Monday, July 28, 2014

Spandits 5K and kids 1-miler

Great race swag at the Spandits! 5K. I would have included a photo of the homemade cake too, but we ate it.
For years, I've heard people say that they don't really consider themselves "runners" because they have only completed a 5K race but they are hoping to work up to a longer distance someday. Hearing this always makes me cringe. As a former high school and collegiate cross country runner, to me the 5K conjures up images of true suffering. Raw, brutal suffering. The 5K was the distance that taught me what it means to bonk; a distance where there is no mercy for the runner who succumbs to a moment of weakness or self doubt. In a 5K the pain is almost instantaneous and continues mercilessly until the final heartbeat at the finish. I have never said the words "only a 5K" and am pretty sure I never will. In fact, for years- decades- I have thought "5K" would be a phrase I would simply never utter again, never mind actually participate in.
Spandits! 5K start. Photo Maine Running Photos.

Until about a week ago that is... when I decided to sign up for one. No mud, no obstacles, no compass- no distractions. Just running. In fact, this 5K would be 100% a road race, not even a dirt trail to distract me from my suffering. Having just entered the 40+ age group, it just seemed silly to hold on to fears that were nearly 20 years old. Bonus: this race was put on by Spandits! to benefit the Mt. Blue HS cross-country team complete with a kids 1-miler to start. I knew if nothing else, I would be in the company of cool people and REALLY cool tights. Possible distraction?
At the start with a great group of Spandits! ladies rockin' our kits. (me, Jen, Carrie and Sarah). Photo Jennifer Boudreau.

In quick order, I signed myself up for the 5K, both kids for the 1-miler, and Dave for the 5K. Dave doesn't run. Ever. I think he has run twice in the last year, and I know he didn't see this coming, but he is such a good sport I also knew he wouldn't refuse. My 8-year-old daughter was able to convince me that I should enter a deal with her where I would give her $20 if she could break a 9-minute mile. Having entered a similar arrangement with Noah back in June ($1 for every time he actually swung at the ball in Little League), I wasn't in a position to refuse.

The kids's race was really fun- and really fast. I had thought I was going to have a chance to warm up and jog out a little to cheer the kids on but the kids were moving at a ridiculous pace and afforded me no time to warm up- or grab my camera. I believe the boy who won ran a 5:56 (and the course was not flat). He was 8. I was so distracted by the sheer speed of the little guy in the front of the pack I almost didn't notice my own kid fly by to a 4th place overall finish (6:28). Moments later, I lost my twenty dollars as the ponytail of my 8-year-old blew by to a 7-minute flat 1-mile race. Next time, momma is going to be a little more prepared for the kids race.
Noah and Charlie modeling their 4th and 10th place overall in the kids 1-mile. Photo Sarah Doscinski.

At the finish, the kids were met with cold popsicles and great swag and prizes. Eyeing the popsicles for ourselves, Dave and I made our way to the start corral instead with me terrified of the impending sufferfest and Dave oblivious. I know I was confused when the gun went off. Do I sprint? No, that's not a good idea. If I go out too slow and stay comfortable, the race will be over and I'll never be able to catch up. What to do? Seeing Dave run off ahead of me, I decided the only option was to give chase. I snuck by him in the pack weaving between a couple of buff fellas pushing strollers. He cut me off at the first corner. I drafted off his shoulder and breathed down his neck for a while. Once he pulled away about 20 meters ahead of me, I held the distance for the next two miles or so. At one point, a man I was running alongside said to me "the third and fourth ladies are just in front of you... you can get them." Without hesitating, I replied "oh, I don't care about them, I am going for the guy in the red shirt."
Dave beating me in his 3rd run of 2014. At least he looks like he is suffering a little. Photo Maine Running Photos.

5K feels fast. It is fast. There are no breaks- no moments to get in a zone and recollect yourself. There is no forgiveness for weakness. This is why the 5K is so hard for me. While I know how to put myself into some pretty good discomfort for long periods of time, I have forgotten how to truly redline my effort. In the third and fourth day of an endurance event, I know I can dig deep to find a zone where my body just does what it needs to. In a 5K, I am way too keenly aware of my own suffering and I revert to comfortable. Somewhere between miles 2 and 3, I lost focus just long enough to let the bouncy, fawn-like bearded runner in the red shirt slip to a 20 second lead. My own husband, the self-admitted non-runner, would take me in my first 5K in two decades.
I might look like I am suffering but at least my outfit doesn't! Photo Maine Running Photos.

In the end, returning to the 5K distance was invigorating and great fun. I ran faster than I imagined I would although nearly 4 minutes off of my PR from 20 years ago. I was beaten by two men pushing strollers. I almost feel inclined to spend some time conditioning my body to work out of conversational running pace and re-learn how to redline as better endurance conditioning. Seems like a logical progression.

Plus, I now need to beat my husband in a 5K.

Did I mention that age-group winners got homemade goodies for prizes? How brilliant!
Ironically, the 40+ age group was arguably the most competitive. Go-figure.
(5th female overall and 2nd in 40-49- I'll take that!). Photo Credit Maine Running Photos.

Thanks to Sarah and Kelley at Spandits! for an awesome event and for great ambassadors to hang out with. If you like colorful, fun tights, shorts and skirts check out and tell them Shelley sent you. I highly recommend their great quality products made in Maine owned by two great women who are also runners. For any of my Sugarloaf friends, Spandits! 5K is a race to put on your calendars for 2015.

Also, a huge thanks to Hammer Nutrition for keeping me fueled, Maine Running for allowing me to share their photos, and to Reload Fitness and team Mud and Adventure for great support teams!