Yup…It’s a year of PR’s for me.
Last week I ran a small race in hopes of getting a chipped time to base my training on. I was very irritated when I got there and paid my money and found that while advertised as “chip timed” They actually were not really chip timing people. All the results were based on guntime, the chips were not activated at the start, only the finish. In a real chip timed race the chip is activated as you pass the start, and the finish, and depending on the length of the race, it can be tagged at multiple mile points if needed. (A lot of half Marathons on out and back courses use a timing point at the turn around to be sure everyone made the turn around…)
Oddly, that race was a total mess. I am pretty sure I accidently cut the course by about a quarter of a mile, OR the course itself was short. I finished in 31:50 which would be a PR and I also finished first in my age group. But I was confused as my watch was showing me to be running a 33 minute race, and that the course was short. So I took home the plaque and decided that I couldn’t trust the race time at all.
So this week, I decided to give the Villages a try. I admit, I actually did not want to run another 5K at all. But I had an inkling that something was wrong with my plan. My current training plan is supposed to be really challenging, and I have found it to be challenging, but not astoundingly difficult. Most people report on the speed work that they have to concentrate on hitting the times, and I found I was consistently running slightly faster than those times. So, I wanted a New 5K time. I emailed the race director and asked for a course map and for their definition of chip timing. He got back to me Very Quickly and told me while he did not have a map that the course was all asphalt and that we would be chipped at the beginning and end. I have run a few races with this company and I think I like them . I think I may try to do a few more this summer.
I was dreading it because this week has been HOT. Plus with the stress of my new job, I’ve been a bit scattered.
Well. A cold front blew into Florida the night before the race. Race temps this morning were about 65 degrees, which is just about PERFECT. I knew I had to go. I did dither around and was almost late, but I got out there with all the things needed to run the race.
When I got there, I had enough time to get situation put my shirt in the car, go to the bathroom and have a few good chats with the Villagers. For those of you not from this area in Florida… The Villages is one of these master planned retirement communities. It is a golf cart community and people really do not ever need to drive a car again, as you can golf cart to the grocery store, the hospital, anything. When I first came to Florida, I worked at the Villages Hospital. I really think the Villages is one of the most Fake places in Florida. (And you know FLorida is full of fake.) The people though are actually very genuine, and mostly extremely wealthy. I found them in this atmosphere to be very friendly – maybe more so than the usual race crowd. Several of the older gents advised me of the course, and a few little things here and there.
I bet the Race Director laughed when I asked for a map of the course. It turned out to be 3 loops around a one mile track which is located around the Polo fields. Yes, the Polo fields. You can polo at the villages and they do. The course was really Flat, and of course once I got there I saw why no map had been posted!!!! It was a really good course for a PR, due to the flatness and the loops- after the first lap I had no surprises.
Do you see the ladies with Pom Poms? It’s true The Villages, Florida has cheerleaders….They were out in force, and while I found the idea of it to be sort of odd, I have to say, I appreciated their enthusiasm!!!!
Anyway the race was the 3 laps…I am still struggling with how to run a 5K. And I forgot to set my lap timer, so instead of getting splits at every mile, I was getting an overall pace, smoothed out. I am not used to not having the autolap beep at every mile, so I kept reading it as the autolap pace. At about lap 2.2 I realized with a start that my 10:30 pace which I thought was just for mile three was an overall pace. Ooops. I had been lazy and taking some walk breaks because I am still not pacing that well. And I am lazy. I swear it. Sometimes I just stop and walk because I feel like it, not because I am totally out of breath or because my legs need it.
At the end of the race the last 0.10 is up a slight incline. I started up it and suddenly there was this woman right at my shoulder. She gave me a look, and I am sure I gave her a look- but I was wearing the mirrored sunglasses so no one can say I did anything. But I knew after getting the eye from her she was sure she was going to beat me. So I took off in a desperate sprint. And yes, I passed the line about 30 seconds in front of her. She told me later it took her by complete surprise. I smiled but in retrospect, I should not have had THAT much energy to expend at the end of a race.
I sure didn’t finish first. I came in 16th. Initially they reported me as 11th and with a time of 28:58. My Garmin time was 32:33. So I went to the race director who kindly looked at my tag and said, oh no, thats not you. Your time was 32:40, but thats your gun time, wait for your chip. ANY of these times would be a PR for slow me, so I eventually just went home- with a nice green t shirt and some freebies from local businesses (Yaaay I got some new dishtowels!!!)
On the web site, I electronically finished at 32:05. Which is a LARGE PR. IN February I ran a 32:57. I am not a very good 5K runner so I am pretty happy with the improvement I am seeing. I noted too that with this finish time, the intervals I ran last week are now right on target for the times I am supposed to be running some a second over and some a second or two under, not all of them 8-10 seconds under.
So Bam. No more 5K’s for a while. But I’ll be extra careful in the future to check on the timing situation again. And the VIllages has a 3 race 5K series. I might just do the other 2 in October and January. Its a good place for a PR.