Thoughts on Speed

1 12 2013

This fall has been peppered with several small, local races that I’ve neglected to post about here. It’s been exciting to participate in these smaller events and to see my husband finish each race strongly and win in his age category over and over! He recently ran the Fall Foliage Festival 10k in our hometown and the Virginia Running Festival Half Marathon near my old hometown (baby duty for me each time!), and finished 1st and 2nd in each of the respective races among his age group. He needs to start entering races with cash prizes!

On Thanksgiving, we both ran a Turkey Trot 5k. The course circled his parents’ neighborhood. It was the first official 5k I’ve run since July, since my training lately has been weighted down by high mileage runs (I completed a 23-mile run just two days after this 5k!). So I ventured out a bit and set a personal speed goal for myself. I knew I wouldn’t place in my age group, but why not see what I could do?

I used RunKeeper to set a pace goal, which updated me every half mile. With each update, I was well-ahead of my target pace! I knew, though, that the last half mile was all uphill, so I would have to keep ahead of pace as much as I could in the beginning. That meant bypassing a frigid-looking water station at the halfway point (I would have gotten some if I needed it), as well as a mimosa station set up in someone’s yard – they do it every year to support the runners and kickoff their Thanksgiving festivities. The last time I did this race, I did not partake because I was pregnant, and this time I did not want to waste any precious seconds! I didn’t even take any pictures!

That last half mile or so of straight uphill was rough. I’m guessing my speed was directly correlated to the elevation changes:

Speed

In the last half mile, the seconds felt like sand slipping through my fingers as I approached my target finishing time. I sprinted. I knew I had about 7 seconds to get through the finishers’ chute lined with cones.

Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 1.05.35 PM

And then.

And then I learned that something went haywire with the chip timing mechanism, and everyone’s result would be posted as the gun time only. (The gun time is really only accurate for people who were toe’ing the start line – the clock starts when those runners start. Chip timing is more accurate because my individual timer begins only once I actually cross the start line. Because I began somewhere in the middle of the pack, it took me a minute or so to get up TO the start line once the race officially started, in a different wave of runners.)

So I’m assuming I met my goal. I didn’t stop my RunKeeper app until my bib number was manually recorded, so that figure isn’t reliable, either.

11-28-13 Turkey Trot 2

All this aside, I don’t run competitively. Everyone gets into running for different reasons, and I have my own, which have nothing to do with speed or competition. And I know with all that my body has been through over the last 13 years, I can’t expect to make the kind of PRs I had in my 2 seasons of high school Cross Country before my back surgery necessitated a hiatus. And I certainly don’t expect to blow through Disney and miss the castle and characters and spectator posters and overall magical vibe that one can only find at a runDisney event. (Not that I could blow through any race if I tried!)

Turkey Trot

Bib order goes by height now?

But it was fun to set a new goal, and test it out on a smaller scale. And it was equally exciting for our group to bring home 3 prestigious and highly coveted race awards on Thanksgiving morning:

1) My hubby placed 2nd in his age group and won a half sheet of paper that read “Winner.”

2) My brother-in-law won a prize for the shortest commute to get to the race (about 0.1 miles from his driveway to the finish line). He won a gift card to a bike shop. Completely logical.

3) The event coordinators picked a random finisher place, looked up who crossed in that place… and it was my husband again! Bike shop gift card.

Maybe they could go in together on a helmet.

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