Friday, February 11, 2011

Race day

The Valentine's Day Dash 5K is tomorrow morning at Green Lake! I always get excited for races, but this is the first one that I've actually followed* a training plan for.

*The term "followed" has been used loosely. I "followed" an eight-week plan by jumping straight into week five, shifting runs around, adding some yoga and randomly replacing a 7-mile run with an 8-mile run. Click to view the weirdness:

My 5K PR is 28:51 (set at the Green Lake Gobble 5K in November) and one of my goals for 2011 is to break 27:00. Should I make sub-27:00 my goal for this race? Why the hell not?

I'm getting kind of nervous since I really want to do well, and there are supposed to be more than 3,000 people running this race! I think my nervousness will disappear once I get to the starting corral.

There are so many great moments in a race day, including — but not limited to — finishing the race itself. Here are my favorites:

Lining up at the start
It might seem weird to be crammed into a small area with hundreds or thousands of strangers like cattle in a pen, but it's actually pretty fun! The energy is great at the start, and it's fun to watch people warm up, ready their iPod playlists and show off their costumes. (There's always a guy in a thong. Hide ya kids, hide ya wife... just stay away from him.)

Running the first mile
On regular runs, the first mile always sucks. My legs aren't warmed up yet and it just feels kind of blah. But during races, I feel great during the first mile because of all the excitement in the air. The downside of the first mile is that it's the most crowded, and it can be frustrating to weave through slower runners and dodge people who run with their dogs. I don't mind people who run with their dogs on a tight leash, but I've found myself unable to pass a girl, her dog and three feet of the dog's leash. (Note to that girl: There's a great race for dogs up in Alaska. It's called the Iditarod.)

Running the last 0.1 mile
Please let it be over. Please let it be over. This is what I'm thinking when I give it my all in a race. Even though I can see the finish line, the short distance I have ahead of me will really suck, and I fully envision my swift death on a dirty curb. But dammit, that curb will be on the other side of the finish line.

Crossing the finish line
Obviously, this is great because I can now stop running. Also, I usually realize that I am not, in fact, going to die on a curb. I can let my heart rate go back to normal, drink some water and then...

Pillaging the vendors
...steal politely take as much of every free food/drink sample as I possibly can. Boom — I now have breakfast and snacks for the entire next week. Hey, I didn't die — I earned it!

Satiating The Hunger
Once my adrenaline dies down a bit, I begin to feel The Hunger. I usually crave something warm and terrible for me. Papa John's pizza is a favorite, but a grilled cheese sandwich, macaroni and cheese, or anything else involving hot cheese would also be splendid. Aaron and I craved fish and chips after the Resolution Run 5K. Here he is at Paddy Coyne's, waiting for his food. Look into his eyes — do you see The Hunger?


Giving in to The Tireds
Once The Hunger has been quieted with delicious, greasy food, The Tireds set in. A 3.1-mile race isn't very long, but the effort is still enough to make me feel completely wiped out. I like to do the whole, "I'm just going to close my eyes for a minute..." thing, then nap for four hours and wake up not knowing if it's morning or night. The naps I've taken after races have repeatedly ranked up there with the best naps of my life (infant years excluded). I can't even imagine what I'll feel like after running a 15K, a half-marathon and a marathon. I will sleep for years.

That's it! And it's all going down tomorrow! If you're one of the 3,000 romantic souls running the Valentine's Day Dash, good luck to you... and save me a spot on the curb.

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