Monday, July 07, 2008

1st Place for my 1st 5K

The Event

Rebecca Run
Fairy Lake, Newmarket, ON
Saturday, July 5, 2008

This was a great community event from the goodie bag (i.e. race kit) to the post-race party. There was a ton of support, a nice location and amazing volunteers. We will be returning next year for sure.

The Cause

Rebecca Run raises momey for SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy). There were many children who suffer from the disease at the park in their motorized wheelchairs and some even participated in the 1K event. Along the course were signs with photos of other children with the disease and sadly, many who have passed away at a very young age. Several groups wore shirts bearing the name and photo of children they were running for. This weekend alone raised over $100,000 for the cause, bringing the total raised by Rebecca Run to over $1.1M. It was definitely inspiring to be a part of it.

The Preparations

In the days leading up to the race I was having a lot of issues with my hamstring and on Thursday I was not even able to run for 10 minutes. I bought a neoprene wrap for compression, saw my physiotherapist for some deep tissue massage on Friday, had freezing cold baths and gently stretched. Thankfully, my hamstring felt good on Saturday morning.

The night before we had taken a walk along the 5K route to familiarize ourselves with the twists and turns. It proved vauable to know that a few hundred metres into the course was a narrow boardwalk through the woods where it would be virtually impossible to pass anyone. We knew we had to get a quick start to secure a position near the front, or we'd be stuck until after the 1 KM mark.

We arrived early on Saturday and parked a few blocks away so we could walk to the starting area. We retrieved our timing chips, used the washroom and wandered around a bit. 30 minutes before the race we did a 2 KM warm-up jog. This is something that is highly recommended for a 5KM race since you essentially take off at full speed from the get-go. Once we had warmed up, we spent 15 minutes stretching gently on the grass and watching the 3K runners file in. My muscles definitely thanked me for the warm-up and I felt nice and loose when the gun went off.

The Course

The route took us through the trails of Fairy Lake; some paved, some gravel and some boardwalk as mentioned above. There were several tight turns and small rolling hills. To add to the challenge, the park was not closed to the public so we had to dodge some casual walkers (and Canadian geese!) along the way. We made a 3.5 KM loop bringing us back to the start line, at which point we had to run right past the finish and take another lap around the lake to reach 5K.

The Race

Just before 10:00, we lined up behind the start line in mini corals based on our expected finishing time. Hubby and I located a volunteer holding a "22:00" sign and elected to start there. Before we knew it, it was time to go! Hubby pulled away with the lead crowd immediately (we had not planned to run together) and I held on to my spot, determined not to let anyone pass me before the boardwalk. My tactic worked, although I had to dodge some kidlets. It was actually fun having younger kids (10-ish?) in the race, but they all took off like rockets and of course started slowing down after just 100 metres or so (some of them, not all).

Here we are at the start of the race - hubby is at the far right and I'm in the middle, both in blue shirts):

I held a steady pace through the first couple KM's. My legs felt great, but I could tell that my breath was short. I have never done interval training or speed work of any kind, so running at (what felt like) a sprint continuously was tough. I concentrated on my breathing and kept it under control. At the half way point, I remember thinking that's it?! I knew the second half was going to be tough.

It was around that time that we approached the lake for the first time, so I knew it wouldn't be long before the home stretch. I ran alongside a young boy who was clearly struggling and he asked me how much further we had to go. The poor guy looked like he was about to keel over. I told him we just had to pass the finish line and make one short lap around the lake and we'd be done. I told him he was doing great and assured him he could do it as I pulled away. This distracted me for a few minutes and helped me get through the difficult 2.5-3.5 stretch.

Passing the finish line the first time was painful. I was exhausted and 1.5 KM seemed like a marathon. The crowd cheering on the sidelines gave me a boost as I tried to pick up the pace for the final lap. I had to keep reminding myself how close I was and not to ease up. I noticed that the clock read 15:30 or so at the 3.5 mark, so I knew I was making great time and didn't want to let go of it now. What's a measly 1.5 KM?? It's amazing just how long it can seem.

As I rounded the last corner and caught a glimpse of the finish line, a burst of energy flooded through me (I always wonder where that comes from when just a moment before I felt I had nothing left to give) and I gunned it on the home stretch. I saw my hubby beaming as I crossed the line. I think he was more concerned with my time than his own. ;) My legs were wobbly, my face dripping with sweat and I couldn't stop coughing, but it only took a few minutes and a bottle of water to recover. We had a bite to eat and stretched on the grass as we waited to find out the official results.

Here's my finish:

The Results

My official (gun) time was 23:37 which works out to a 4:44/KM pace. I didn't know I had it in me! The results were finally posted and I was thrilled to discover that I had placed 1st (of 15) in the female 25-29 category! Here are the results: Chiptime (I'm 40th overall). Also note my hubby's strong finish at 21:18 (he placed 2nd but they gave him 1st because the guy who finished 1st in his category also placed in the top 3 overall). We were proud to accept our medals and prize (Lance Armstrong book) together. And we get to return next year as "defending champions." :)

Receiving my prize:

Back @ Home:

I absolutely loved the 5K experience and can't wait to race another. We're planning to run the Frosty 5K (takes place with the Chilly Half) in Burlington next March, which is a famously flat and fast run. Next time around I plan to do interval work on the treadmill to prepare and hopefully shave a minute off my time.


Mel-2nd Chances said...

congrats on a new PR, an amazing time, and 1st place! that's amazing! Keep up the great work!

Marci said...

Wow Marlene, you KICK BUTT!! Congratulations!!!!!

Rach said...

Awesome job! That is an amazing time and great work on the first place finish.

Lily on the Road said...

Wow, what a great PR!!


Anonymous said...

Yo! Congratulations, Marlene. I don't know jack about running times, but first place is first place. Nice one.