Happy New Year!! Hope 2013 is off to a good start for everyone. Last Saturday, I ran my last race of 2012: the Brazen New Year’s Eve 5K. Sadly, they have yet to post any photos of the 5K runners and I didn’t bring my iPhone to the race, so this recap will be a nearly photo-less entry. I think you’ll be able to survive somehow.
Why I wanted to run this race / Goals:
I ran the Brazen Bad Bass 5K at Lake Chabot in July 2011, my first race in Five Fingers. At the time, I was running ~5-12 miles a week, if at all. Basically, I wasn’t in great shape. The stats from that race were:
Time: 33:23 (10:46/mile based on 3.1 miles); 6/24 AG.
Here’s a photo from that race:
I was really interested to see how much faster I could run the same course, so my main goal was simply to beat my time from Bad Bass. I didn’t really have a set pace in mind — I just wanted to have a good run and push myself hard, but not too hard so as to hurt myself.
Pre-race: Maybe it was because I was in a post-marathon slacker mood, or maybe it was because I kept thinking “it’s just a 5K,” but I didn’t try that hard in the week before the race in terms of diet, planning my workouts, thinking about what I would wear, etc. Case in point: my pre-race dinner consisted of 2 beers and a greasy club sandwich from a drive-in. I know, not the smartest thing, especially given my personal history with GI issues. Luckily, my choices did not come back to haunt me on race day. Whew!
The Gypsy Runner was originally going to volunteer at the race, but ended up helping his sister move. So, I dropped him off bright and early and headed out to Lake Chabot Marina by myself. It was a chilly morning (low 40’s), so I was glad that they had a sweat drop. As usual, Brazen’s organizational skills were superb. I got my bib in about 2 minutes, which left me with roughly 50 minutes to kill. I went through my warm-up cycle and jogged for a 1/2 mile, went to the bathroom twice just for the hell of it, and watched the half marathon and 10K races start.
Finally, it was time to line up! I decided to get in the front of the pack, even though I knew I’d get passed by a lot of people. The course starts on a narrow path (about 4-5 people wide), and this particular race seems to draw a lot of walkers and recreational joggers who I did not want to get stuck behind or have to run around. (I don’t mean to sound like a snob… just saying that a lot of people were not out there to “race.”) I looked around and saw Debbie, a friend from Dailymile (and mutual friend of Laura). I went up to her and we formally introduced ourselves. It was great to finally meet her in person! We chit-chatted until the start of the race, when Debbie took off with the lead pack while I settled into my own pace. I tried not to look at my Garmin and just went with my effort level. My somewhat nebulous strategy was to maintain an even pace at ~85% effort level and kick it up a notch at the very end.
I got passed by a lot of people in the first 5 minutes or so, but I resisted the urge to pick up the pace in order to keep up with them. I had to trust that my strategy of even pacing would work out for me in the end. The first mile felt really good, but things started to get noticeably more difficult towards the end of mile 2. My breathing was definitely more labored and different areas of my body took turns feeling tight or tired. I managed to hold my pace and overtake a few people who had passed me at the beginning, including 2 little boys, who were about 5 and 7 years old. I have to say that they were tough little competitors!
At about 2.5 miles, I started playing the “how much longer I have to run?” game. I was putting out a decent effort (i.e., enough to want the thing to be over), but at the same time, I was never at the “I’m about to puke” stage at any point of the race. Before I knew it, I was at the small wooden bridge at the end of the race. I delicately crossed that, knowing that it might be slippery. The bridge turned out to be fine — the first timing mat ended up being the thing that I almost slipped on! Luckily, I kept my balance and finished the race without any falls. Yay for small victories!
