Sunday, June 8, 2008

2 Months, 2 Minutes

My son David & I completed another 5K yesterday, the Susan Komen Race for the Cure, which raised over $3,000,000 to fight breast cancer. The temperature was about 72 degrees and humidity was about 80 percent at 6:30 AM, but the temperature climbed fast and the humidity went down a bit by the time the race was over.

The race was to start at 8:00 AM, and David and I got to the starting area at 7:20. There were so many thousands of people scheduled to run, I figured it'd be crowded at the starting line by 6:00, and I didn't want to wait there that long even if it meant having to spend as much time running side-to-side to avoid other runners as I spent running forward, so 7:20 is when I planned for us to get there. Much to my surprise, there was only one other person standing at the starting line, though there were at least a hundred on the shoulders of the road nearby.

We took places front-and-center, and I laid down to rest and wait. Normally, I don't recommend that anyone lay down in the middle of the street on Constitution Avenue. Immediately after the starting barriers were removed, about two minutes before the race started, a couple of dozen people pushed their way to the front. You could tell these were the serious runners who wanted to win or place, so I didn't mind giving way to them.

As the race began, I ran my pace, and instead of having to pass other people, other people were passing me. A lot of these folks were those who don't know their pace, so they go real fast to start, then have to walk. I wasn't able to run the whole way, but I ran my pace as long as I could, and I made the first mile in 8 minutes flat, and the second in 8 minutes and 4 seconds. It wasn't long after that, though, that I had to walk a bit, and alternated between walking and running until the last quarter mile or so, when I was actually able to put in a little kick to the finish line. It was so warm, around 2.5 miles, I had started if I would have to walk the rest of the way, but I was able to mush through it.

This race didn't use the sensors attached to shoes, so they had lanes at the finish line. You enter a lane and someone manually writes down your time, in order. Someone else tears off your bar-coded ID from your race bib and puts in on a spindle, in order, so that if it works right, they get a fairly accurate time. Unfortunately, by the time David came through, there were so many people jammed up at the finish line, he had to wait to get counted. That was the case for most of the runners, and there were tens of thousands, so I was told. David still finished in under 40 minutes, though.

I haven't found an estimate by the organizers as to when official times and places will be posted. By my stopwatch, I finished in 26 minutes and 29 seconds, so I shaved a little over 2 minutes off my time from my race in April. This time, I didn't push myself quite as hard, and wasn't completely exhausted afterward. My average speed was 7.02 miles per hour, and my pace was 8 minutes and 33 seconds per mile. Not bad considering this time last year my muscles hurt so badly without knowing the cause that I wasn't sure if I'd be alive this year. My next goal is to be able to run an 8 minute pace without stopping for a full 5 kilometers. Once I can do that again, I haven't decided if my next goal will be speeding up or increasing distance. Isn't that a wonderful dilema?!

After the finish line, I turned right and walked over to the path around the
Smithsonian Museum of Native Americans and scooped up some water to splash on myself while I waited to meet up with David there. Almost everyone else turned left to go onto the National Mall, where the organizers had lots of tents set up. Despite the enormous crowd, only a dozen or so people came over to the museum, so it was a great choice for a meet-up. That museum is such a peaceful place.

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