Weather Wear

2010 O’Hartford 5K: Race Report

Summary

This was the first race that my wife and I have ever done!  To think not long ago we would have laughed at the thought of it.  In fact, just a few months ago the thought of running 3 miles was unfathomable.  A couple of years ago I started working out and trying to get into shape.  I thought running was something I would do for some aerobic workout.  I got out at night and ran a two mile loop.  I had to stop to walk 3 times over that loop.  It took me nearly as long to do that loop as it takes me to run 3 miles now, and it turns out that the 2 mile loop was only about 1.7 miles.  Now here we were, registered and ready to run 3.1 miles through the streets of Hartford with over a thousand other people.

Pre-Race

Nothing to tell here really.  The race was a late start 1:00PM w0ot!  So life was normal until about noon when we drove over.  The weather forecast wasn’t great.  Upper 40’s and a high chance of rain.  We packed some clothes in case we needed to dry off after the race.  The race was right by my office so we dropped our stuff there and headed down to warm up and stretch a little.  We watched some kids run the wee-mile, and decided that our kids would do it next year.  Then we warmed up in a nearby building waiting for our race to start.  It was amazing how many people were out there.  The race had a best costume contest and a lot of people wore lots of green outfits.  The one that stood out most to me was the Jolly Green Giant.  Very funny.

The Race

As the start time got closer we got into the street and waited for the start.  The street was packed with racers and everyone was pretty close together.  As the seconds stretched on towards the start of the race I could feel the energy coming over me.  There was electricity in the air and the closer we got to the start, the more fidgety everyone seemed to get.  I looked over the crowd with my virgin eyes, not knowing what expect, but excited at the prospect.  The race announcer’s voice boomed in the air, and the front of the pack was off and running.  A collective yell came out from the runners and the crowd…but despite the excitement, the racers in front of me started in fits.  A few steps forward, and stop, a few steps forward and stop.  I kissed my wife, who was standing there sharing the energy of the crowd, and then slowly, mercifully, we were off.

The Long Mile

The first several hundred feet were slow going.  The road was clogged with runners and there was no way to make headway.  As we made the first turn, the road opened up and I slipped to the left into a relatively open pocket and picked up my pace.  The second turn onto Main Street followed shortly thereafter and the road opened wider.  It was a sight to behold.  The city seemed to pause just for us.  Roads closed, police officers holding off the impending flow of traffic as we ran along the streets like a mob.

People were working through the crowd as the giant race sifter shook the slow people to the back and the fast people to the front.  Time and time again blurs passed by me as if they were egging me on to chase them.  At one point a young girl cut out in front of me and slowed to a crawl.  I worked my way around her thinking to myself how careless some people were to not even look behind them when the moved around and slowed down.  As I shot past her I thought of all the blog entries I’ve read from various women racers who complain about over taking a man only to have him pass them in a fit of machismo.  I contemplated for a second if I would end up a footnote on her blog post, or a weirdo on her Twitter feed.  I didn’t care, I just wanted to go.  It wasn’t long before we were off of Main Street.  I continued my run.  At this point I noticed that, although the road looked the same, it was getting considerably harder to keep running.  I couldn’t place it, but I was tired.

I wondered  if I was running too fast.  What was my pace?  How would I know?  I regretted not laying out the race better so that I would be able to tell where each mile was.  I was sure we were past the mile mark at that point.  My calves and shins started to get sore.   I shook it off and pressed on.  The thoughts kept coming.  Was I burning myself out?  What is going on here?  As I ran I looked at the area around me.  It was very familiar to me.  I used to hang out in this area of Park Street as a kid.  I ran past the barbershop a high school friend’s dad owned.  I ran past the apartment of the dream girl in my high school, who was at one time unattainable, and who not long after, I threw out of my car for paying attention to my belongings instead of paying attention to me–I can’t stand materialistic people.  I ran past the street where I almost lost my life when a friend of mine and I were chased down by a gang.  The street was full of memories of where I was from, where I had been, and now, a new memory of where I am going.

