Wednesday, July 04, 2007

One Hot 5K

It was a glorious day for a 5K in central Arizona this fine 4th of July morning. Although today’s high temperature is predicted to approach 115F (46C), the over night lows had dipped all the way down to 84F (29C) and it was probably pretty close to 86 or 87 at the 6:30 AM gun time. But the sun was up, the skies were clear and 733 people had shown up to race in the far northern reaches of the Valley of the Sun.

My morning started out like any other. My wife and youngest daughter had visited friends on their house boat at Lake Pleasant last night and enjoyed an untraditional July 3rd fire works show on the lake. Because of the traffic, accidents and drunks, we didn’t get home until well past mid-night, so when my alarm went off at 4:30, I just laid in bed, staring at the ceiling and seriously contemplated bagging the race. But duty called. I knew of at least one friend that was expecting to be at the race and there was always the chance that one of my other blogging buddies from the Phoenix and its surrounding environs might make an appearance.

I got to the race around 5:45, checked in and started my customary warm up with a walk. Walking turned to a slow jog and I slowly sped up until most of my joints moving before taking my place in the starting chute; way back in the chute. Where had all these people come from? Only in Phoenix can you get 700+ people show up for a no-name 5K at 6:30AM on a very warm holiday morning.

The gun went off, the crowd surged forward and we were off. The course immediately opens up after passing the timing mats, so it was easy to weave through the crowds over the first 500m. Despite the dust, I was running relaxed and feeling good through the first mile which clocked in at 7:11. Not a PR pace, but my strategy had been to run an even tempo run and enjoy myself, so I was OK. Anyway, if I could stay between 7:00 and 7:10, I’d finish up some where around 22 and change, which is respectable. The feeling of euphoria soon passed and was replaced with the tell-tale signs of lactate build up. I was slowing down and getting passed by all shapes, sizes and ages.

The one water station was staffed with three young kids, who were unable to keep up with the large number of runners looking to cool off. I grabbed a cup, but screwed up the exchange and ended up with 2 or 3 ozs to dump on my head. I got thinking back to water stations that seem to go on for every at San Diego. This was a little different. Of well, no big deal, only 1.5 miles to go.

Near the two mile mark two high school girls passed me, huffing and puffing. The only reason I knew they were in High School was that they had their school’s mascot strategically located on the back side of their shorts. (Why do girls do this? Do they really think guys need any additional visual cue?) .I was sure I’d be able to catch them again on the last mile as I passed the 2 mile marker in 7:33. I was slowing down, but still doing OK. All I needed to do was pick up the pace on the last mile and could still pull together a decent time.

The high school kids kept pulling away and I swear a guy who had to be in his 70s passed me at one point. I dug deep for a little more speed, but couldn’t sustain much. The next time I looked up, the teenagers where no where in sight and it seemed that the entire field must be in front of me. There had to be someone out here that I could run down!. Several young kids pulled up and started walking in front of me, but that doesn’t really count. I never did find anyone to chase down and mile 3 went by in a rather disappointing 8:01.

As I crossed finish line, I heard someone from the side of the course call out my name. It was one of my friends from work. This fellow has never beaten me at any distance and was looking very relaxed standing there waiting for me to finish. I was really happy for him. Even though I didn’t do all that well, he would have had to run the race of his life to cross the finish line, get his timing chip removed and make his way back to the finish line in time to greet me. I was disappointed to find out that he hadn’t made it to the race by the starting gun and had just waited around for me to finish. Heck, had I known I had an audience waiting for me, perhaps I’d have run a smarter race.

Official time: 23:40. I won’t have the rest of the stats until tonight when the times are posted on the club's web-site. And even though this was my slowest 5K in over a year (I’ll need to get my old logs out to find a slower time), I’m glad I did it. Racing keeps me centered. Getting out there and pushing yourself with several hundred other people is what makes running fun. If it weren’t for the racing, we’d all just be jogging. Take care and best of luck to everyone else taking advantage of a rare mid-week holiday in the US.

18 comments:

J~Mom said...

Great race report! Even though it wasn't your PR it still was a great run!

That is such a good question about the girls with stuff on there back sides.

Great job today!

ReneeMc said...

Not too shabby. Sometimes you just need to run a race, even if it's not your best one.

Dusty said...

Good job on fighting on with old "Riggy" tapping you on the shoulder. Tough to keep going when rigamortus sets in, but looks like you kept plugging along, and on very little sleep.

Have a great 4th!

DawnB said...

Great race Phil, don't bother pulling out the logs!!hope you had a great day with your family!!

I won't say "I told you so" :)

stephruns said...

I just wrinkled my nose by the thought we would all just run "easy"...What matters is that you gave all your best.

Ewen said...

You've got to love 5ks - lots happening and over so quick.

Happy 4th of July by the way. Reminds me that this time last year we were in San Diego watching the fireworks :)

Laufenweg said...

considering the H-E-A-T, well done!! :-)

Thomas said...

86 or 87F and you're running a 5k! I just can't imagine it. Well done for turning up at the start at all, which most likely would have been more than I could have managed in those conditions.

Deene said...

sounds like a good run. I'm still jogging but i'm content with it.

Josh said...

What a great way to start the holiday! Good work on getting out there.

I take it your back was ok?

Sempre Libera said...

Ditto to what Thomas said! You put in a strong effort and came out with a solid showing; and you'll be able to catch that PR some other day for sure.

jen said...

Impressive pace in nearly 90 degree heat. I ran a 5k yesterday morning also, and I am not kidding- I was passed by a pair of 8 year old boys. 8. Incredible! Anyway, nice job and have a great weekend. :)

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

Nothing wrong with that race time in those conditions. I never get to do the ARR race on the 4th...I always seem to be out of town.

Sub said...

Man! I really need to think about you each time I whine about the "heat" here :)

Nice job on the race! Hopefully, you're going to bounce back from your injuries soon. Looks like you've got a lot of great advice in response to your previous post.

Medley - I stole that word from swimming. In the medley you switch between different strokes. So in a Medley between the 18/55 & 18/70 I would switch between different workouts from the 2 schedules.

Jamie said...

I can't get over my fascination with how you guys run in that heat. Way to go man, you have my respect.

Sorry it wasn't one of your fastest races, but I guess if they all were it'd get boring. Happy running.

Amy said...

Maybe you were out of sorts b/c it was the middle of the week...I still think you're fast, but I know your shoes don't care about my opinion.

I like that comment "if it weren't for racing, we'd all be joggers"...may just be the motivation I needed today!

Pat said...

I paid for the race, but was out of town. glad to hear there were a lot of folks there. Hopefully, we'll meet at the next race at Kiwanis.

pat

Bex said...

That's a great effort, Phil, especially in the heat and with the back issues. So kudos on the race!