Race Recap: PawSox 5K

So, it's totally normal to cry after a race, right? Right?

This morning was the 5K and I was up bright and early for it. Since I'm not a morning exerciser, and I can't run on a full [or completely empty] stomach, I woke up at 6:30 to have/digest breakfast and give my body plenty of time to wake up before the run. I also set out all my stuff the night before to make sure I had everything, so... that meant that I kind of spent a lot of time being bored and tired before it was an appropriate time to leave my house. 
gear: shoes, heart rate monitor, water bottle, aleve, headphones, shorts, t-shirts [I couldn't decide until the morning], race bib, hair ties, sunglasses
All dressed, I tweeted a picture before I headed out:
I look so tall and thin here! ...I think it's the crop of the picture.
It was only a couple miles to the stadium, a place I'm well familiar with [many summer nights were spent there as a kid!], so I left at 8:30 and still got there long before the stadium opened up at 9 for warming up. As I knew, it was a small race... I think about 600 people, after last minute registrants this morning. There was a tiny crowd when I got there, stretching and warming up already, but most people got there after the stadium opened.

Once inside the stadium, I took a look around the sponsor/vendor tables but decided to get free race swag after the race, since I had nowhere to stash it. Instead, I headed onto the field for an organized warm-up [jumping jacks, mostly, and stretching]. My legs hadn't been feeling 100% yet, even after the bike ride, so that woke them up completely and after that, I felt ready to go.

Then we headed out to the road to line up at the start!
[And thus ends the picture taking... One day, I'll master taking pictures while running but I didn't even try today!]
I lined up right at the 31-34min pace marker... trying to be optimistic! My goal for the race was to finish under 35 minutes, and I was hoping to finish under 34, so this seemed to be the perfect spot. Although I maybe should've started further up since I was run/walking and my running pace is faster... but I wasn't sure. Anyway, the gun went off, we shuffled towards the front, and soon I had crossed the start line and was on my way! The start was a slight, short incline up towards the first street [we started on the side of the stadium] but it wasn't hard. And this is why I think I maybe should've started further up: I had to bob and weave through quite a few people because I was running faster than everyone. Oops! Oh well, you race and learn.

I decided to do 4:1min run/walk intervals and the first three intervals went great. Actually, the first interval went so well that I thought about not dropping down to a walk. But, I figured that would harm me in the long run so I walked a minute anyway. I passed 1.5 miles in about 15 minutes and if I had kept that up, I would've come really close to beating my PR. But... I didn't. The next interval, I ended up running 3 minutes, walking 2 because I passed the water station and haven't yet figured out the mechanics of running and drinking water [as it is, I still got half the water all over my shirt instead of in my mouth but it felt just as good!]. The next interval was better, although slower than the first two... and then, the next interval, I was running up a steep hill! They advertised the course as "relatively flat" but I have to remember, relative is completely different here than in Chicago! So my pace dropped a little during that interval because of that, but I'm proud that I managed to run all the way up the hill [without doing any previous hill work!].

Suddenly, I turned a corner and there was the stadium in front of me! Almost at the finish line! Well... sort of. The route actually ended after a lap around the field, so I had to run to the stadium and then inside it. I started running again as I crossed into the stadium parking lot, and decided to run the entire rest of the way. I had less than half a mile to go, and I was feeling pretty spent but knew I could do it. I felt like my run along the outfield was the slowest thing ever but RunKeeper said differently so, hey, another instance of me not knowing my own speed!

I glanced at the clock when I passed over the finish line but I honestly forgot what it said about two seconds later. I stopped RunKeeper at 34:05 but I knew I'd started it before crossing the official start line, so I wasn't sure what my actual time was. Still, it looked like I finished before 34 minutes so I was very happy. I immediately grabbed a bottle of [warm] water that they were giving out at the finish line, and headed back out of the stadium to my bike, where I had another water bottle waiting for me [it was a block of ice when I left my house so I knew it would still be cold!]. After that, I stretched and checked out the vendors, collecting some free swag. I talked to people from a local running store, which has a running club I've been considering joining, and they gave me a coupon for $10 off a $50 purchase [will be very useful because I'll need new shoes soon!]. I won a free pair of sunglasses [cheap ones but still, I need a new pair!], grabbed a free banana from the Whole Foods stand [aww yeah], and picked up a bunch of magnets [not pictured].
race swag! I didn't realize that this picture came out so blurry, sorry! Not pictured: race shirt made of awesome wicking material, which I'm very excited to run in!
Then I wandered around until the race results were finally posted around 10:30. Lined up to see my time... and was so happy with the official results!

33:53! Smashed my goal of 35 minutes and even squeaked by my hopeful wish of 34 minutes. I was 207 overall, which out of 600+ people isn't bad... even if a lot of those were walkers. And I was 14 out of 29 in my division! I was so shocked to see that! So yeah, I'm pretty darn happy about my results! So happy, in fact, that I started crying. Just a weird release of emotions, I don't know where it came from!

Not so happy = flat tire when I got back to my bike. So instead of a quick 10 minute bike ride home to my nice, relaxing bath... I had a 40 minute walk, dragging my bike along. Ugh. But I finally got home, updated twitter and facebook, and got to wash up before heading out with my mom for the rest of the day.
RunKeeper stats
First 5K of 2012: done, finally! Now onto my future running plans... 5 weeks until the next 5K that I'm looking at. I'm going to spend the time working up to running the entire thing, and also running hills. [I also plan on adding morning runs to my routine so my body doesn't get shocked by morning races again.] If I keep my current running pace and run the entire 5K, I should beat my PR in October. Exciting!

A few final notes: I listened to music and RunKeeper coaching on my phone during the race, but I think I'm not going to do that anymore during races. Since I heard music instead of cheering, the environment felt more like any other run by myself and... I don't want that. I want the race environment. I might add music/headphones back in if I start running longer distances but yeah, for right now, I'm going to stick with them for just practice by myself.

I also don't know why, but I didn't focus on my form nearly as much as I usually do. I caught myself watching my feet quite a few times instead of looking ahead. Maybe it was because I was feeling tired, or maybe I was feeling tired because I was looking down and running with poorer form. I don't know. But it's something that I still have to work on.

Onwards to the next race!