The Paul Moore Foundation is a non-profit that Rob’s cousin founded to help support young families with a critically ill parent. They raise money for these families so that the family can focus on treatments and spending time together instead of worrying about the financial burden that comes with serious illnesses.
Last year, I took part in the first annual Paul Moore Foundation 5k. When I learned that the tradition was indeed continuing, I was excited to take part again. This year, the 5k was a benefit for Kristy Carpenter, a young mom who was diagnoses with cancer shortly after the birth of her second child, hence the “Fight like a Girl” label for the race this year.
I planned to use this 5k as a fitness test. I wasn’t sure where Ironman training had left me in regards to speed over shorter distances. I decided to shoot for a 7:00/mile pace (21:44). I did a prediction workout and was able to run 4 x 1600 at 7:00/mile, so I felt like that pace was within my reach, though I wasn’t sure how I’d do running in a small race without the track or other runners to keep me aware of my pace.
I woke up Saturday morning to a wet, miserable mess. And it was cold—around 46°. I had no idea what to wear (as is common during the first few weeks of fall and then winter), so I just brought everything. I wore ¾ length tights under some looser pants. And I had on a t-shirt under a dry-fit under a running jacket under a hoodie. Rob and I ended up arriving at the race about an hour early while all the volunteers were setting up the tents and booths. He immediately found his cousin and started helping out, and I eventually wandered over to the check-in/registration tent, trying as much as I could to keep my feet dry.
After checking in, I stripped off one layer and went out for a warm-up jog. I probably ran a little over a mile and a half, and during that time I got hot. I had been planning on running with my dry-fit over my t-shirt, but I decided to race with just my t-shirt instead. After my jog, I did some stretching and some fast striders in the parking lot. I warmed up more completely for this race than for the races I’ve done in the past, which is something I’ve been working on.
Fortunately, as the runners headed over to the start, the rain stopped. Rob decided to go track down some coffee at a gas station and took off. We all lined up at the start and waited around for quite a while. I had shed all my layers and was starting to get pretty cold. After fifteen minutes or so, the organizers called us to attention. They talked a bit about the organization and Kristy’s story before the countdown. Three… two… one… go!
I took off at what I hoped was a controlled pace. And I was all alone. I heard footsteps behind me for about 50 meters before they faded. At that point, I figured that, unless I faded pretty significantly, I was probably going to be running by myself the entire race. I had to rely on myself as opposed to other runners to keep my pace consistent.
I crossed my first “checkpoint” (.24 miles) almost 20 seconds ahead of schedule. I shortened my stride and put on the brakes a bit. I didn’t want to burn myself out. My pace felt easy, and I felt strong. Rob drove by, coffee in hand, and cheered for me out the window.
It wasn’t long before I was approaching the end of the first mile. I wasn’t sure whether to expect a mile marker or not, so when I didn’t see one, I wasn’t too worried. I had enough “checkpoints” written on my hand to keep me aware of my pace.
Near the end of the first half, the race turned onto a paved bike path. When I checked my watch at that point, I was around 9:07, still over ten seconds faster than the 9:22 that I was supposed to hit at that point. I knew I’d be turning around in just a minute and a half and used that as a motivation to keep my pace up. However, when I did eventually turn around, I saw I had gone from over ten seconds ahead of pace to over ten seconds behind pace. I knew I had not lost a full 25 seconds during two minutes of running, and I thought maybe I had miscalculated my original checkpoints. I was a bit disappointed because it was pretty clear at this point that a PR or 7:00/mile pace was out of my reach. However, I still wanted to finish strong, so I stayed in the game mentally.
After the turn-around, I got a view of who was behind me. There was one man a little ways back, and then third place was another woman. Neither of them seemed like immediate threats, but I knew I couldn’t fall apart and stay in front. I didn’t pay as much attention to my checkpoints on the way back. I was already behind, and I didn’t want to get discouraged. Instead, I just focused on keeping the pace hard. Some of the folks still on their way out called out to me or cheered for me as I passed. I tried to acknowledge some of them, but I didn’t do a very good job. I was almost completely focused on running hard at that point.
