I just returned from my deployment 2.5 days ago. When I knew I’d be back by this weekend, I went online and found a 5k to do. I chose the Run 4 Hope, which benefits the local rape crisis center.
I was excited to race again, but I didn’t have very high expectations. I’ve been having major sleep problems since getting back, likely due to the 9-hour time difference. Also, last night I indulged in 2 bottles of hard lemonade, my first alcohol of any kind in about 5 months. In the last several days, I’ve also managed to gain about 5 pounds, which I’m pretty sure is water weight, but it’s still more to have to carry regardless. Oh, and I hadn’t run at all in the last week or so (and normally when I do run, I take walk breaks).
I left home this morning at 0630 for a 0800 race. It was taking place at Brackenridge Park, which I’ve been to multiple times, but I opted to leave earleir than usual because the directions the race site gave me differed from my normal route. I followed my own directions and got within a half mile before coming up to a “road closed” sign. No big deal; I typed the cross streets from the final directions from the site into my GPS, which put me into a residential neighborhood, haha. Hmm, I plugged the original address back into my GPS and once again, via a different route, made it almost to where I needed to go before getting to another “road closed” sign. At this point, I opted to follow someone else, who was also lost. I could see where we needed to go, but I couldn’t figure out how to get to that parking lot. Finally, I decided to just park where I could and walk.
I picked up my goodie bag and t-shirt. There was a different kind of timing device than I’d previously seen. It was a foam-like strip about a half inch by 3 inches and a quarter inch thick that was stuck to the back of the bib. I had just enough time to drop my goodie bag and t-shirt off at the car and head to the start line.
I noticed today that the national anthem seemed to have more meaning after just returning from overseas. While I was not in one of the really dangerous areas, a lot of the wartime casualties went through our base, so I saw so many flag-draped transport cases. When these would come through, either to our base to be prepped or from our base to go back to the U.S., anyone who was available would come out to pay their respects by standing at attention and saluting as the deceased was carried off of or onto an aircraft. It was so surreal to think that most of these people were younger than me and were perfectly healthy just a couple days prior. And we were witnessing the same scene their family members would see in just a day or two more.
Back to the race… I started off quicker than normal at a 9:30ish pace. It caught me off guard when the auto-lap on my watch beeped sooner than planned. I then realized I’d been messing around doing some of my runs with the units in km, not miles. Oops. Oh well, just more chances to gauge my progress. Surprisingly, I felt really good and noticed that all of my km splits were under 6 minutes, meaning I’d be on track for a sub-30 finish. My fastest official PR was 30:40, which was set at my very first 5k in 2008. This is kind of funny considering all of the running and races I’ve done since then. I’d run slightly faster on a training run and during two previous races, but neither one was chip timed, so they didn’t really count to me.
Anyway, I was surprised that my km splits were each quicker than the previous one. I kept picking out people ahead of me and catching up to and passing them. This was very weird for me, especially so late in a race. Just after the 4 km point, I don’t know how/why it happened, but I tripped and was suddenly sprawled out on my left side. I got some pretty good gouges in my left hand and scraped my left calf from ankle to knee. I quickly got up and felt okay, so I kept on running.
My official finish time was 28:12! I will say that the course, according to my Garmin, was .1 mile short. This is a bit annoying to me, but there were a few parts where the course doubled back on itself sharply, so that could account for a little bit of the difference. However, I know with confidence that I could have run .1 more miles in less than 2:28! Oh, and my km pace for the last .8 km was faster than any of my previous km splits. I also had a chance to sprint at the very end when a girl came up and tried to pass me. It was close, but I think I was ahead under the banner. I’m interested in seeing the finish pictures, though. We high-fived each other after crossing and congratulated one another. My fastest instantaneous pace was 4:35 mm.
I broke my camera a couple weeks ago, but I took a couple photos with my web cam since I had my laptop with me.
This is a really weird angle since I needed to be able to touch the keypad to take the photo, but I wanted a pic that at least partially showed my polka dot running skirt that I ordered when I was deployed that was waiting for me when I got home.