Mile Two

Within a few minutes, I passed the mile marker…wait…that was only a mile?  What on earth is going on?  To make matters worse, I looked at my watch and noticed that I was running slower, not faster than usual at a 10:20 pace.  The race sifter had finished its sifting and now I was running with people who were slower than I wanted to be, I had been sifted out!  I then came to the next realization.  I had been running on a false flat for nearly half a mile.  That explained it.  I picked up the pace as soon as the road flattened out.  It wasn’t long, however, before I saw a monster hill looming in front of me.  I had driven on this road countless times, I had never ever noticed the hill.  How could it be?

I leaned into the hill and slugged my way over it.  I was working hard now, and I could feel the burning in my calves and my shin.  I tried not to slow down.  It was at this point that I realized that I was really hot.  My hands were sweaty, and my upper body was drenched.  At the top of the hill I found the water station.  I contemplated not getting any water because I didn’t need it and I didn’t want to slow my pace.  As I approached the table the crowd of racers opened up and I was able to grab a cup without slowing down too much.  I tried to sip the water as I ran, however, that was not really happening.  I got a few sips then dumped the rest down my back.  Oh what a glorious feeling that was.  Totally amazing!

As I started the descent, the idea came over me that I should run faster.  I really wanted to beat my training pace of 10:00, but more importantly, I wanted to at least match it.  I figured that I would have plenty of time to catch my breath after the downhill.  That was until I turned the corner and found an even bigger hill to climb.  I just about gasped at the look of it.  If you had asked me a week ago if there were any hills in Hartford I would have said no.  In fact, I remember telling my wife that this was going to be a much flatter race than any of our training runs.  Oh how I was wrong.  I trudged along, however, and tried my best to keep my pace.  I passed the second mile marker and noted that I was now at a 10:09 pace.

Mile 3

I made the turn onto Capital Avenue, and there were two people there cheering us on.  I saw a woman on the sidewalk with her child looking into the crowd of runners with an eagle eye.  At that moment I knew that I would want…no need…to have my children there to guide me through the half marathon in October.  In my darkest moment they would lift me up and I would float to the finish, I just felt it.  As I made it up Capitol Avenue, I reviewed my race plan, or rather I should say the idea that I had about how to finish.  I had planned to turn the corner in front of the Bushnell Theater and sprint in to the finish.  I wanted to finish strong and leave it all out there on the streets of Hartford.  Even though I was tired and my sneakers were hurting the soles of my feet (again) I knew I had to do it.  As I approached the state capitol building, a barricade on the side of the road forced me to move right.  I was trapped among a group of runners so I had to either slow down, or speed up.  I chose to speed up and it felt good, really good, so I kept going.  I zigged and zagged through the crowd of runners.  I felt strong as I blasted past people, the race sifter be damned.  As I turned the corner I saw the arch.  The arch was not the end of the race, but it was pretty close to it.  As I looked down the road, my heart sank.  I can’t make it at this pace, I just can’t.  Then I said to myself, yes you can, you can try, you can make it as far as you can, and you can crawl the rest of the way if you have to.  So I ran, I ran down the hill and through the arch passing person after person.  As I turned the corner after the arch I couldn’t see the finish line yet.  I knew I was done, I had to stop now.  Just as that thought entered my head, I heard through the corner of my ear (do ears have corners?  maybe mine do) a man in his late 50’s say to his running partner, we can break 30.  Suddenly they were off.  I think they may have had rockets on their feet because humans can’t possibly run that fast.  I don’t know if it was animal instinct, or just stupidity, but as they passed me my legs just picked up the pace.  I was chasing them.  It was like my legs had taken off on their own and I couldn’t stop them.

The two runners pulled away, their rockets firing in perfect synchronicity, but I kept running as fast as I could.  Every time I thought I was out of gas, my eyes would lock onto someone in front of me and I would say, I am passing them.  I did that ‘terminator eye lock’ time and time again.  It fueled me and I started running faster.  As I barreled into the shoot I heard a blur on my left say “slow down, slow down,” and all I could think was, “yeah right, slow down my ass,” as I rocketed through the timing mats.

My heart was pounding out of my chest and I was gasping for air, but I was thrilled.  I couldn’t believe that I had found that energy, that reserve hiding in there.

