What to do this weekend? I have a marathon next week and I usually run 12 miles or so a little faster than that pace one week out. So I was going to do that, but I miss the Roman Meal Glove Run 5K which has gone the way of the passenger pigeon and next week I really should not run my favorite 5K, the Ghostmuster, because it is the day before a marathon that I would like to do well at. So no Fall 5K for me. Until I looked at the race calendar and saw a new one in Tacoma. Free to Breathe Lung Cancer 5K on Saturday morning. My last 4 races have been marathons and I have done zero speed work since July because of my foot. But the foot has been doing better and I was considering some speed sessions soon. My finish time will be slower than it has been for a while, but I feel like running with a herd today, and I might as well go for quantity of races, rather than quality.
I invite my very good friend, the sloth, to join me and to my happy surprise she decides to do it. She was a fast runner in her early youth but has not been quite so athletic lately. She is going to walk the course and that is way better than all the other folks who are sleeping in this morning. Jody is also going to run and we leave the house in plenty of time.
Since this is a first time event I am concerned about logistics and we are not preregistered. As long as the course is accurately measured, marked and timed I won't fret the other potential snafus. As we walk to the registration are I see the mile 3 marker, the same mile marker from the Tacoma Marathon. Then I see Tony and I know that all of my concerns are for naught. Of course Bob and Marci are next to us at the sign in table. Lots of the regular Tacoma gang and many walkers. I do a two mile warm up and finish with some strides that feel very good.
Start - It is a skinny start line and we will be running on the sidewalk, but everyone lines up well with walkers in the back. It is a beautiful Fall day with no wind. The course is out and back along Ruston Way. Completely flat with great views of the water. Last night I had this plan to make this a specific work out (7:30 mile 1, 7:15 mile 2, 7:00 mile 3). I should be around a 7:15 pace and that plan would have me finish strong. Race start is announced and I try to remember that plan. No idea what I wanted to do. O well, just run fast. I am relaxed.
Mile 0.2 - Passing a little guy. I always want to tell them to not go out so fast, it is a long race for them. They need to learn how to pace. I look at my watch: 6:46 average pace. I snort and realize I need to heed my own advice.
Mile 0.5 - Dodge a kid on a tricycle.
Mile 0.6 - Pet a giant dog on the head. Pedestrians making full use of the sidewalk as we run by. Man jogging toward us. I want to tell him he is going the wrong way.
Mile 0.75 - Seal in the water
Mile 1.0 - GPS reads 1.00 7:09 pace
Mile 1.3 - With out and back we get to see everybody. I am not as friendly as I would be at a marathon since I am near sprint speed. I do pick up the pace for a stretch just to lose the guy with slapping feet who is on my tail.
Mile 1.7 - Running into the sun. Now my sunglasses not only make me look cool, they are serving a purpose. There is Jody looking strong and not far behind. She is hoping to break 27 minutes.
Mile 2 - Perfectly executed hand slap with the sloth. Looks like she is having a good time with her Dad.
Mile 2.2 - My air supply is low and I am almost gasping. I think that I sped up more than I should have, trying to look fast for the sloth. Settle down a bit but still moving well. The legs are fine, I am just out of breath. Funny on the "free to breathe" race.
Mile 2.9 - Strollered!! I am actually speeding up for the finish and this guy passes me with a double stroller. Only person to pass me since mile 0.5
Mile 3.1 - I see the clock cross over to 22 minutes and soon I am over the line. 7:09 pace and I knew I would be in this range, but it is a little disappointing to verify that I have lost some speed. All of my 5Ks for the last year have been under 7:00 pace. Man behind me says that I have great pacing and that he tried to get me but just could not keep up at the end. By the time I recover and walk back to the finish, the clock is at about 26 minutes. I remember that Jody wants to beat 27 although she has not done that in two years. I tell Bob that and the next thing we see is Jody coming home in 26:36. Good for her. We celebrate, then I run back down the course to cool down and find the sloth. She is about 0.75 miles from the finish, so we walk it in together. My right plantar is acting up a little but I think it will be OK. Maybe I will just stick to slow marathons, but these little short races are fun and do not take all day or weekend. One nice thing about walking in is that there is no wait for the awards ceremony. Too bad they only go one deep in ten year increments, so most of us get nothing. Nothing except a beautiful morning exercise with a friendly herd, raising money for a worthy cause. I would do this one again.
21st of 155 runners and walkers