Cluster - Birch Bay 5k Race Report

Last weekend I jumped into a local 5k, had a complete cluster of a start and race but came out of it with a slow a** time (for me... blah blah) and the win. I'd call that a success... or something.

Preface: Last week was TOUGH! Coming off a week of work travel, followed by a fantastic weekend visiting with family and my friend Steffanie in Portland, I was super fatigued and borderline sick. To put it mildly, I felt run down. And by 'run down' I mean I left work mid-day Tuesday because I didn't feel well and then proceeded to pass out on my couch for 2.5 hours. Yeah, not okay. Needless to say - I didn't really run all week.

Side note: Admittedly, this cycle of extreme fatigue has been par for the course around these parts for the better part of a year. Awesome. Yes, I think something is up with my body and I'm trying to figure it out but as of right now I don't have any answers... so maybe it's just all in my head.

Longer preface: Since coming back from Hawaii my running has been... ... lackluster. It comes in fits and spurts. I honestly don't know where to begin with this. I've switched up my training plan, keeping it a bit shorter in total mileage and slightly more 5k specific. My head has been in it - excited to train, excited to run fast. But then came the crappy workouts. One after another. I swear, the more I've tried to run fast, the slower I've run. So in the last couple of weeks I've thrown in the towel. Let's just all jog it out... 

But then I noticed the Birch Bay Road Race nicely documented on my calendar and well, my exact thought was 'F*** it! Let's just go run it and not care'. I have the greatest attitude folks. So Friday afternoon that is exactly what I decided I was going to do - wake up and run.

Let the cluster commence: I woke up early and drove up to Birch Bay, blasting Puke and Rally jams, and getting into 'race mode'. After getting registered I swung through the porta pottie line. Now, if you've been reading this little blog for awhile you know that I don't typically have pre-race issues. But that morning... let's just say that maybe my dinner the night before didn't sit well. Upside - the bathroom line was quick and it was out of my system.

I ran back to my car, pinned my bib on my singlet, changed into my racing flats and then proceeded to warm up. Except the McGurggles were still in my stomach. When picking up the pace to get in a few strides they were there lurking like some evil demon telling me - 'Ha, you thought your legs were going to be the ones throwing a tantrum during this race... Guess again! Instead you might just crap your very short shorts if you even think about going hard.' (TMI... apologies) So that was troublesome. 

To add to the 'situation' in my stomach my Achilles was killing me. Self diagnosed bursitis typically b****es and moans in the first mile but eventually dissipates as I run. That said, the racing flats were aggravating it MORE than I was comfortable with. So last minute decision to change back into shoes with more cushion. Back to the car I go with the announcer stating 5 minutes until the start of the race.

As I swapped out shoes and shed my layers I decided I needed to do one final swing through the porta pottie just in case. BUT by that time I was only 2 minutes out from the race start. I hurried over and got in line, bouncing up and down to try and stay warm and fake like I was getting in more of a warm up than my paltry 10 minutes of shuffling. 

After what seemed like forever, and I hadn't moved forward in line at all, I ditched that idea and found a bush. THANKFULLY the McGurggles had subsided so it was a quick trip without issue (again, TMI). But in that one minute I realized I hadn't put my timing chip on my shoe. CRAP! (hindsight - like it really mattered!). Luckily the race was slightly delayed as people were still in the porta pottie line and I sprinted to my car, hands shaking got my timing chip securely fastened to my shoe, and sprinted back to the start to slip under the flags with about 30 seconds to spare. Count that as a few strides!

The race starts on a downhill, and a fairly substantial one at that. I was out front but behind a group of runners all from the same Vancouver run club. Even though it was downhill I could already tell that this race was going to be hard. I just didn't have it. So I settled in, decided to not look at my watch except at the mile markers, and just run. Which, was the plan all along, it just took actually starting to reaffirm this. (I mean who knows, maybe it could have been a miracle day!)

I've never run this race before so I had no idea where we were going. I had overheard that the 5k runners peel off (from the 15 and 30k runners - we all start together) at the 1k mark and that the finish was on an uphill. Other than that, no clue. But before I even really had a moment to think about it I saw volunteers up ahead indicating that was the 5k turn around point. Super! Where's the cone to actually 'turn' around? Hmm... Is it where the volunteers are standing? Is it where the white sign is (about 10 feet further down the road? Oh wait, there are arrows on the road, looks like it's right here. I turned just as another guy ahead of me turned 5 feet up the road. Did I cut the course? No idea. But... now I was in the lead. Like OVERALL lead! What the what?!