My wife and sister-in-law did really well too, and they came in just after I did.  I’m not sure what happened though, because I didn’t see them come through the shoot, and they didn’t see me either.  I was kind of sad about that, I wanted to watch them run through the shoot, but we reconnected a few minutes later.  They were both as happy as I was with the event.  It was a great race, and I hope to do it again next year.

Once again I can see that this whole athletic thing is mental.  Your body has more to offer than most people realize.  If I can push myself this much now, what on earth is on tap for me as my conditioning improves?  I don’t know, by I can’t wait to find out.

Results

5K  Timing Chip Time: 0:29:37 (Pace 9:33 yay!)

Place: 868/1545 overall (by timing chip not overall time)| 59/72 age group

Weather Clothes

Layer 8 long sleeve shirt, Layer 8 running pants.

Temperature: 50 degrees, overcast and windy

I felt a bit warm, however, once the race was over I was very cold.  I need to figure out a way to pack something that will keep me warm post race.


Alone in the Dark

As the car pulled away the darkness pooled around my feet like the tide coming in before the storm.  The envelope of darkness surrounded me.  THUMP THUMP THUMP.  My heart raced as the last light from the car’s taillights rounded the corner and was swallowed up by the darkness.  THUMP THUMP THUMP.  I was there, alone in the darkness, and I could feel the anxiety building in my chest….wait, let me back up.

After missing my first scheduled run I decided there was no way I was going to let another runless day pass me by.  Work got in my way again, so I just couldn’t get the run in during lunch.  Tonight was going to be our swim day so I knew I didn’t want to miss that either.  My wife and I ended up driving together for the swim.

I decided to bring my running gear.  I had mapped out the spot on the way home that was 3 miles away.  I figured my wife could drop me off after swim and I would just run home.  No problem.  So after our swim, I showered, got in my running clothes, and got ready to run.  We drove to the three mile point, and I got out of the car.  It was night time and the car thermometer said it was 37F.  I got out of the car in a nice residential area, and my wife wished me luck.  This was more or less the point of no return.  She was headed home to relieve the babysitter.  Without a sitter I was going to be on my own to get home, one way or the other.

I started running, and my wife pulled away.  As she pulled off the light from the car gave way to complete darkness.  I couldn’t see the moon in the sky, and there were no street lights.  As she turned the corner up ahead my heart sunk.  I was anxious and afraid.  It didn’t make sense to me to feel that way, but I did none the less.  It was so dark that I couldn’t see the street.  There was no sidewalk so I ran in the middle of the street in order to avoid gutters and potholes.

The night was still and calm.  Once I settled my nerves I looked into the sky and stared at the stars.  The night was perfect for running.  Cold but clear.  I ran looking for landmarks.  I have driven along this road for years, so I searched out, anticipating the landmarks.  Every once in a while I would hear a car approaching and I would move over to the side of the road to enjoy the little moments of light that the headlights would provide me.  Once in a while I would come across a street light which provided me with an oasis from the deserted blackness of the night.

As I reached the half way point I realized that I hadn’t been taxing myself too badly.  I was keeping a 10 minute/mile pace.  I actually felt good.  The rest of the run was pretty normal.  I made it home wih a pace of 10:17.  I’m not winning any races, but this was also only my second run at this distance.

A couple of notes.

  • I caught myself slowing down from time to time as my mind wandered.  I would pick up the pace at that point but I think I will have to work on keeping the pace up even when I lose focus.
  • I also noticed that it was hard for me to go any faster, I just didn’t feel coordinated enough to pick up the cadence, I think it will take some practice.
  • I also noticed that I seem to be landing mid foot naturally. This should help with my Pose Running which I hope to begin soon.
  • Lastly, when I got home I did a good stretch, I started to feel my hamstring tighten up and decided that I should try an ice bath.  I didn’t have ice, but since my tap water must run through a glacier on the way to my house it was plenty cold on its own.  OMG the water was sooo cold.  I left my shirt on, and after a few minutes I went numb enough to not feel the cold.  When I got out my legs felt fresh and light.  I think this is the way to go after long runs (ok 5K is long for me, so what?)

