I don't do many 5K's, it's too short a distance for me and they hurt start to finish if you're doing them right. But every once in a while I get in the mood for one and lately I've been thinking it would be good to see if I've improved any over my race from last April. I don't care all that much about doing well at 5k's but I think they're a good indication of fitness. Last April's time was 30:06 by my watch. My official time in the published results was 29:45 but I don't see how that could be. I decide that anything under 29 minutes would be a good goal, maybe a bit on the wussy side but I can't see breaking 28 so 29 it is.
After a bit of shopping around I decided on the CU Turkey Trot. How can you beat a $10 entry fee and a 12 minute drive from home? The 10 am start time meant I could sleep in too. It's a no frills race-no t-shirt or post race feed but I don't need that stuff. I've already got way too many t-shirts and let's face it most 5K post race food sucks anyway. Races are so expensive these days, I found one at Red Rocks that was a whopping $35. For a 5K! Crazy man crazy, I can run up at Reds Rocks for free any time I want.
This race isn't billed as a dog race but I've heard of people doing it with their dogs in the past so I figured I'd take Strummer along and if it was a problem I could leave him in the car. When I got to the start line I saw people with enormous baby joggers, some 2 babies wide, and I figured if those were o.k. the dog should be fine. Normally I flat out refuse to do races where strollers are allowed because a woman ran one into my Achilles tendon once at a race and the pain was excruciating. I decided I'd take the risk since I was already there but I'd try to avoid them as best I could. Eventually I saw a few other people with dogs as well. None of us were quite sure if we were officially allowed to run with them but in the end it turned out to be no problem, none of the racers around me looked annoyed and no race official said boo the whole race.
The course is 2 laps on roads around the CU Research Park. It's not exactly a scenic trail run in the mountains but there is some nice open space on one side and beautiful views of the snow covered Continental Divide when you head west. The course is about as flat as it gets in Boulder so it's a good race for people seeking PR's or qualifying times for the Bolder Boulder. Still, I couldn't believe how crowded it was. I had to do quite a bit of weaving at the start and though it thinned out eventually there were pockets of congestion throughout the race.
I set myself up at the back of the back at the start line since I had the dog and I'm so slow anyway but this was a mistake because I didn't realize so many people would be walking. I got stuck in the crowd for a bit but nonetheless the first mile ticked off in 9:17 and I was plenty happy with that. If I could keep that pace up I'd easily make my goal. Trouble is apparently I couldn't keep that pace up and the second mile came in at a disappointing 9:52 for a total time of 19:09. I'd have to go 9:51 for the final 1.1 meaning I had to pick up a pace I was already having trouble maintaining. My main problem was cramps which in my case is a sign of lack of fitness. A 9:30 pace would mean the last .1 mile would take 57 seconds which would put me at 29:36, well over my goal. Calculating it after the fact, I'd have to have gone to a pace of 8:57 per mile to hit 29 and there's no way I had that in me. I didn't know that at the time of course, I just had a general feeling that the goal was out of reach but I picked up the pace anyway and started passing some people. Near the end of the course you pass the finish line going the other way for a short out & back before you actually finish so I had a good idea of how far I had left to go and picked up the pace on the final stretch back. Just after the turnaround for the final stretch I passed a woman who was running with her husband who was pushing a double wide SUV sized baby jogger. The baby jogger was behind me but she kept speeding up/slowing down so we kept repassing each other. I was nervous enough about the baby jogger being behind me but then with the finish chute about 15 yards away she started encouraging her husband and trying to pass me. I hate when people do that anyway, ie cut you off right in front of the chute. I'm sorry but if you're racing with me you're well out of the hardware and there's no need to be rude/dangerous about the finish line, esp. when you're pushing a giant baby jogger. I decided there was no way in hell I was letting these dorks pass me and/or ram into me and I managed enough of a kick to easily beat them into the chute. Final time was 29:40, well off my goal but at least it gives me an idea of where I'm at and that was the point of the race. There aren't any results posted yet but my time puts me in the middle of the pack for my age group in last year's results.
Race conditions were good, temps. in the 20's which sounds bad but really it's not a bad temp. for racing a 5k and remember here in Colorado it's a dry cold. Despite the bout with stomach flu a week and a half ago I was feeling pretty healthy and well rested, no major health issues or niggling injuries so I think this race is a very good indication of where I'm at.
As for Strummer, he was an awesome boy. I had him on about 3' of leash and he didn't pull or get in anyone's way. He was on task for the first 22 minutes but then got a playful fit and started tugging on the leash and bouncing around. But I told him 'enough' and he stopped and got right back on task, running just a bit to my side and ahead of me. Best thing though was that he was nice & relaxed both during the race and waiting in the big crowd of people at the start. When we first got him we couldn't get him near an event like this because the music/loudspeakers freaked him out so badly. He would go into full panic mode, completely out of his head. It was a wonderful feeling to see him with his pupils a normal size and sitting fairly relaxed by my side at the start line while the speakers blared away and the people crowded around him. He had a few quiet, nervous growls for a couple of dogs that were also waiting at the start line and sitting at the sidelines of the course but I easily got him focused back on me and there was not a single lunge/bark out of him the whole time. Most of the dogs he saw he stared at for a few seconds then ignored, even a couple who were playing rambunctiously off leash. I didn't even bring any treats with me other than a few loose pieces of kibble in my fanny pack.
Overall a fun race though I doubt I'll make a tradition of it. Big, short crowded races are o.k. once in a blue moon but they're just not my thing. I don't think I'd take a dog if I did do this race again. I didn't have any problems this time around but it's too crowded in general. I've got a good idea of where I'm at and what I can realistically expect with my training for the next few months. I was thinking about entering a winter duathlon series but I'm having second thoughts about it now.
I couldn't be more pleased with Strummer, what a good boy! Looks like he's finally growing a brain.
A well deserved post race nap: