Sunday, May 11, 2014

Race Report: Provo City 5K

Race day started at 6 AM with some Honey Bunches of Oats and YouTubing some classic Disney songs (I dunno why, but I really wanted to listen to that. Maybe because their cheery and uplifting?)

Then I took a shower and shaved my arms and legs-I remember doing the same thing before the triathlon and I think I'm always going to do it pre-race as a sort of ritual. The Spartan warriors used to do something similar by taking off their clothes and covering themselves with oil the night before a battle, and while that probably had some homo-erotic overtones, I imagine it also helped them to get a sense of their own bodies, to confirm to themselves that they were physically prepared for the contest ahead of them.

I got to the start line almost an hour early, so it was nice and quiet and I had plenty of time to get warmed up which was about 25 minutes of jogging in this really swanky neighborhood in north Provo. I thought I had been all over this city, but I had never seen this place; these were mansions with long driveways, fountains, and luxury SUV's parked in each driveway. And at 8:30 AM on a Saturday morning no one was up, so it serene and beautiful and still.

By the time I got back my family was there which was really great. I use to run a lot time but it's taken me a long time to get past injuries and get back into it, so I think they knew how important this was to me personally.

My sister's kids said something funny-a common occurrence. 
Check out that race kit! I just bought it the night before and I was pumped to wear them. I mean, what's the point of running if you can't look cool doing it?
The half marathon was already going and my nephew Tyler got out there at cheered on the runners.

Everyone is checking out my shoes.

Momma bear and her cubs. And some dude in the back stretching.

Own it!
This race has a great gimmick, which is that the Mayor was running it as well, but he gets a two minute head start and the rest of us have to catch him. (Mayor Curtis is the bomb, by the way. My brother and I were joking that we see him everywhere: case in point, I saw him 12 hours earlier at an open-air concert downtown.) Now he's an old guy so I figured I could get him, but two minutes is a pretty long time in a race as short as 5K, so when I saw him at the start I walked over to say hi and casually asked him what time he was planning on running to size him up. He laughed and said he was just gonna get through it. He asked me my goal, I said about 20 minutes and he wished me luck.

That walk to the start is always the most nerve-racking.

Let's do this!

About 300 people showed up-mostly weekend warriors, but there were a handful of serious runners in the group too.

This is a great shot of my shoes: the New Balance 1400. Killer kicks, I've put a couple of months on them so I'm gonna write a review soon.

And they're off!
The race went pretty much exactly according to plan. It was a straight shot down University Ave with no turns or hills so it was about as simple as a course can get. I went out comfortably fast, which ended up being 6:50 for the first mile. From there I just gradually ramped up the pace and tried to hang on until the finish.

I did end up catching the Mayor, about 8 minutes in. He remembered me, though and as I said "good job" he replied, "You too! Good luck going after that 20 minutes!"

About halfway through University Ave crosses University Parkway, and because it is a busy road they had a bunch of cops stopping traffic as I flew through the intersection. I run a lot around town and usually I'm the one waiting for the cars, so it was sweet to see them all stopped for me this time.

Mile two passed in 6:29, and at this point I was starting to feel the fatigue set in. The wheels weren't entirely coming off, but I definitely had to start concentrating on keeping the pace up and fighting off that inevitable feeling that you just want to take it easy and slow down a little. I focused on my form, kept my cadence up, and zeroed in on the finish line that was rapidly approaching.

After high school I switched to running longer distances, so I hadn't run a 5K since I was a teen; the first thing I was reminded of is how quick the race goes by. You have so much training and warming up and stretching and strides, and the actual event feels like a single moment, a brief blur of adrenaline.

The race finished at the intersection of Center Street and University Ave, the nexus of downtown Provo right in front of the courthouse. There hadn't been a lot of spectators early on so most of the race was actually pretty quiet, but at the finish there were plenty of crowds and music and noise. My family had left the start line a few minutes before the gun went off and were going to try to get to the finish before me, so while I was mostly focusing on the finish I also stole some glances around to see if I could find them. At that exact instant, I spotted them and my brother Court grabbed this great photo:

THAT is how you finish a race.
Moments later I barreled through the finishing shoot and it was all over. Five kilometers in 20:37. My goal was under twenty, but being my first race in so long I really had no idea where my fitness was at. It felt good, though, fast, smooth, and not near as much pain as I used to remember from my days on the Glencoe XC Team. Maybe I didn't push myself as hard as I used to, or maybe I know my body better and how to run within myself. My third mile was 6:33, so my pacing was just about perfect- a nice, even split.

Afterwards there was the Gatorade and the congratulations and the sweat and the tired crowds and the euphoria of knowing you pushed your hardest and the relief that it was all over.

Why are my eyes always shut?
It was hot that day, already about 80 degrees.

My Dad, my brother Court, and my nephews Tyler, Keaton, and Alex. 

They had some free food for the runners but there was a huge line so we ended up going across the street to get some breakfast at Gurus (best blueberry pancakes in town). My short shorts got me some funny looks from the waitress, but I didn't have any other pants with me, so she was just gonna have to deal.

My brother had to show me that buzzer-beater from the Blazer game. Amazing.

It's hard to find gluten-free food even at the hippiest restaurant in town.

So cute.

Men, being men.
I wish my mom was in more of these pictures, but as usual she was the one behind the camera getting the shots. Thanks, though, these turned out great.

Afterwards they posted the finishing times, and it turns out I placed 18th out of 287 finishers! Watch out Zephyr Hufflepuff, I'm gonna catch you one of these days.

The whole thing was a blast. Thanks to Mom, Dad, Court, Marissa and the boys for coming out to see me and taking all of the pictures. In a way this race was both an end and a beginning. It was the end of trying to be a runner, of getting strong and working through injuries and figuring out my form. And it is the beginning of running every day, of training hard and racing often. It took me ten years but I finally made it back.

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