Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Run for Autism 5K

I had not run a race or done any workouts in the months of January-March. I ran a total 144 miles for the year, with my longest run being 8 miles. The week of the Run for Autism 5K (April 7-13), I was diagnosed with a sinus infection (as usual) and told I had pink eye (again?) I got the pink eye from Henry. I only ran 3 days that week prior to the race. I'd heard about the race on the radio and thought that since it started at the high school next to my house, maybe I could run it. I was getting bored with my short, pain-free runs. I wanted something to hurt. I missed that sensation. I told a couple people I was thinking about doing it, just for something to do. But I didn't to tell Mark, because I didn't want him to tell me I needed a race plan. There is no race plan when you have no fitness, you just go run and try not to do anything stupid. So the day before the race, I went and signed up.

Saturday, April 12, I got down to the high school to warm up and was running for about 20 seconds before someone yelled my name. Since I had pink eye, I couldn't wear my contacts, so I had no idea who it was. I told them that, and ran over to see that it was Josh Haney. He was there to run the race, and immediately told me that since I was running, he was now racing for 3rd place. I said to him that if there is ever a day for him to beat me, today will be that day, and asked about the other person he was planning to lose to. It was Daniel Cutright.

I did a short warm up with Josh and nervously headed to the line. Daniel was there, Josh was there, Brian Kayser was there, and some other people who I do not know. There was a speech about the importance of the race (a norm here in Charlottesville), and the gun went off. A small child went to the lead as we ran 300 meters on the track and I went out too fast. I stayed behind the child and Daniel was we started to go up a hill into McIntire Park. I was trying to be smart but I had not run anything much faster than 7:30 pace all year long, so my body was unaware of what was happening. We went through the all-important 1/2 mile split at something close to 2:30, if I recall. The child fell off quickly, and Daniel was just left with me, breathing heavily behind him.

Now, I consider myself to be a rather smart racer. I take tangents on the road, go out slowly, measure myself and my opponents, and try to read the situations to make good decisions. I was behind Daniel, and he would have had to to have been deaf or an idiot to not know that I was in over my head at this point. So that makes me the idiot, because I was unaware until we reached the mile at 5:19 and I started to feel him pulling away effortlessly.

The remainder of the race was painful. It was a hilly course, and I slowed tremendously on the 2nd mile, watching Daniel disappear in the distance as we rounded each turn. I got to two miles in 5:49 and thought even less of myself for running so stupid. I started to pass the oncoming runners and tried to summon some pride and not look like total garbage as I continued the death march. Luckily the race finishes downhill, so I was able to pick up a little speed as I went to the finish. There was no 3 mile mark (but we had the half mile!)  I saw the clock ticking towards (and past) 17 minutes, and stopped the clock at 17:10. So 6:01 for the last 1.1, better than my second mile for sure.

Before I started the race, I had no way of knowing what a reasonable expectation would be, so I made none. I probably said I "just wanted to break" 20 minutes, 19 minutes, and 18 minutes. I had no clue. That being said, I was still slightly disappointed that I came that close to 17 minutes but was unable to break it. This disappointment is absurd; I'd barely been running, it was the first time I'd done anything more than an easy effort in 4 months, and I ran like a fool-- out way too hard and dying coming home.

Who is this kid?
KC told me afterwards that I looked terrible, and that Daniel looked "a lot younger" than I am. Those two things were certainly true. Henry got to watch me run, albeit slowly. Before KC and Henry left, Mark took a picture of us, and Henry did not try to hide his dissatisfaction with my performance. Mark was pleased that we were wearing Ragged Mountain clothes though. I cooled down with Josh and came back to the awards ceremony and ate a bunch of Panera bagels. Daniel had to leave to go help his dad at a track meet, but Josh and I went up for our 2nd and 3rd place awards. I got my second Ragged Mountain hooded sweatshirt, some Mizuno socks, and a Mizuno backpack that I use almost daily to carry my running clothes around with me when I'm going in the afternoon. Satisfactory award. I should have stuck around for the rest of the morning in hopes of winning the Beats By Dre headphones, but not being able to see was taking it's toll on me and I was getting a headache.

Aside from how poorly I did, the race was an absolute blast. I love running races, I love running hard,  and the pain was invigorating. Racing on antibiotics isn't a good idea, but whatever. And it was a road race, I didn't really need to be able to see anything. It really motivated me to get back into running consistently and working hard to get in shape for the summer and fall racing seasons.*

*Almost two months later and that is finally starting to happen.

Run for Autism 5K Results
A video on Facebook of the start of the race -- pretty impressive crowd

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Race Photos