Homecoming 5k - October 2011

I feel like I haven’t blogged in ages. I have been so swamped with life. But, here I am. Back at it. What better way to kick it off than with a new shiny Personal Record. So yesterday I ran the inaugural Homecoming 5k. I didn’t know it was the first until the starting line, but let me start from the beginning.

My wife was out of town for the weekend so I was home alone with the pups. Let me tell you that I am a scaredy cat. I don’t sleep well when home alone. You can now gather that I didn’t get much sleep before the race. I got about four hours of sleep on Friday and five on Saturday. So I felt sluggish when I got up on Sunday.

Also, this was the first 9:30am start time I have had so I felt a little off when I woke up, hung out and then ran. Usually the plan is to just wake up and run. :)

El and I got to the race about an hour before – the usual. There weren’t that many people there, which seemed odd. Usually a place like that is swarming pre-race, but then again I had no idea how many people were signed up for the race.

Met up with some other lovely ladies running the race and just hung/stretched, listened to the marching bands and watched the cheerleaders do their thang.

If you haven’t gathered, they were there to feed in to the whole “Homecoming” theme. There weren’t many sponsor tents there, which also should’ve tipped me off that this was a newer run.

It was time to line up. Now I have progressively gotten faster over the course of this year, but I still never know where to line up unless it is clearly marked. So, we decided to scoot closer to the front. This made me a tad nervous/anxious since I HATE being passed. :P

They had what I think was a taped version of God BlessAmericaand then a couple speeches, which is when I learned this was the first Homecoming 5k.

Finally, it was time to actually start. Most of the races I do inChicagostart in the same area –MontroseHarbor– but pretty much all of them work different routes so it isn’t always the same 3.1 miles. I was interested to see where they were going to take us.

I finally started and straight out of the gate felt weird. I just felt like I was going slow even though as I creeped to the Mile One marker the timer said 8 minutes. Wha? I have never run something around an eight minute mile before. For a second, I thought their timers had to be off, but I looked down at my Runkeeper and it confirmed it. Wow! It was as if my body was doing one thing and my brain was somewhere else.

It was just after Mile One that El started slipping back a little way and I knew I was on my own for the rest of the run. Well, I started out strong and I knew I had to keep it going otherwise hundreds of people were going to start flooding past me and I wasn’t about to let that happen.

As I neared Mile Two, the lead runners started passing me in the other direction. Apparently the course was to run about 1.5 miles and turn back on the same path. It was annoying, yet motivating to see the speedy people fly by.

I hit Mile Two and felt like I was slowing. I think my average speed at Mile One was 8:01 and Mile Two was 8:08 so I knew I wasn’t going to hold the same pace the whole way.

What I decided to do for Mile Three was to find a runner in front of me and just lock in on them. I found a girl in a blue top and just made sure I didn’t fall more than 3 feet behind her. This technique got me through the Half Marathon, I figured it would work for 1.1 more miles.

It may have been the smartest thing I did. Once I had the focus point, I was able to take in more of my surroundings.

Funny thing was I ended up finishing before the girl in the blue top. :P

My previous best was 27:10. I finished the Homecoming 5k in 25:36. Sayy whhaaa?? Who is this person, right?

I was beyond proud of myself. I pushed before my comfort zone and I survived. I proved that I am stronger than I give myself credit. I “stood up and finished what I started.” (Thanks for that Bob!)

I crossed the finish line and immediately grabbed water, half a bagel, half a banana and waited for the rest of the crew to finish.

Overall, the race was tough. I just wasn’t completely in it, but I dominated it!

Here are some thoughts for the Homecoming 5k organizers:

* Maybe bump the start time up by 30 minutes or so.

* Shorter pre-race speeches, if any.

* Different course. The one used had dozens of potholes to run around.

* Have two hydration stations rather than one.

* Offer more post-run food options.

* Also, don’t cut the bananas in half – they are harder to peel.

* Less money on the “alumni” tents that didn’t look like they were really used and instead either add more to the race schwag bag or give out medals.


But overall, it was a great run race for the first one! And either way, I am darn proud of myself for the numbers I put up and would run this race again next year… Go Tufts!