April 12, 2014

April 12: Totally Rad 80s Run (5K Race)

Total time: 46:27
Total distance: 3.1 miles
Last year's time: 38:50

I have a bit of a fondness for the Totally Rad 80s Run, aside from the fact that it is 80s themed... and that's that, last year, it was my very first official 5K. By "official" I mean in a race setting, not running my usual trail on my own. I wasn't super impressed with the race last year - it was its first year, and there were kinks to be worked out. The finish line was not much more than a sandwich board that said "Finish" and for some reason I was thinking that there was supposed to be music along the route so I didn't bring my iPod and was a little disappointed. Interestingly enough, this still holds the record as my fastest 5K to date.

Going into Year Two, I knew it was going to be a totally different experience, for several reasons. One, it was in April and not June, so the weather was likely to be significantly cooler. Two, they were doing chip-timing this year. Three, the friends I'd done it with last year were busy so I was basically flying solo. I mean, I'm a solo runner, but it's nice to have friends to do a race "with" - even if I don't see them at all during the actual running bits, it's nice to have someone to meet up with at the finish line after. I debated backing out, especially since I'd just done one the week before and I obviously wasn't in any better shape than I had been then. Intervals it would be! I also did a better job with my ensemble this year.

As luck would have it, a couple friends were suddenly out of a 5K that day when the one on campus got cancelled, so I talked them into doing this one instead. One of them showed up with a fully-functioning cassette-playing Walkman.

I was prepared this time, musically. I'd curated an 80s-tastic playlist and loaded it to my phone. Normally I use my ancient iPod Shuffle, but I really didn't want to wipe out my regular playlist so I resigned myself to dealing with a phone armband. Naturally, this was something I wasn't used to, and I had trouble getting it going. The volume on my phone was turned up too loud and when I plugged my headphones in, I got blasted with sound, so I was trying to finagle that nonsense at the start line. I pulled off to the back and let the race go ahead and start around me, starting near the back of the pack... which, frankly, is fine. Then my watch couldn't figure out where I was in time so it was probably a good few tenths of a mile before my GPS kicked in. Close enough, I decided - it would give me an idea of roughly where I was at and my actual time would be chip-recorded.

This race was hard. The route was mostly the same as last year, except it started and ended by a bar called Mullets (naturally) instead of winding back into Principal Park (home of the Iowa Cubs baseball team). It was a nice route, mostly flat.

But it was hot. OMG, so hot.

I couldn't figure out why I was struggling so much. Sure, it felt warm, but I didn't realize how hot it had actually gotten since arriving to check in. Keep in mind, this is April, and just the prior week, I had been running in 35-degree weather. There was a point somewhere just past 2.5 miles where I was seriously concerned about the possibility of throwing up.

Turns out, the temperature had skyrocketed into the upper 80s.

When I got in my car afterward, the readout was 89 degrees. Seriously, is this April or August? Cause that's an August temperature. (I'm not complaining... I don't think. At least it wasn't freezing! But it was a bit of an extreme jump.) No wonder I was having a hard time. It was about fifty degrees warmer than it had been the previous Saturday, and about forty degrees higher than anything I'd run in yet this year. My body was thoroughly confused.

Fortunately, I did not vomit or pass out or suffer any severe heat-related ailments, but damn. That was a HARD race. I always look forward to the finish line, but I have never been so happy to be done as I was that day. And then I was handed a spiffy boombox-shaped finisher medal, which was kind of odd. I mean, I get that the Totally Rad Race Organizers were stepping up their game this year, but to me, finisher medals are for things like half-marathons and above. Sure, finishing a 5K is an achievement, but I don't really feel like it's medal worthy unless you won your division. (I've never been a fan of participation medals, either.) I also really didn't feel like I deserved it because I didn't run the whole thing. By my standards, this wasn't really a stellar performance, definitely not one to be rewarded. It was probably one of the worst races I've run, actually. Not to mention the fact that it was almost eight minutes slower than last year. Eek.

But then my friend met up with me and we hung out at Mullet's for a while (they have sweet potato tater tots with this marshmallowy dipping sauce that is amazing, should you ever find yourself there.) 

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