- Catch Bronchitis the week before
- Don't run for 4 days
- Run 7 miles the day before
Eat 3 pounds dried unicorn meat
- Win the race
Place: 1/455 (1/36 Age Group)
Heart Rate: 207 average, 218 max
In my head, I'm not a fast runner. In my head I'm still the slightly overweight runner cranking out 10 minute miles on my trusty 3.0 mile loop. In fact, I can easily name half a dozen bloggers or friends who could beat me on any day at any distance. But, fortunately for me, I'm a very good 5K runner. Statistically, I've got much more top end speed than I do endurance. Well, and frankly none of those other faster runners showed up to the race I ran on Saturday! The result was the second win of my running career - and a 50 second 5K PR.
I seem to get a lot of random emails advertising races. But, a few weeks back one caught my eye as being can't miss. "The Nun Run" was a 5k and 10k put on by a Catholic charity that was near my inlaws house and actually fit into my busy running schedule. Best of all? They promised there would be real live Nuns there (is Nun a proper noun?) RUNNING THE RACE!! Well, I don't see how I could miss something like that.
The morning of the race I was a bit nervous. (My Heart Rate at the starting line was 135) I hadn't ran an all out 5K in quite some time ad wasn't quite sure what to expect. I knew that I was in the best shape of my life, but I hadn't done a ton of speedwork in the past few weeks and my Nun robe was still out at the dry cleaners. Step number 1 for running a good race: you've got to look the part. I knew that I could hold 6 min miles for the race, but I really wanted to get one of my new years resolutions and run in the 17:00s. 5:45 pace was the goal - and it was going to hurt.
Praying? Calling in divine favors?
Talking about tripping this "so called 'Boring Runner' wiener and taking 1st place?
See the Nun. See the Nun run. Run Nun, run!
Mile 1: Oh god... that was WAYYY too fast. (5:39 / mile)
The race was chip timed, but only at the finish so the crowd around the starting line was pretty thick. The race started on grass, so there wasn't a defined starting "line" so a bunch of kids and more inexperienced runners were well into the actual course. Since I wanted it to be as official as possible, that meant that I started a few rows back. Not ideal for the start, but I knew that I could make it up in short order. I'll admit that I had looked at the race results from last year and knew that I was going to be near the front if I could run my goal - so I just tried to run my own race.
You can just BARELY see me behind the two kids in blue shirts & the girl in the green
I figured it wouldn't be good to tell them "back of the line, shorty" at a Catholic race
As expected, when the starting gun went off (shot by a Nun, who else?) the little kids bolted off like.....Justin Beiber was waiting at the finish. The first 100m or so were on grass where we eventually transitioned onto sidewalk. I was running in about 10th at the 1/3 mile point when I realized that the crowd wasn't running sub 6 min miles like I wanted. So, what was I to do? I put on the afterburners and passed them all. I took the lead at the 0.5 mile mark, pulled up right on the lead bike, and never looked back. (Actually, I did look back - at every opportunity I had)
2/3 of the way through this mile we ran on another patch of grass and had to hop a curb onto another sidewalk. One thing that eventually got VERY frustrating about this race were the constant changes in footing. Grass, sidewalk, up, down, etc etc. Basically lots of times where I needed to slow down and pay attention to not falling on my face vs running.
Mile 2: Yep, it was too fast. UGHHH, this suuuuucks (6:06 / mile)
Honestly, I don't remember a ton of this mile. I do remember that it was rough. I started to feel burning in my lungs because of the too fast mile before and probably because of the bronchitis. Either that, or my chest was about to explode. If you would have stopped me at the time I'm sure I would have guessed the latter.
The second mile didn't have as many transitions from sidewalk to grass but it did have quite a few ups and downs. They weren't all that long but they were very steep. Because of the pace that I was running (Read: balls out) I wasn't able to gain anything on the downs but slowed down considerably on the ups. Also, I found out that while running 5:45 pace, it is nearly impossible for me to grab a cup of water without getting it all over myself AND the volunteer. In fact, I even managed a raspy "sorry!" as I ran by leaving a mist of water in my wake.
By this point my vision was starting to get a bit fuzzy. I couldn't see any of the other runners behind me when I would look, but with the various people around, I constantly ran like I was being chased. My 5K was essentially like a zombie movie.
Mile 3 & Extra: Breath in....breath out....Breath in...Breath out.... (6:13 total time - 5:39 / mile pace)
At this point, I was pushing with essentially everything I had. The 10K runners who had started 10 minutes before the 5K were starting to get really thick so having the lead bike REALLY helped out. He would clear a path and I would follow - my own personal snow plow. I would guess that he probably saved me 10 seconds pretty easily because I didn't have to alter my speed at all to get around the traffic.
This is probably my most favorite picture of me running. (into the finisher chute)
Two thumbs up for good form!
As I finished, I did the obligatory post-5K stumble. I always say that if you have enough energy at the end of a race that short to hoop and holler then you didn't run fast enough! In fact, I might have accidentally told the volunteers to "hurry up" getting off my timing chip - to which I immediately felt horrible and gave them a big sweaty Adam-hug as an apology.
As I was stumbling around, some guy came up to me and said he was actually the first person to finish! It took a moment to register, but turns out he cut the course "accidentally" and ran about a half mile shorter course than the rest of us. Thankfully that didn't cause any headaches with the results.
One thing that I found when you win a race is that LOTS of people love to talk to you. It's awesome because I honestly rarely get to talk about running. My wife can only tolerate a few minutes of hard core running before she goes bonkers and gives me the blank stare of apathy and I rarely get the chance to run with others. So, when given the opportunity to talk running, I strap on my scuba suit and dive in head first.
She resisted my swagger, but given more time she might have cracked
(seriously, is this not what you expected a Nun to look like?)
Dave - first time EVER racer! Finished in 20:45.
Dean a buddy on twitter & Daily Mile came and found me
After I had chatted with all sorts of people, there was still time left to kill. So, what else is there to do while killing time? Take stupid pictures.
Eventually, the results were sorted out and I got my picture taken with the 2nd and 3rd place finishers.
Overall, the race was an amazing experience. It is certainly a different experience leading a race than not. In some respects it is awesome. Whenever anyone finds out that you ran a race and inevitably asks in a smart assed tone "did you win?" you can respond with a curt, "actually, I did win, jackass". Plus, I love to talk running and having lots of people come up to me and want to talk running was awesome. But, honestly there are some downsides. You're running on your own and essentially setting your own pace. It was basically like a 3.1 mile all-out run by myself. Fun to watch, mentally painful to execute.
If you always do what you've always done
Then you'll always get what you've always got
Frankly, the thing that I learned the most was that with a lot of hard work, the 10 min/pace runner can be faster than he ever dreamed possible. Indeed faster than he still believes possible. That is certainly something worth 17:59 minutes of suffering for.