but I don't think I would have run much worse. I never did make contact with him, and he ended up finishing 21 seconds ahead of me.
My final time was 17:35. I wasn't too thrilled, especially with the way I raced, but I shouldn't be upset. Last year my first two official 5ks were 17:39 and 17:30 before I broke through with a 16:18 at the Med City 5k in Rochester. I'm not expecting that kind of breakthrough this year with almost no mileage base. Considering my total lack of running this winter and the crummy weather, I suppose I should be satisfied with the result. I'd probably be happier if I'd have raced a little better and put myself in a better position early.
Today it's off for a long run, and next weekend I'll be pacing my first marathon of the year. It should be a blast!