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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Honor America Days 5K Run in Rome New York

rome runners HADays 5k

If you ever need an excuse to avoid a scheduled long run, a local race hits the mark.

When a 16 mile run was scheduled one Saturday, I was not feeling any love for the road.  The decision to turn a long run into a short speed session worked out better than I could have possibly hoped.

I was in a slump. The entire week was filled with excuses of why NOT to run.  6 .6 miles were eeked out on Tuesday.  A 5 mile jaunt accomplished on Friday.  That was it. The thought of tackling the 16 miles depressed me.  It was a slump for sure. 
I noticed a local 5K race was being held one town over. It was listed as a "Grand Prix" race on the Utica Road Runners calendar. This meant points could be accumulated and totalled for an award at the end of the year.  Why not?  I was looking for an excuse.

Saturday morning, still not sure what my body wanted to do, I took my dog for a 2 1/2 mile run.  My legs were feeling ok but not enough for a long run.  I left for Rome over an hour before the event since I had to sign up. 

It was an informal affair.  Sign up was outside of City Hall.  A t-shirt was handed out and pamphlets detailing upcoming races.   We were going off at 8:30 am.  I tweeted and updated my status on Facebook as I waited around.  As usual, the nervous anticipation of running a race built up.  I tried to calm myself by engaging in conversation with a couple of other runners.

The conversation with others was about running (what else?!).  Good conversation and no concerns that the other person wasn't interested. After all, why were we there?!

At 8:30, the announcer said "Ready, Set, GO!"  The whistle blew.  A very informal start.  There were no time tracking devices attached to shoes nor bibs.   Simply bib numbers and a time clock at the end.
My legs felt like jelly.  Darn those pre race jitters.  I was hoping they would shake out within the first half mile.  Instead, it took about 1 1/2 miles before the butterflies flew away.  I was running hard.  After all, the course was flat and fast.  It was short AND it was suppose to be a speed workout.

My mouth was dry.  It was hot. Where was the first water stop? I had a tough time getting into a rhythm. I saw the 1 mile mark and thought “I REALLY wish that was 3! Why aren’t the fast guys passing me yet on the loop home? Where DOES this course go anyway?”

I passed a runner who whispered “Good job”. I said “You too”. Then wondered if he was directing his whisper to the lead runners coming back in the opposite direction (FINALLY!)?  It dawned on me that I wasn’t too far behind those lead guys.  My pace must be pretty good. It was a competitive pace anyway.

The turn around point was in the parking lot of the Rome Hospital. A young man in front of me suddenly stopped.  I said “Come on. We’re passed the half way point. You can do it".  He responded with “I know. I got a cramp”. Poor kid. He’d be passing me in a few minutes, I was sure. But I never saw him again.

There is something about reaching the half way point in a race.  The last half always seems shorter than the first, no matter how much harder it is for your body.  Is that just me or does it seem that way for you as well? 

There were plenty of spectators cheering runners along.  Many locals were running as names were being called out left and right.  It was a good crowd.  A friendly run. 

I checked Garmin, but only for time.  I refuse to look at my pace.  When racing, you push yourself and that push should be based on how your body feels.  Associate inwards and check your breath, your form, any aches, pains?  When you rely on a pace clock, it may mislead you into running a race you could have run faster or should have run slower (e.g D N F! Oh No!).  Run with your head not with your GARMIN. 
Anyway, back to checking my Garmin for distance.  I was at the 2.76 mile point.  My thought was  "I can SO do this."    I didn’t have much of a sprint for the finish left in me but I did cross that line in a new PR time of  
That’s almost 2 minutes off my previous best time.  It was my fastest 5K ever. In fact, when I set my ultimate time goal for 5K's, it was at 24 minutes.  Who knew?  Hard work and dedication DO pay off.

I won the female Masters first prize of $75.00

1st Masters Female!
And an adorable hand made runner award.  
The happy runner:

As with most runners, that last PR leaves me wondering if I can go for more.  Will it be worth trying for 20:00?  Not sure.  My next 5K will be a casual run at the Turning Stone on August 19th because the "true grit" will be on Sunday when I run the Turning Stone Half Marathon.  What's my goal?
The ultimate half marathon goal on Joanne's wish list is:   1:44:00

As for the Honor America Days 5K, it's a race you won't want to miss next year.  A lot of friendly runners.  A lot of friendly support.  A great PR course.  Terrific after run food and refreshments PLUS all the festivities of the day since it's a big celebration weekend in Rome, NY.

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