I've been working on form drills... one would hope it would show... more work is necessary OBVIOUSLY!

Yeah, I rode that wave for a few strides until the first dude caught up to me and ran slightly in front. Cool, I'll just tuck in behind him. Except he was kind of lopping along and it didn't feel like we were running that hard. Don't get me wrong, it still didn't feel easy or effortless, but it didn't feel HARD like 5ks typically do. So, I scooted up next to him and proceeded to pass him. Turns out he didn't like that so much and sped up. WHICH made me want to pass him even more. So I dropped him.

I got about a 15 foot lead on him and held it there. Just plugging away along the waterfront. My pace had slowed but I didn't care - I was in the lead. Just trying to keep the gap on him while also keeping my eye out for where we were supposed to go next.

Which brings me to the second turn around (that I didn't realize was a turn around). Remember how I knew the course ended on an uphill? Well, the second turn around was at a cross street that went uphill. Cool! We must be going that way (as I saw volunteers and a sign with an arrow pointing in said direction about 50 yards ahead). So, as the smart racer that I am I cut over to the right side of the road. You know, cut the tangents. Until I got yelled at by the volunteers that I needed to be on the left side of the road to 'turn around'. Well that doesn't make any sense (still missing the turn AROUND part). So, I ran back over to the left side of the road (first dude had caught back up at this point), then turned right and started towards the hill. Yelled at by the volunteers AGAIN - 'No, it's a turn around!' OH!!!!

Well f***! Now I'm about 15 feet behind the first dude and sort of losing steam. This race is just plain annoying at this point. HAVE A CONE!! Cones unanimously signal TURN AROUND. Do a 180 AROUND.this.cone. Anywho. The dude slows, because he too doesn't know where he's going and with all the turn around nonesense he doesn't seem to trust his directional ability either. We run stride for stride for a little bit until the third place guy has caught up (because we're going slow). First place guy doesn't want to be passed so he picks up the pace, as does now second place guy. And I get dropped. Womp womp.

And then out of nowhere (no signage, just a volunteer) we turned up THE hill back to the finish. And mind you, this hill is steep. I WANTED to walk. REALLY REALLY bad. But I didn't and just hopped up and down until I got to the top, moving at a snail's pace. At this point I was about 100 yards from the finish and figured I could muster enough energy to at least finish like I look fast. I crossed the line 20 seconds back from 1st and 2nd. My time (because y'all care about that stuff): 21:44 and the slowest time I've run in about 3 years. Yay!

The BEST part: I was first female. Which meant I got a plaque so I stuck around for the awards ceremony chatting with the other top finishers and relaxing in the sun. BUT THEN... the awards ceremony surprised us with prizes for the overall male and female winners. I walked away with a brand new Timex ONE GPS+ watch with HR strap which retails for $449!!! That went above and beyond making up for a slow race. Plus they now have free downloadable pictures. What better gift for a narcissist?!


I Need A Vacation

Kahakuloa Head
Timing is everything:
A month of migrating shoulder pain, derailed runs, ending in a lackluster race (on my birthday no less) was the perfect leap into 'get me the heck out of here and onto a beach' anyone could ask for. Bring on the relaxation! Bring on the sound of waves crashing on the shore! Bring on drinks in the sand, sun on my skin, and the adventures that await on an island untraveled!! I was so very ready for this break from every day life. Bathing suits (yes plural), books, sunglasses packed and an old pair of running shoes thrown in for good measure - ready to be worn in case I felt like running then to be left on the sandy beaches (figuratively of course) as some sort of symbolic 'moving on'.


Love Em Or Leave Em 5k Recap

Note: This post will most definitely come across as dramatic to many of you reading it. Admittedly the day of the race I WAS overly dramatic - frustrated, pissed off, sad. But that moment has passed and this is just a recounting of where I'm at. Honestly, it's really not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. Just so you have a bit of context. 
Well I've let two full weeks pass between me and my race. I've debated not even writing about it, mostly because I'm so sick of the 'well that didn't go as I had hoped' phrase. I'm sick of over-analyzing training/racing/running in general. And I'm also sick of rationalizing what wasn't good 'for me' versus what is a good race in everyone else's mind. FACT: it really doesn't matter what you think. Sorry if that's rude but it's the truth.