During the final mile, I just focused on looking for the turn, keeping my arms active, and keeping my cadence high. I felt the beginnings of a side stitch, but fortunately, it never fully materialized. I made the second to last turn and then started looking for the final turn. I was scared I’d turn early, so when I saw a street that I thought might be the finish, I quickly changed my mind and figured it was probably the next street. As I ran by the street, however, I heard someone yelling, so I quickly turned around and did indeed see the finish line down the street I had just run past.
I turned on the street, trying to finish strong and make up a little of the time I lost from the navigation error. I pushed through and stopped my watch after crossing the line. 22:30. Huh. I was vaguely disappointed, as I had hoped to run faster than that (and felt I had the fitness to run faster than that as well). However, it was fun to come away with the win. I thought it was especially apropos that a woman win a “Fight like a Girl” 5k.
A few minutes, the second-place guy crossed the finish line. The woman I’m assuming was his wife went over to congratulate him. Then she turned to me. “I’m so glad a girl beat him!” she said. I responded with my typical nondescript noise that I make when I don’t know how to proceed in a conversation. Then the guy commented on how I must race a lot and how fast I was for a girl. I tried not to act completely confused. When Rob came up, I told him how confused I was. “I mean, I’m fast-ish, but it’s not like I’m really fast. I don’t get it. If he’s run many races, he’s been beat by plenty of women. But if he hasn’t ever run a decent-sized 5k before, why is he hung up on getting beat by a woman?”
The mystery remained unsolved, but we moved past it.
One of Rob’s cousins crossed the finish, and I chatted with her a bit. I saw that she was wearing a Garmin, so I asked, “What did you get for the course length?”
“I got 3.2-something,” she replied. “And it was still looking for a satellite, so I didn’t start it until about there.” She pointed to a tree about a hundred meters or so from the start line. The course was relatively straight and didn’t have many turns, so I don’t think that tangents would account for the added distance.
So I’m totally going to be the blogger that says the course was long. It makes sense, as it was a small charity race with the turnaround on a bike path. It would also explain how I stayed on pace so well except for on the last stretch before the turnaround. So, if the course was accurate, I ran a 7:12/mile pace. However, if the course was long (somewhere between 3.2 and 3.3 miles), I ran anywhere from a 7:02/mile pace to a 6:50/mile pace. There’s no way to know for sure, which does make me tempted to sign up for another 5k to see what I can do.
After the race, we enjoyed the silent auction and some time with Rob’s extended family. I also got a chance to try a common LDS vice for the first time. Because Mormons don’t drink coffee or alcohol, many of them have adopted “dirty sodas” as a treat. These are essentially sodas with shots of flavor or puréed fruit. I had never heard of this before I moved to Utah, but it was pretty good. And I’m a big fan of soda after I run, so it was a nice treat.
As Rob and I were getting ready to leave, we passed by a young woman sitting with second-place guy (his daughter, perhaps?). She said, “Oh, are you the one who beat him?”
“That’s great! He’s told, like, thirty people already, so I think it really bothers him!”
I again uttered my go-to nondescript response. After we left, Rob and I picked up the conversation about what that guy’s deal was. We weren’t mad or upset about it. He seemed friendly enough. It was just weird. We could not figure it out. Eventually, we settled on the idea that this guy was the fastest guy at his Crossfit gym (no offense, Crossfitters!), so he felt fast even though he wasn’t a serious runner. Some sort of active participation in another form of exercise was the only thing that made sense.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the race. The day before and morning of the race, I was just kind of dreading it. I didn’t want to run it. I even briefly considered trying to find an excuse not to show up at the race. I wasn’t feeling it. However, after running the race, I felt like I had seen my strong base from Ironman training in action. It renewed my interest in doing some shorter races this fall as opposed to killing off that desire for a while like I expected it to.
The main take-away from this race was that I need to start being a little more structured in my training again. It’s time for me to start planning my workouts at the beginning of the week again and training with more of a purpose. I know what I need to do to make the progress in triathlon that I want to make. I need to keep swimming. I need to add in interval work on the bike. And if I have the time and desire to make some strides in my running, I’ll do that as well.