About a month ago John and I ran in the Forest City Road Races. He ran a PR in the 5K and I opted for the 10K.
For pre-race fuel the night before we made this vegan Pesto Gnocchi Soup from the Post Punk Kitchen. It was a great way to get some carbs that stuck with me for the race, and it made enough for leftovers. A+.
John and I both ran the 5K at Forest City RR last year, and the set up was pretty similar this time. The race leaves from Victoria Park in downtown London, home of the tamest squirrels I've ever seen. This one sort of looked at me as I walked by, and (because I'm weird) I said, "Hey, little buddy," and he ran right over, expecting me to have food.
Back to the race. The 5K started at 8:30, but the 10K didn't start until 10:00 - I'm guessing to allow people the chance to run both. It was sort of an inconvenience, but by the time John finished running we only had an hour to stand around, stretch, and for me to warm up.
The camera didn't exactly cooperate, but here's a picture of the 5K start. If you look hard enough you can see John's red hair on the right hand side.
The runners rounding the first corner. John was out of sight by the time I got this picture.
After about 20 minutes I knew it was time to head to the finish line on a different side of the park. John wanted to beat 23 minutes and I wanted to get a picture of him.
He was alone for a lot of the race - faster than the bulk of the runners, but not fast enough to be with the lead pack. It seemed like he was one of the first ones in - 30th over all, pretty good for a race this big. In the picture above he was gesturing to the crowd to cheer for him, and they did, especially after I yelled "GO JOOOOOOHN GOOOOOO!!!!" really loudly.
His time was just over 22 minutes, so he accomplished his goal. But now, like you'd expect, he really wants to beat 22 minutes. His time earned him 3rd in his age group. That place didn't come with its own award in this race, but I'm still really proud of him. It's a tough race to try to place in, the biggest in town.
It rained on the 5K runners briefly, but the weather looked like it would hold out until the end of the 10k. Not so. It sprinkled while we waited to congregate at the starting line. And with about 6 or 7 minutes until the start, it really began to rain serious rain. My feet were wet before I started running. The temperature felt colder than I expected (I think it was in the lower 40s with wind), so I kept the fleece jacket on that I planned to give to John to hold. I was definitely under dressed and wished I had some gloves. My hands were numb before we even started moving. It wasn't pretty. But what are you gonna do? I don't skip training runs because of the rain, and I sure as hell wouldn't skip a race that I'd payed for and trained for for months just because it's raining. Hail, maybe. Lightening, definitely. But it was just cold and windy and raining, so we ran anyways.
Despite the wind and rain, it was still manageable. I got a nasty side stitch in the first mile, but I slowed the pace a little and it gradually went away. There were a couple of hills, but the really tough one was in the last mile, and by then I just wanted to be done, so I kept moving. My goal was to set a new PR (my old one was about 64 minutes from the Halloween Haunting) and run a strong race. When I passed the 5K mark at 30:30, I knew it would be hard to break 60 minutes (the goal at the back of my mind), but that I could still set a new PR. We wound through campus and then Gibbons Park, one of my all time favorite running spots, and it was nice to run in such a familiar setting.
Somewhere in park I met up with this women who I talked with at the starting line. She and I knew we had similar time goals, and I drafted off of her for a little while before she started a conversation. We agreed to stick together and I appreciated her so much. She suggested we take the 9th KM easy so we could go fast on the last KM, and I agreed. She said it was important to her to stick with someone as much as possible, and I told her she was helping me a lot. And that's true - I was struggling mentally more than anything, my fleece was soaked and heavy, my shoes were filled with water, I was freezing, and my allergies picked up this week so I was also fairly congested. Not ideal conditions. But with a running partner it's easier to ignore all that stuff. I know I would have run a lot slower without her.
As we rounded the corner back to Victoria Park, we agreed to start really increasing the pace at a certain spot, and I lost her before the finish line. I looked for her afterward to say thank you, but I couldn't find her, and I was too exhausted to wander around much. John walked with me through the food tent and we sat down in another so that I could re-group and get out of the rain.
The only passable picture he took after the race. John LOVES goofy pictures of me in situations like this. And I hate them.
My time was 61:13 on my watch, and the chip time was about 15 seconds later (I think), so I was pleased. I still feel like I can do better and break 60 - or go significantly under 60 - but that goal will have to wait. Better weather would help, but crappy weather is always a possibility, so I don't like using it as an excuse. This race definitely reminded me of how it can be easier to run in the winter than in the spring. I plan to run during the comps, only 2-3 days a week, and nothing longer than 4 miles. It's not a time to focus on running, obviously, but a 30 minute exercise session is supposed to be really good for you brain, and I know that it helps me clear my head and reduce stress. So I'll run, but without a race date set afterward. There will be more 5Ks and 10Ks, and I know that sub-60 time is within my reach.
As I post this, we have 2.5 days left in the comps! They are due on Monday and I have a lot to catch up on with the blog, so I'll probably do a comps-round-up post. John and I also have some exciting plans for the rest of the summer that I'd like to write about here, too. Hope you're enjoying the summer weather!