Weather Wear

Temp: 38 Degrees

Wind: low

Gear: Layer 8 pants, Layer 8 Shirt

Note: I felt good, however my butt was a little cold.  I think it was because I was wearing cotton underwear which held onto the sweat.  I have some underwear made of technical fabric to try next time.


Sunday Run

With my first 5K right around the corner (2/13) my wife thought it would be a good idea to actually try to run for that long out on the open road.  I have been so focused on swimming that I haven’t run almost at all so doing at least one run at this distance sounded like a good idea.

We mapped out a route using map my run in the hills of Torrington.  I wrote all of the turns on a little sheet of paper and marked the points where each mile ended.

The first mile was up a steady long grade.  It was nice because it helped to get everything warmed up.  I have been reading about Pose running, more on that in a future post, and focused on landing softly on my mid sole.  about 3/4 of the way through the first mile we turned down a hill.  The first mile flew by effortlessly.  I watched my heart-rate monitor and tried to keep my HR at 160.  As it moved higher I slowed my pace down.  I just picked 160 more or less randomly.  It felt like a comfortable pace.  My goal was to do an 11 minute mile.  When I hit my stop watch at the mile marker I noticed that I had done a 10 minute mile!  I was psyched.

The second mile was about the same.  Nice comfortable pace, everything went smoothly.  Even the traffic lights cooperated.  I had plenty of energy reserves, and as I heard my sister-in-law closing in on me, I just leaned forward and opened up the gap.  Once again, as I got to the end of the second mile, I noted a slightly slower pace, but still sub 11 min/mile.  The third mile was up a long slow grade.  this is where the heat started kicking in and, for the first time, I start to feel it.  I was really struggling to make it up some of the steeper parts of the hill.  I finally made it to the top and started a really steep descent.  As I made it down the hill I felt a really strong wind blow over me, it felt amazing!  I let myself build some speed down the hill and then used that momentum to sprint the last half mile.  I crossed the three mile mark averaging about 10:20.  The sprint lasted me almost all the way through the half mile.  The last .2 miles (we ran 3.3 miles) were up another steep hill.  I ran out of gas half way up the hill and had to go back to a slow jog.  I also hit a few patches of ice, and walked for the first time.  Not because I was tired (though I was) but because I didn’t want to risk falling.  All in all I averaged 10:27 which I’m very happy with!

Heart Rate Info:

Max: 179

Min: 130

Average: 163

Pace: 10:02

Distance: 3.3 miles

Elevation Change: 1170 ft

Total Time: 33:56

The route.

I’ve decided to track what I wear and how I feel at various temperatures and conditions to help me figure out what worked best.

Weather Dress Info:

Temperature: 20°F

Wind:  12MPH

Clothes:

Lower Body:

Polypropylene base layer by Duofold

Layer 8 pants over the base layer

Two pairs of Bridgedale Speed Deamon Socks.

Upper Body:

An Under Armour cold gear compression shirt.

A Layer 8 cold gear shirt.

A pair of warm insulated leather gloves.

A Nike reversable knitted cap.

Comfort:

I started out pretty chilly.  We jogged a little to warm up, but I felt cold before getting going.  Not uncomfortably cold, but chilly.  As I started to run the wind bit into my face and my ears felt cold.  I pulled down my hat to cover as much of my head and ears as I could.

By the end of the first mile, I felt fine.  Perfect actually.  By the second mile I started to get warm.  The sun was beating on me, and my head and hands were very hot.  I could feel the sweat coming down my forehead.  There was a big hill at the beginning of the third mile and as I made the turn to start down the hill I felt a huge gust of wind.  If I had been standing there, that wind would have been horrible, but as I ran down that hill the wind felt like such relief.  I just turned up the speed and hoped the wind would continue.  After that I sprinted and when I got to the end I was pretty warm, especially my head and hands.

Lessons Learned

I think for windy weather in the 20’s this setup was pretty spot on.  I think the only changes would be a lighter hat and gloves.  I have another hat, and I picked up lighter cotton gloves so I should be ready for whatever this weekend race brings.


Weather info from www.wunderground.com.

Elevation and distance info from: www.gmap-pedometer.com


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