On Saturday I participated in the Quicker Quaker Oatmeal 5K that was part of the Oatmeal Festival in Lafayette, Colorado.
I met up with my friend, Alison, who had decided to get back into running after a two-year break due to some injuries. I have to tell a quick story about Alison first though. I actually only met her (so I thought) in September, but have known of her for several years. We have friends in the same circle, but never managed to meet, or be at the same functions until last September. But she seemed to have a lot in common with me, and when we actually met at the Mile High Mama’s social media event, we hit it off right away. We had never ran together until Saturday. But we ran at a very similar pace, and in fact we both finished with the exact same time. We were talking more later on Saturday and we figured out we had actually been in the Boulder Youth Symphony together 1989! Talk about a small world!
Back to the race- it started at 9:30, and we ate a great oatmeal breakfast with every topping imaginable with Alison’s husband and little boy. We finished breakfast and had about 45 minutes before the race started so we got organized and started warming up. We stopped at my car to put our free oatmeal swag from the breakfast away, and got someone to snap a picture of us:
We lined up about 10 minutes before the race started, and it was crowded! We were in the front, and it just kept getting more and more crowded. The temperature was probably about 30 degrees. We heard a loud “GO!” and everyone started running, so that was the big start.
This race had some elite runners in it, so they started a few minutes before everyone else. Because of this, the roads were sectioned off. At some point, all the timed runners were going to have to merge into a single lane, so as not to run into the elite runners. The race course started with a nice downhill, and I was pretty certain we would be running up that hill later!
The course was really crowded, right about the time Alison and I felt warmed up and ready to make our move, we had to get in the single lane. There was no room to pass, or proceed at a faster pace. We basically had to just keep running slower than the people in front of us. I found this really frustrating. I hadn’t experienced this before, so I didn’t know what to do, other than just keep going and hope there would be a chance later to pass.
We got to the lake about the half way point, and had to run up a hill to get to the trail on the lake. Once on the trail, it was narrow and there wasn’t any room to pass. I was also a little more tired, because I am not used to running up hills. I made a mental note that I was going to have to start training on more hills! Here’s a picture of Alison on the lake trail:
As we started running downhill, the course opened up a bit, and we started to pick up the pace, and break away some. By the time we were finished at the lake and back on the street, the entire street was opened (since the elite runners were finished by this time) so there was a lot more room to run and find a pacing. But now, all the “little” downhills we had run at the beginning were coming back as uphills. I glanced at my watch, and saw we were at 22 minutes.
I was getting really tired! As we ran up that first hill that was so nice at the beginning, but was now making my thighs burn, I told Alison the hills were killing me. She asked me if I wanted to walk for a while. That snapped me out of it! I wasn’t going to wimp out and walk! I told myself I could get through the hills, and we finally reached the top. Then we just had to keep turning down street blocks that thankfully, were flat. My mind seemed to think every time I turned the corner, that would be the finish, but every time we turned the corner, it was another corner. I didn’t look at my watch again, because I didn’t want to know. It seemed like this race was taking forever! But we were passing people. I felt like my pacing, timing, and overall presence of mind was a bit off.
There was finally a volunteer as we turned another corner who said it was the last corner, and as we turned, I could see the finish line, probably a block away. Here’s me heading for the finish:
It was very satisfying crossing that finish line! The clocks there said 30:56, and I was really surprised. I thought it would be more like 35 minutes at least. I heard Alison right behind me. We gave our timing paper to the volunteer, and it was over! Alison’s husband and little boy were at the finish.
Then I heard “Hi Heather, I saw you pass me there at the end,” and it was a friend from high school. He told me his time, and I had finished a few seconds ahead of him. Then another friend from high school joined us a few minutes later, who had also run. It was like a mini high school reunion, and it was fun catching up. We talked about the course, and I was told even the Bolder Boulder doesn’t have as many hills in it as the course we had just ran.
The official results were out a few hours later, and both Allison’s and my time was exactly 31 minutes. I ended up 18th in my age group out of 78 runners. Out of 663 women, I finished 197th, and out of 1086 total runners, I finished 444th. I was really happy with the results. I told my sister before the race, my goal was to finish in the 30th percentile for my age group and I finished in the 23rd.
I learned so much from this race. First, I need to train on a little steeper terrain. Not all the time, but enough so that a few hills don’t throw me or tire me out next time. Second, Alison said she noticed I wasn’t breathing as effectively as I could be. Thirdly, I need to have a mental plan on how to adjust for the race, if I can’t get my pacing down, or have room to run like I want to for the next race.
I was very happy that I had no shin pain during the race. Afterwards, my shin bones felt slightly sore to the touch, but I had no muscle pain like I did after the last race.
Alison and I enjoyed running together and figured we are perfect running partners, so we are going to start running together once a week. I plan to enter at least one 5K race a month, and hopefully get faster times each race. Alison and I are going to start training for a 7K (4.3 miles) race in March. This is for the longer term goal of competing in a 9K (5.6 miles) race in early May. If I can handle these distances, and my shins hold up, I am going to run in the Bolder Boulder on Memorial Day, which is a 10K (6.2 miles) race.
One thing I can say about running is it is never boring. There are always challenges to conquer. I like that part. Each race presents a new set of challenges. By eliminating them limitations are peeled away. What is uncovered in the process, a layer at a time is strength.