This year's Mat Dawg 5k race was a fundraiser for a school wrestling team to replace mats, since some athletes were injured (spiral fracture) last year. I knew this was the first year for the event, but decided to try it because it was only about a half hour from me, a good cause, and it had a certified course.
|Random SUV pulled in just in time for my shot. Keeping warm here in beautiful southern Oregon.|
I had no problem picking up my race packet about an hour before the start, and paid 35$ for race day entry. I could have paid less if I had registered early, but I don't do that anymore (don't want to feel compelled to race if my body doesn't cooperate).
|Looking pretty darn perfect for an out and back!|
Finally, I headed out to warm up and looked down the course. It looked spectacularly flat!
Two easy miles and a few drills later, I joined the masses at the winery. A few words were spoken by the race director and we were ushered to the start. It was an out and back route.
When the gun went off, only one person went ahead of me- and he stayed there the whole time.
I felt like could have ran the first mile easily in 5:30- and that was the pace my watch read for quite a while until I decided to slow down and save a bit back. The first mile (didn't see a marker) was done in 6:05 ish, and I thought..."OK, not bad. Don't slow down".
Then we turned and I saw it.
The course went up. And it turned again...
it went up even more.
This was the hill I saw on the USTAF map. All the elevation gain was in the second mile. "This should end after about a half mile, " I thought....but it sure seemed to take forever.
By now it was getting dark and harder to read my watch. I was running about 6:30 pace for that section. When I hit the turn-around near the top of a hill, I knew I had to minimize the damage, so I focused on turnover, and knew that I could increase speed downhill without dying for air.
It wasn't far downhill when I hit the end of mile 2. Not pretty, but I knew I could still end up with a PR. Just keep busting it. Make it BURN.
I tried to see the men's leader, but he was getting harder to see in the dark. At times I spotted him, and he looked like he was standing still. The dark was playing tricks on my eyes.
When my watch beeped for mile 3, the end of the course was nowhere to be seen, and I couldn't hear anyone. And then it sank in.
It might be a long 5k.
When you train in intervals and use your watch to measure tenths of a mile, you develop a "feel" for how long a tenth of a mile takes... two tenths..a quarter mile.
I knew when I had ran over 3.2 and I kind of GAVE UP. I almost turned off my watch and stopped. I had stopped competing with myself. But just for a second. Then I realized that this might be a bad 5k time (for me), but I wanted the best bad 5k I could get. So I returned to the insanity and plugged on trying to make my feet like eggbeaters.
When I crossed the line in 21:15, someone came up and asked if that was a "good time" for me.
It was still hard to breathe, but I laughed. I said "NO". I mean, "Yes". And I laughed some more.
It all depends on how you measure things.
I finished visiting with Nic, (first male) and his parents and went to the side of the road in the dark and got on my knees. I thanked the Lord for the win and was joyful in my heart at his sense of humor. (I don't always feel this way!!!). A win is a win after all. Blessed. I have been truly blessed to have finished well in some small races, more blessed to keep seeing pace improvement without injury.
I ran a couple of cool-down miles and felt my left foot a bit beat-up...(perhaps from the lack of cushioning in my shoes or my horrific foot strike.)
At the tent, there were all sorts of good eats: oranges, bananas, sub sandwiches, and chips! Organizers held a raffle and gave away Road ID bracelets and Dutch Brothers coffee cards. I left full and happy :)
A few adjustments to be made to ensure that the course follows the map, and this will be a fantastic race next year. :) I hope to see it successfully repeated for years to come, to the benefit of Freemont Middle School.