This post could easily be titled ‘Weekend away: how I fell down and still managed to PR my 5K!’. But I’ll get to that later.
This week wasn’t the best… I had a paper deadline that I was stressing about and I was also a bit of an emotional basket case. I was really looking forward to some fun this weekend. I had been planning a trip to Santa Rosa to visit a friend and was super excited about it. We’ve known each other since we were four years old and have shared a lot of memories of tie-dyed t-shirts, camping trips, and watching Empire Record over and over again. Even though we live less than 2hrs away, we don’t get together often. Catching up was definitely in order, as was seeing her newish home.
I got off work Friday and decided to kick off the weekend with an 8 mile run and then a girls night (with another friend). Except the 8 mile run turned into 9.4 (good company though!). And I was way late for my dinner date. And I was generally cranky/starving. We decided to drive to Winters for dinner (about 17 miles away). As luck (much sarcasm here) would have it, the downtown was hosting an Earthquake festival (foreshadowing for Sunday) and the restaurant we wanted to go to, Preserve, was totally booked. I could not wait 30 minutes for a table, so we headed next door to Mexican food.
If you know me, then it will come as no surprise that I am a) not very fond of Mexican food and b) lactose intolerant (though I continue to consume milk products…shame on me). I ordered a quesadilla (apparently my brain was not functioning properly). Dinner was massive.
And I ate the whole thing. Even though it was rather disgusting. See.We wandered around the festival for a bit and then I went to work after. Lab at 10PM on a Friday night is totally normal… By the time I got home I was seriously sick to my stomach and spent the next 12 hours on the couch in fetal position. All in all a rather terrible start to the weekend.
Around 10am on Saturday I had to decide whether to get up or cancel weekend plans. I decided to go to Santa Rosa. Worst case, I drive there, feel sick, hang out for a bit, and then head home. Somewhere along the drive (while stuck in traffic), I decided that I was feeling better and should definitely sign up to race a 5K. Because weekends away are so much more fun when there is a race involved. So I went to the Santa Rosa Marathon Expo and purchased a bib. Unfortunately I was too late to get a cute t-shirt with Peanuts cartoons on it. Sad.
The rest of Saturday was spent hanging out with my friend. We toured her urban homestead (pictures on her blog here), played with her dog and kitties, and then she took me out for a belated birthday dinner. I had a small salad because after the last 24 hours, all I could think about were fruits and vegetables. It was delicious and just what I needed.
After dinner, we went out for ice cream at Sub Zero. Yes! The ice cream was made to order and frozen with liquid nitrogen. They even had vegan options for me (excellent). Even though liquid nitrogen has lost its novelty (working in a lab will do that to you), it was still fun to watch them.
After the ice cream, we chatted for a while and then went to bed early because we were both very tired. We were abruptly woken up at 3:30am by an earthquake accompanied by some eery light flashes (probably transformers blowing). It was a short earthquake, but we were both very upset and physically shaken. We lived through a major quake (Loma Prieta Earthquake) when we were four years old and the memory hasn’t quite faded… Adrenaline + chatting + playing on internet + fear of aftershocks = not much sleep. Did I mention that it makes me so angry when people say earthquakes are fun? Watching your neighbors house fall down is not entertaining…
Race day came too soon. It was nice and foggy and cool. Perfect race weather. I said my goodbyes and was picked up by my aunt who dropped me off near the course start.
View of the half marathon course from the 5K route.
I didn’t have high hopes for a great race given that I was recently sick and running on little sleep. I did, however, want a PR because a) running fast is fun and b) I had a bet with someone in my running club about race times. My goal was to keep my pace between 6:50 and 7:10/mile, but I decided to see how I felt once I got out there. Since no one knew I was running the race, if I did poorly, I could easily not tell anyone… Because I was an hour early, I had a lot of time to warm-up and use the bathrooms (lots of port-a-potties, thanks Santa Rosa and Change of Pace!). I met up with my aunt and we chatted while I waited. All in all, it was probably the most relaxing pre-race I have ever experienced.
I lined up on the start line and tried to get as close to the front as possible, but there was a large group of junior high (?) students blocking my path. I worried that they would burn out quickly. And I was right. The buzzer went off and we started running. And I promptly tripped and ate it on the pavement. I am a bit fuzzy on the details, but I think someone slowed way down in front of me. I tried to avoid them by side stepping. Except that I fell down on my side. Fun… I lay on the ground for a few seconds watching runners go by. No one stopped, though I did get some interesting commentary. I got up and assessed the damage.
Here is my Garmin’s take on the accident. I contemplated a DNF. Since my legs were fine, I started to run again. My scrapes burned a lot, but I just kept breathing and running. I tried not to look at my watch for a bit and get back into the rhythm of things. When I finally checked my watch it read 2.22. I thought for a second that I had only been running for a little over two minutes. And then I realized I set the screen to give me a distance countdown and pace. Lap time was not included. I had almost gone a mile. Excellent!
The rest of the race flew by. The weather was cool, the course was flat, and the volunteers were very enthusiastic. I did not love the section through downtown with cobblestones, but the rest of the course was nice. I was breathing well and my legs felt pretty strong, though I was definitely hurting toward the end. I managed to finish in 21:38, which is a PR by a long shot.
I don’t like to be too self-congratulatory, but I am very pleased with my performance. I’ve shaved two minutes off my 5K in the last year. Perhaps having no expectation + nice, cool temps + accident adrenaline helped me overcome my mental limitations? Whatever it was, it was definitely a very good race day (and weekend!). Having supportive friends and family who believe in me more than I do myself also helped a lot.
I highly recommend this race as it seemed like a fast course and was very well organized.