Race Report – Turkey Day 5k – Phoenix 2014

Today was my first race since March. My training has been sketchy at best over the past few months. I didn’t expect much from the race but am disappointed with the result. I was a full 2 minutes slower than my PR. Here’s how it went…

Early Morning: I planned on waking up around 4:30AM to go through my usual morning routine of showering, shaving, quick stretches, yoga, etc. before I headed out. Unfortunately, I woke up with somewhat of a start at 5:38AM. I needed to leave the house at around 6:10AM leaving me no time to shower or shave or stretch or meditate. I simply ate a yogurt, drank some water, dressed and headed out. Admittedly, I was a bit annoyed and frazzled.

Race Arrival: I arrived at the race start and parked at around 7:00AM. I still needed to pick up my race packet. It was chilly out. I was dressed warmly and knew that I need to quickly pick up the bib and head back to the car to get ready for the race.

Packet Pickup: There were tons of people still registering for the race. The line must have been at least 100 strong for registration. There were already more than 3,000 registered. For a 5k/10k race, that is a large number. I took note that it would be a crowded race today. This meant I should start somewhere in the front. I had no trouble picking up my packet, heading back to the car and pinning it on my shirt. I decided to wear a long-sleeve shirt, no gloves, my favorite Ironman visor and my favorite running shorts. I was ready.

Pre-race Nerves: I headed back to the race start, used the facilities and waited for the sun to come up. I was chilly in my shorts and a thin running shirt. My resting heart-rate was elevated. This is normal because of pre-race nerves and the chilly air. At around 7:40, I jogged for 5 minutes including a quick 30-second sprint. I felt good. The race was scheduled to start at 8:00AM. With 10 minutes to go, I took a bite of a Stinger Waffle only to find that it was a bit stale. I ate a Cliff bar instead and headed to the starting line. I made my way to the front only to hear an announcement that the start is delayed by about 10 minutes because the restroom line was still too long. Annoying!

Race Start: We all stood at the starting line with nervous energy. I crouched down trying to stretch my thigh, quad and calf muscles and noticed all the branded shoes. Asics, Brooks, Mizuno and Saucony were the most popular brands. A few Nike and adidas shoes dotted the feet landscape. An older man and a young girl were next to me. She was in purple. He was in gray. She looked fast. He did too, but not quite as fast. They talked about this and that to kill the final 5 minutes. I listened and waited.

The First Mile: At 8:15AM, the race started. It was a mess for the first quarter of a mile. I was weaving in and out of traffic. I saw the girl in purple pass me. My pace was right around 7 minutes. I wanted to maintain this pace for the first 2+ miles and then pick it up for the final stretch. My breathing felt a bit heavy; my heart rate was showing 185+ which means that my heart monitor was acting quirky. At the half-mile mark, I decided to make the girl in purple my key. She looked like she was flying. Her stride was smooth; her cadence was slower than mine. We took a left turn as I hugged the curb and we finished the first mile soon after. Mile 1 Pace 6:56

The Second Mile: We were now going north on 3rd Ave. The wind was just a bit in our face. The girl in purple was running right next to me. I passed dozens of folks. A guy with a blue-gray winter hat passed me along with a girl in red. So did a tall guy in green. They all were faster than me. I wondered if I could catch any of them on my way back. We took another left turn at the 1.5-mile mark. The guy in green slowed down as I passed him right at the turn. The girl in purple had fallen back  by a few steps. The girl in red and the guy in the winter hat were striding in front of me. At the two mile mark, I looked at my Garmin and realized that I had slowed down. Mile 2 Pace: 7:05

The Finish: I picked up the pace just a bit. I was within reach of the girl in red. She kept pace with me as I passed her. I also passed more people who had started in front of me. My heart-rate was now constantly in the high 160s. It was full level-4 effort. I just wanted to keep up the pace for the rest of the race. Out of nowhere, the guy in green flew by me. I could do nothing but watch. I picked up the pace a bit more at the 3-mile mark as I passed the guy with the winter hat. My finish was strong. Mile 3 Pace: 6:57.

Overall, my time official time was 21:48. This is a full two minutes slower than my PR. I came in 4th in my age group (out of 70) and 58th overall (out of 2,625). Not bad, but I should be able to go a lot faster! There will be more races. I’m happy to be back into the racing world.

I spoke to the girl in purple after the race. She ended up winning her division. Congratulations to Erin!

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