Saturday (9/5/2020), I race my first in-person race since the Atlanta 5K on March 1. In the meantime, during COVID and the subsequent shutdowns of
lots of most things (including 100% cancellations of races), I’ve done a few virtual races, most notably the Cooper River Bridge Run. I also completed the 8 week advanced 5K plan by GlowBodyPT. The past 6 months have been the longest I’ve gone without racing since I gave birth to Asher in 2014. I’m not complaining; I understand mass gatherings are not smart, so I understand no races right now. But it doesn’t mean I’m happy about it 😛
So, I saw this race, hosted by Junction 311, and thought YES, it’s time! They offered a very staggered start, a new-to-me venue, and temps were supposed to be low (finally!) Plus, I figured I was still fit from the past few months of training, so I figured I could run a decently fast time.
Of course, I didn’t acknowledge all those vital red blood cells that I donated at the Red Cross ten days ago.
They even sent me this very cool GIF:
This isn’t the first time that I thought I’d still be fit after giving blood. It messed me up when I ran the Old Town Beerun a few years ago. I finally realized–just the other day–that I need to donate when I’m completely finished with a training cycle, and taking a few weeks of recovery.
I already knew I’d be weaker than usual… my Whoop recoveries haven’t been green (in the more-recovered zone) since prior to the blood donation. But I still held out hope!
Without more rambling, here’s the race report.
Race: The Quarry Park PopUp 5K, hosted by Junction 311, in Winston-Salem, NC. Gorgeous location!
Goal: I had hoped to be in the 24-25 minute range. Factoring in the blood donation, I thought maybe 26 minutes.
Gear: Oiselle shorts and crop top; new Garmin Fenix 6s; Smartwool socks, Altra Kayenta shoes, and Bose SoundSport headphones. Plus my Whoop band.
Gut: I attempted to carb-load slightly the night prior, with white rice, but I had eaten some tasty fried food at lunch that didn’t agree with me, so I spent most of the day prior feeling sorry for myself and wishing I had made a blander choice. The morning of, I just had 2 Clif Shot blocks, plus some Nuun electrolytes, and Maurten formula.
Weather: Unfortunately still 70* with 74% humidity. The cold front didn’t come in til today! There was a nice breeze though–small consolation.
Pre-Race: I woke up at 6, and immediately realized I hadn’t printed out the waiver. Oops… hopefully they’ll have one for me to sign! I started to hydrate when I saw the weather wasn’t 57* as predicted (13 degrees off just seems ridiculous). I accidentally set off our new alarm when I opened the door to let Luna out, so I didn’t feel great about potentially waking up the whole family. As a result, I left earlier than expected, out the door by 6:20 (poor Luna wanted to come so badly), and arrived by 6:45. I checked in, signed the waiver (stating I didn’t have Covid or any symptoms), got my race number, and headed over to check out the Quarry Park itself. I needed to go to the bathroom, and nearly shrieked with delight when I found the doors to the public restroom unlocked. YES!
I loved exploring the quarry area:
I only saw one other racer during this time. We both warmed up on the greenway, towards the mile 2 marker of the race. I tried to go super slow for the warm up, but my heart rate still hit 150 beats per min, so I had more warning that it wasn’t going to be a great day.
I got my bib ready at the car:
Grabbed my headphones and did a few grass strides. I wasn’t feeling super energized, but hoped I could still run strong.
Race: The other racer went first, at 7:30. I told him I’d try to catch him–ha! He was blazing, and I only saw him because of the turnarounds. I gave him about a minute, then I started. This is weird the COVID-era races are very, very different. No standing in a big crowd buzzing with excitement and nerves. No starting gun. Just me, on my own time and terms, crossing the start line. I hit “start” on my new Garmin fenix watch–my first race with this watch.
Immediately, I headed downhill… very steep downhill. This is gonna suck big time coming back up. The turnaround was up a little hill, about half a mile in, and a volunteer told me I was in second place, and first place for women. Haha… yes, I am. Since no one else is out here!
The hill did indeed suck on the way back. I was suffering and really wanted to walk. It was not only steep, but long too, and I could tell any chances of being in the 24-25 minute range were gone. My first mile was over 9 minutes, and I was red-lining already (giving it max effort).
The second mile snaked along the greenway, towards Waughtown. Around each bend, I thought I’d be at the turnaround, but it took an entire mile (imagine that!) to reach it. I was doing the positive pep talk already, and very thankful for my music. If I had to listen to my winded breathing the whole time, I think I would’ve been even slower. Finally, the turnaround, and heading into the last mile. Even though I was suffering, the last bit was downhill, towards the quarry, so I picked it up a little.
The finish line was anti-climatic. No crowds, no cheering, no photographer, no family or friends. Just the race organizers and a few runners. That’s just the way it is right now. I crossed the finish line, with no runner’s high or even much feeling of accomplishment. I was just very glad to be done!
I walked over to a picnic table to catch my breath.
I recorded my first Instagram live video there 😉 Just gave a few minutes’ overview about how it went.
Results: I ran 28:56 (not my finest 5K by a long shot), good enough for 8th place of 18 people, 2nd place of 9 women, and 1st place of 3 in my age group. However, this was an age and gender-graded race, so my “new” time after the age & gender grading was 25:35, which put me in 10th place overall. So… I don’t feel awful, but I also wish I could’ve done better. I am realizing that I should never take for granted fast times, because they don’t come easily. Official results here.
Recommend: I don’t know if this will be a repeated race, but I would run it again just to try to be faster! I thought it was a challenging, yet interesting, course. I’d enjoy trying it as part of a normal race venue, where we all start at the same time and are on the course together. There were no extras: no medal, I didn’t purchase a shirt, no post-race snacks or treats. On the bright side, I saved my appetite for a yummy & nutritious breakfast when I got home!
Next up: I really don’t know! I have the virtual Peachtree Road Race (10K) which is around Thanksgiving. I’m not sure what I’ll do between then and now… other than go on vacation next week to SD!