Sunday, February 14, 2010

5K for Valentines Day

I am a runner - I may be slow, knock-kneed, a bit tall, and "stocky" for the running world, but I am a runner.  As the weeks go on I am slowly (and I mean slooooowly) gaining confidence in that assertion.  To put my running skills to the test Mike and I signed up for a 5K run the day before Valentine's Day in Cardiff, Wales.

Overall the race was OK.  I never got into a rhythm so felt tired and heavy.  We left Bristol in plenty of time to find the race, get parking, and warm up.  But, construction in the area led to a change in the start/finish line.  I forgot to print off the latest race map so we had to rely on our memories to figure out where to park.  That would have been fine if there had not also been a HUGE rugby match between Wales and Scotland going on the same day in the same location, across the street from the park.  This just made us more confused as to where to go.  But I did enjoy seeing the Scottish fans decked out in amazing kilts and hats, sporting their love of the game and their team (and for some reason I find a man in a kilt very sexy...) 

 But we found the parking lot, and a map of the new start/finish line next to the pay station made my nerves calm down for a while.  That is until I realized we were walking on the other side of the river, away from the start.  With only 20 minutes till kick off I was growing cranky, afraid that we were going to miss the whole 5K.  Mike stopped another runner who we thought knew where to go - turns out she is Canadian and also a bit lost (of course we find the one Canadian in Cardiff)!  Needless to say, after a few more inquiries we were pointed in the right direction - to bad the parking lot was a mile way from the start of the race .  Who in the hell plans a race with the parking and start line a third of the distance of the whole race?   So our "warm-up" became a quick jog to the start line.   
Once there we had 2 minutes till the start.  My 1 hour free time had quickly dissipated to 2 minutes.  I don't know why but I was annoyed, agitated, and just wanted to sit down and pout like a little kid.  IT'S NOT FAIR!!!  But I got over it once the gun sounded and people took off.  The 5K "fun run" of this larger 10K race was un-chipped meaning I was not going to get an "official" time so I started my stop watch and tried to just take the run as a practice race to test my pacing and see if the illness I suffered from over the past week was going to affect my performance.

It was a nice sunny day  - windy as hell, but nice nonetheless.  I just never got into the run.  It was strange but I could feel the affects of being sick off and on for 3 weeks in my legs.  They...just...wouldn't...GO.  I was in a pack by myself with runners 30 seconds ahead of me and 30 second behind me.  I was hoping for someone near me that I could try to keep up with, using them as my pacer and, if big enough, as a wind guard.  But as luck would have it I was by myself.  After about 27 minutes I had to take a 1 minute walk break.  I couldn't see the finish line and thought I must really be slow.  By 30 minutes I was confused, knowing that the finish must be somewhere close, as there was no way I was running anything slower than 12 minutes/mile.  Then it dawned on me - the damn course was a lot longer than 5 kilometers!  At the 5K point the signs had us turning back to the finish line, another 0.5 miles away!  Including 2 minutes of walking I clocked a 34:58 minute 5K, but 40:30 minute overall race.  I was ok with the 5K time as I just wanted to get my time between 11:20 and 11:30 minutes/mile - a pace I want for the half marathon and one in which I know I can finish the race.  But damn, it would have been nice to know AHEAD OF TIME that the 5K race was actually a bit longer than that.  

As I crossed the finish line I saw Mike there holding a red gift bag.  I came up to him and asked if we got a prize at the end of the race and he looked back at me, smiled, and said "No, I won the 5K and so got a bottle of wine!"  At that moment all the annoyance, tiredness, and fatigue left my body and I gave him a big ass smile.  With a time of 27:36 Mike had managed to cross the finish line before any other 5K fun runner.  Even though I was disappointed a little with my time and the organization of the race, I was so happy for Mike that all that went away.  So I come back to where I started and say again that I am runner.  Although I am slow, knock-kneed, a bit tall and tad "stocky" I can run with the best of them (even if it is a few minutes to the rear).  But Mike gave me some perspective in his victory.  A volunteer made a comment to Mike as he stood waiting for me to cross the finish line.  The guy was excited that Mike won cause, as he put it, "it's nice to see a bigger guy with speed winning these things."  Mike does not have a "typical" runners body.  Although he is leaning out Mike still carries alot of muscle which adds more weight to his body and should, theoretically, slow him down.  Yet it doesn't - the muscle actually gives him endurance and power to kick through a race, making him a serious competitor in sprint races (and I am also a little bias cause I kind of like him).  When I see Mike running with other skinny medal winning runners I think to myself, "self I can run a little bit faster."  So next race I am going to try to do just that and not place myself in this box that says tall, stocky, knock-kneed people can't be good runners.  I'll let you know if it works:)

1 comment:

AMANDA said...

Great Job Mike & Nicole! It is really nice to hear about the ups and downs of running because that helps keep me going too. I just think WWND... What would Nicole do! Haha. Also, there was a boy, well probably 26 or so, in a kilt at the dirty show.... Damn fine and extra dirty!!!!