I crossed the finish line in 29:29. Originally, I thought my Bad Bass time was 31:xx, so I was a bit disappointed in my time. When I got home and realized that my previous time was 33:23, I was much happier. Almost 4 minutes faster! I was also very happy at how far I’ve come in terms of racing and pacing strategies. I used to just go out and run races willy-nilly and always hated the last 10 minutes of the race because I had inevitably used up all the gas and was running on fumes. So, it’s nice to have more experience now and be a little bit smarter about things. The one tiny regret I have is that I still had quite a bit of gas in the tank at the end of the race — more than I should’ve. It makes me think that I could’ve pushed myself at least a little bit harder… but to be honest, I wasn’t in the mood on race day to really suffer. Sometimes I’m up for that kind of pain and other times I don’t think it’s worth it. I think I knew in the back of my mind that a course record was in the bag, and it was just a matter of how much. I didn’t have the desire to run my 100% best race, and that’s OK with me.
So, I crossed the finish line, got my medal, and met up with Debbie, who came in at a speedy 26:xx! She came in 2nd in our age group and 8th woman overall, which is awesome. We chatted some more as I stuffed my face with food and cocoa-coffee — another indication that I did not exert as much effort as I could’ve. We waited for the results and then went our separate ways. It was a great way to end the racing year!
About the race:
- Organizers: Brazen Racing
- Cost: $30 (I opted out of a cotton tee and saved $5)
- Course: ~3.2 miles with ~165′ elevation gain on paved asphalt. My Garmin’s elevation function has been kind screwy lately and gave me ~30′ elevation gain, which is definitely incorrect — there are rolling hills the whole way. The turnaround is quite sharp and slowed me down a little bit because I was stuck behind 2 people.
- Parking: $5 at the Marina, or free street parking outside the park on Lake Chabot Road.
- Aid stations: One at the 5K turn-around. I think there was water and electrolyte drink.
- Bathrooms: Flush toilets at the Marina were supplemented with ~10 porta potties. On the trail, there are wooden outhouses stationed about half-mile apart.
- Swag: T-shirt, which I opted out of, and a well-designed medal. Those who run both the NYE and the New Year’s Day race get a cool connector piece.
Official time: 29:29 (9:30/mile based on 3.1 miles)
Garmin stats: 29:29 for 3.23 miles; 9:08/mile
Mile splits: 9:02, 9:26, 9:12, 7:53
Woohoo!! Nice job, great start for 2013!
Outstanding! One day I want to run a Brazen race…everyone says great things about them. So…when are we running together? 😉
Soon, soon! I’m out of town for a couple of weeks, but when I get back, we shall run together!!!
I want to do a Brazen race too! I’ve heard so many good things. Congrats on a great race, was that a NY PR for you? Hurrah.
Thanks, Cathryn! Unfortunately, it was technically a 2012 course record, so no 2013 PR yet. 🙂
Congrats! Nice way to start the year.
Yeah! 4 minutes off the previous is huge! 5k’s are nuts, they are the only race I attempt to kill myself in…the other ones I try to get into cruise control but 5k’s I just try and hold on. You are getting faster which is really evident considering you took 4 minutes off and felt like you had something in the tank. Congrats on a great start to 2013!
Thanks Dominick! Yeah, 5K’s are definitely a whole different animal from other races.
Well done Jen, and what a great way to cap off the year! It is good to know you had more left in the tank for next time too.
It is hard to know where to line up at the start isn’t it?! These days I usually line up about 1/3 of the way back as that is my approximate finishing position, but even then you can get stuck behind non-racers. I get really disillusioned when lots of people overtake me at the start, but it helps to think that I (hopefully) will overtake them again in the last third of the race!
Exactly! That was my strategy too. I also try to survey the crowd and try to predict where I might finish. For instance, when I ran at the East Bay Triple Crown this year (a very tough field), I knew I had no chance of even finishing in the top half (and usually came in in the bottom third), so I lined up near the back. The Brazen races usually draw a mixed crowd, and I’ve been able to place in my age group, so lining up towards the front isn’t a huge stretch.
Congratulations on your time AND not suffering after your amazing sounding pre-race dinner! And once I stopped “wanting to suffer” during 5-K’s, I found that I actually enjoyed them more. Glad you didn’t get beat by the two little boys. That drives me nuts!
I know! I kept thinking, “I can’t let a 5 year old beat me!!” They were really hard to run around because they kept swerving — I think I spent a minute trying to get around the first boy. I bet that they run more like 3.5 miles — they are definitely NOT running tangents!!