Thursday, June 12, 2014

Race Report: Brat Fest 5K

I just ran my first 5K EVER - and I think I loved it!

About a month into my Couch to 5K app workouts, I signed up to do a 5K with my cousins and my aunt in June - so I felt I had plenty of time to ramp up to 3.1 miles in that time. Maybe two weeks after that J and I were planning our trip to Wisconsin for the Memorial Day weekend and I discovered that it was Brat Fest and there was a 5K/10K run that we could do... if we wanted! We checked in with my sister-in-law to see if it was something that she'd like to do with us - and we were surprised and happy to hear that not only did she want to do one, our 11-year-old nephew and 13-year-old niece also wanted to run the 5K with us! So the four of us signed up for the 5K and J signed up for the 10K. I briefly debated whether I could sign up for the 10K - but I decided I didn't want to force the distance if I wasn't there yet and hurt myself.

On race day I was nervous. It was my very first race ever - not including a couple of terrible track meets way back in middle school - and I wasn't sure what to expect. Thankfully Brat Fest is pretty small and there weren't a ton of racers and the atmosphere wasn't terribly intimidating. The 10K and 5K took off from the same spot - the 10K just lined up in front of the 5K racers and got a 2 minute head start. So we left J in his pack and headed back to line up in the 5K section. The race organizers encouraged us to line up with other people of similar speed, but there wasn't any signage about who was where - so we just kind of wandered to the middle of the pack and then I placed myself even a little further behind my sister-in-law and niece and nephew because I knew my pace was a little slower and I didn't want to hold them up. I ended up standing between this super sweaty excited guy and a guy (or maybe it was a girl) dressed up in a killer whale costume... which I still don't get. In the two minutes between when the 10K took off and the 5K started, I smelled super strong BO and thought that maybe I was stinking because I was nervous sweaty - but then Super Sweaty Guy pulled is shirt off (rubbing his sweaty arm against mine in the process) and I realized it was him stinking. I almost gagged it was so bad - and when the bell rang for the 5K to start I held back to let him go well ahead of me because I didn't want to run anywhere near him!

I had three goals for myself for this race:
1) Run the entire distance.
2) Not to come in last - I didn't care if I came in second-to-last, I just really didn't want to be dead last.
3) This was my secret goal that I didn't share with anyone until I actually did it - I wanted to finish my race before J finished his. He's a pretty fast runner, so I wasn't sure I would be able to accomplish it.

So when the race started I tried not to focus on anything except not starting out too fast because my number one goal was to run the whole thing and if I took off too fast (like I've read in so many race reports) I knew that I wouldn't be able to keep running. I was surprised that almost right out of the gate I was passing people - including some 10K runners who had started out 2 minutes before us. That made me feel good and gave me hope that I would accomplish my second goal of not coming in last. At about the 1 mile mark I was feeling good - and then a bike came whizzing past in the opposite direction yelling, "Move to the right! Lead runner coming through!" and then the lead 5K runner ran past in the opposite direction. THAT wasn't a great feeling!

I kept at it and was feeling pretty good - it was hotter than I had anticipated and for part of the run we were facing directly into the sun, which I hate, but I knew it wasn't too much further. At the second mile marker I actually caught up to my niece - she had a stitch in her side that was slowing her down. I told her to keep it up and kept going. I was surprised that I was consistently passing people. I was also surprised at how many people were run/walking the course - they would pass me fast and then I'd catch up to them a little later and pass them, and then a few minutes later they'd leapfrog me again.

At about 2.5 miles another bike came whizzing by from behind followed by the lead 10K runner (it was a loop course, so I was glad that at least I was heading in the same direction as him!). I knew I wasn't too far at that point and tried to pick up my pace a little, but the course had a slight uphill (super slight!) at that point and it felt hard. As soon as the finish line was in sight though I kicked it up a notch and gave it my best to finish strong.

It was kind of anti-climatic at that point. I crossed the finish line and a volunteer handed me a banana and a water and then I needed to get out of the way for the other runners. I stopped my app on my phone at that point and saw a time of 32:54 which I was really surprised to see because I don't run a 10:00 min/mi pace... ever! I headed to our meet-up place to find my sister-in-law and nephew who finished a few minutes ahead of me, along with my brother-in-law. I asked if they had seen my niece and she had finished close behind me, so soon we were all waiting near the finish line for J to finish the 10K. That's when I finally admitted my third goal - because I had done it!

About 15 minutes later I saw a guy who looked pretty familiar kicking butt as he rounded the finish line.

Doesn't he look great?

After we all finished we headed over to Brat Fest to take advantage of our free brat and beer coupons!!! It was only 10:30 or so, but we weren't NOT going to use them! I ended up getting a strawberry milk instead of a beer - but my brat was amazing.

After Brat Fest we headed to the famous Madison Farmer's Market. I had never been to it because every time we're in Madison it is usually for the holidays and it's not open in the winter, so I was excited to see it. It was SO crowded though - and really sunny and I felt a little wiped out. We came for jerky and cheese curds, but all of the cheese curds were sold out! Major bummer - but still a really cool experience!

As we were walking the race results went up, so I checked them on my phone. My sister-in-law and the kids did AMAZING! Each of them somehow managed to take 11th place in their age/gender groups!! J also kicked butt - he took 6th in his age group and did 8:29 min/miles. I was SO impressed!

As for me - I did WAY better than I ever thought I would! My official time was 31:32.7 with a pace of 10:12 min/miles!

I came in 48th out of 137 in my age group and 237 out of 530 overall! So not only was I not last - I was in the top half of all of the people who ran the 5K! AND I even managed to complete my 5K in a faster time than the guy who won the 10K (even though he passed me - I still haven't worked that out in my head)! I didn't beat him by much - but all that matters it that I did it! Now given, this is Wisconsin where everyone survives on beer and brats through the winter, so the results may have been a little different somewhere else - but I'll take it. :)