Tuesday, September 6, 2011

5K Race Report and the Running Bug

Dude. Hell yes.

I killed my 5K this weekend. Like, blowed it up real good.

A little back story.

Last summer, I thought I wanted to run another half-marathon. Well, I did want to run another one, I just wasn't anywhere close to the shape I needed to be in. At all. I hadn't been running as much as I should have been, and I hadn't been keeping up with my diet, well, at all.

But I'm stubborn. So I took my fat ass (approximately 30 lbs overweight then) and tried to force it.

After two and a half weeks of running, I, predictably, hurt myself. I pulled my hamstring, and it was not good. It was still hurting me back in the spring when I first started playing softball. There was no way I could continue training without hurting myself worse.

The then-girlfriend and I found a 5K right in my neighborhood that was going to take place in early September, and I decided I needed to run it. I was so disappointed about hurting myself and quitting training that I needed something.

So we ran it. I ran the whole race, but not very well. My hamstring hurt throughout, but it's time to be honest with myself. The hamstring was not the reason for my problems. It was because I was in terrible shape. I was, quite frankly, fat -- at least 30-35 lbs overweight by then -- and there's no way I could have run a good race.

I finished in 32:06 (a 10:20 per mile pace). I was OK with it. I guess. I blamed the hamstring for the slow time. But we all know what the reason was now.

You may have heard, but I've lost, like, 40 pounds since April. I weighed in at 188 today (Boom.). What's up 180s? Haven't seen you in a while -- like five or six years, actually. Don't worry, I'm only passing through on my way to the 170s though.

So given my new-found fitness, I'd been looking forward to this year's Kentlands 5K for several weeks. I started looking up the schedule and registration in July, and I was just generally pumped.

Saturday finally arrived. I put on my Underarmour compression shirt, my newly purchased Nike running shorts and I could feel the adrenaline start pumping already. (Side note: it is stunning to me that I feel comfortable enough and, honestly, look almost good enough to pull off running in only an Underarmour shirt. I did NOT see that coming a few months ago. I'll take it!)

I wanted to push myself, so I got in line with the 8-9 min/mile pace group (I ran with the 9-10 min/mile pace group last year, and still couldn't keep up). I'd been running four miles a few times a week for a while now, and I could finish my first mile in just more than 8 minutes, but my pace slowed after that. I knew the adrenaline and race atmosphere was going to help though. I wanted to shave at least a minute off of each mile, so I figured finishing in around 29 minutes would be a good enough improvement for me to feel satisfied.

I started two minutes after the gun time (due to other pace groups starting before mine), and I was off. Maaan let me tell you. Races are something else. VERY easy to get addicted to it. When I hit play on my iPod and "The Distance" by Cake started. Whew. I got the chills. I was fucking pumped. I must have looked like a complete idiot air-drumming while I ran. Suck it.

The Kentlands neighborhood is pretty hilly. I walk Allie through it twice a day, so I'm very familiar with the roads. If I had to guess, I'd say at least a third of the race is uphill, including a lot of mile 3.

When I got to mile 1, the clock said 10:11, so some quick math told me I was doing pretty well on pace. I got some water, almost entirely missed my mouth because I didn't stop running and continued on.

The last third of mile 2, leading up to the clock was uphill. It was tough. I don't remember exactly what the clock said, but I knew I was still on a pretty solid pace. I stopped for five seconds to drink some water. I counted to five and took off again. There was a brief downhill period, but I knew we were coming up to the main street where I walk Allie. It was straight uphill for approximately half a mile.

Andrew W.K.'s "Party Hard" came on right as I hit the bottom of the hill, and I just said, you know what? Fuck it. Let's go. I pushed it. I pushed it like I haven't pushed myself in a long time on a run.

When I got to the top of the hill I thought I was going to throw up. And, strangely, it felt pretty good. Something about getting yourself to a point where your body is like, "please no more," and you say, "fuck you, let's go." I felt it during my half-marathon, and I felt it again for the first time since the half-marathon on Saturday. I want more, man.

The steep uphill climb led into a nice downhill break before the final stretch. I caught my breath as much as I could, and I prepared myself. When I hit the bottom of the hill, I was going to go all out through the finish line. I needed to make 29 minutes.

As I entered the homestretch, "Monkey Wrench" by the Foo Fighters came on, and I punched it up another gear -- well, whatever I had left anyway. I wasn't going to miss my goal because I didn't try hard enough or run hard enough.

I started seeing stars, and I was having trouble breathing by the time I sprinted across the finish line. But I saw 29 right there on the clock. Made my goal. Felt good, man.

Then the fog started to clear from my head, the stars started to dissipate and it hit me. Wait a second, I didn't start until two minutes after the clock started. My official time might be much better than that.

So I waited, and they posted the results. 26:57 (!!!). I broke 27 minutes. Man. LET. US. GO. I love everybody.

I found the official results online over the weekend. I somehow gained a second, but I'll take 26:58. My pace was 8:41. I love it. I'm hooked. I couldn't run ONE solitary mile in 8:41 a few months ago, never mind average 8:41 over more than three miles. I improved on my total time by more than FIVE minutes. I improved on my pace by almost 1:40 per mile. So while the total time may not be impressive to, you know, competitive runners, I think we can all agree that's some ridiculous improvement.

I was talking to my friend Lindsey about my 5K and the half-marathon she was about to run, and I mentioned something about another half-marathon for myself, and she said, "uh oh, you've got the bug." And it's totally true. The more you run, the more you want to run. Running in a real race makes you want to run in more races.

I found a half-marathon in Bermuda in the middle of January. I absolutely need to do it. I feel called to it and compelled to do it. Training would start in about six or seven weeks. It obviously won't be cheap, but if I can find a way to do it, I need it. If it's not that one, it'll just be another one. Maybe in the spring. I need to run another half-marathon now. I feel a competitive fire back in me that I haven't felt in way too long. I am fired up man.

I am in decent shape now. I can handle the training in a way I never could have before. I felt absolutely NO soreness after the 5K. I ran another four miles yesterday, and I'll run four more tomorrow, rain or shine. I can't wait to start training for another half-marathon again.

But mostly, I really can't wait to just get out and run some more.

"Reluctantly crouched at the starting line,
engines pumping and thumping in time."

Man, let's GO.


1 comment:

  1. Really happy for you BG. Races are a big step and it will be astonishing to see your times go down. I remember when I first started out I was running 9+ minute miles and all you do is improve.