I ran my first stand-alone 5K in ages today and, wow - did it hurt! The Santa Shuffle 5K was a first time 5K organized by a local running store to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I was looking for a 5K time to help me set my training paces - I figured that I should start training based on my current overweight, out-of-shape body. Then as I get back in shape and to my racing weight, I can update my training paces and have a sense of accomplishment as I track my improvement.
My hope for today was to be under 24 minutes for the 5K. I know it’s not a fast time, but I didn’t think I could achieve a fast time with the condition I’m in right now. Unfortunately, race conditions weren’t even favorable for that. First, the weather this morning was in the low 30s, with a windchill down to the 20s. I can plan and bundle up for cold weather but I have asthma and sometimes when it gets that cold, my lungs just don’t want to cooperate. Next, of course after feeling great for days, my knee started to hurt today. I tried to loosen up my quad by warming up before the run and stretching but it just didn’t seem like enough - probably because it was so cold. This is where I messed up - I should have packed my Compex this morning and used the warm-up program but I didn’t think of it (possibly because it’s been a while since I’ve had to leave the house at 6:30 for a race and I’m out of practice!). Finally, the course had a pretty significant hill. The course started off with a small downhill, then a flat, then another downhill for almost the rest of the first mile. It was an out and back course which meant that most of the last mile was going to be uphill. Great fun when I knew I’d be tired and hurting by that point.
I met some interesting people before the race. One guy was trying to hit around 7 minute miles after hurting his leg at a half-marathon in September. A young girl running with her father was hoping to run at under a 9 minute pace for the first time ever. (I saw both after the race: She just hit her goal, he just missed.) A lot of people were in holiday themed costumes - I saw plenty of elves and reindeer along with milk and cookies, a wrapped present, and a whole pack of M&Ms. Made me sad that I didn’t wear my elf hat but I did have my Compex hat on.
I didn’t hit my goal - missed it by about a minute - so I definitely have a lot of work to do over the winter. But at least I have a pace to use in setting my training zones. I usually hang around after races to cheer for other finishers and socialize but it was so cold (and I had to get to work) so I changed into my dry clothes then went to Starbucks for a tea. Results weren’t posted yet so I didn’t bother sticking around to see results because I was sure that I was too slow for any of the awards. However, I just found them online and I was 2nd in my age group - and less than 15 seconds back from 1st. I guess everyone was a little slower than normal in the cold. I’m a little sad because the store usually gives out pretty good age group awards at their races but maybe this means that there is more for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.