This morning was the Relay for Life 5k here in eastern PA. Last year I ran this in my build up to the Philly Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, and it holds a bit of a special place in my heart as the first race I ran after my diagnosis. As such, it also served as a reminder of how much I really dislike 5k’s. They just hurt. I’m an endurance animal. I always have been. When I was a kid playing soccer I was never the fastest on the team, but I could run the whole 90 minutes. Now don’t get me wrong, a fast(ish) half marathon isn’t exactly pleasant, but due to the very nature of a long race you’re merely very uncomfortable rather than the real suffering that comes in shorter events. Anyway last year I ran a somewhat respectable 21:53, good enough for 17th overall and 3rd in my age group. Not exactly a personal best, but I was pleased.
What a difference a year makes.
Heading in to this year’s race I’m training for the Philadelphia Marathon. Lots of long stuff and relatively little fast stuff. This leads to a couple problems for a short race: my legs aren’t used to turning over that quickly, and I never feel completely recovered. I ran 18 last Sunday and felt strong throughout (in fact I think mile 13 was my fastest), but then I had some miserable intervals on Thursday. Add to that some calf pain when I run fast and the 93% humidity today and it wasn’t looking good for the home team. In fact I came very close to bagging it, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it so off I went. I seemed to have timed it well, in that I had my packet picked up and was able to start my warmup about twenty minutes before the start. A couple of easy miles later and I was soaked, but I felt good. Then I got to stand in place for what felt like hours while the race organizers talked at us. I’ll never understand why they take so much time to say so little… But eventually we were off. The first mile actually felt pretty good and I went through in 6:50, but another quarter mile in my calf told me in no uncertain terms to SLOW DOWN RIGHT NOW. So I did something I don’t ever remember doing in a 5k before: I walked. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no shame in walking, but I tend to be a bit competitive and watching people who appeared to be in my age group run past… Well it sucked. I walked for about a minute before trying to run again, and after a few tentative strides my leg felt okay so I carried on, albeit a bit more slowly. the rest of the race was really quite uneventful. I passed several of the people who had overtaken me during my mosey, but knew there was no way I could claw back the time I had lost. Interestingly I crossed the line in 22:52 – almost exactly one minute slower than last year and good for 21st. It’s the slowest 5k I’ve run in a long time, but I’m still happy with it. Based on my current training, I expected to be around that time without the calf issue, so I’ll take it. After all, there’s always next year.
Oh and somewhere along the way my infusion set fell out. Stupid humidity.