Race: Oktoberfest Run Green 8K
City: Raleigh, NC Date: 10/20/2012
Distance: 8k/4.97 mi
Weather: Sunny, warmer than I expected, but not at all oppressive or humid
Course: rolling hills through downtown Raleigh, and because either I didn’t check it before hand or it wasn’t posted, a surprise in the route.
Summary: I ran the fastest mile I have ever run in my life in the first mile….
This was the first year for this race, and it was hosted (put on… sponsored by…) the bar that hosts a run club I like to attend: Tir Na Nog. I know what you’re thinking: why does a bar host a run club? I thought the same thing, but damn if it isn’t the biggest one in the area. They have had as many as 600 run at once – that is more than the number of people that finished this race by almost a 1/3. The crazy thing is: they only meet once a week. That one run, however, has people all over downtown Raleigh, running together. There are four routes: a 3 mile with a 5 mile option and a 4 mile with a 6 mile option.
Until now, they only hosted one race: a St. Patrick’s day 8k – which makes sense: it *is* an Irish Pub. However, I’ve often been puzzled by the fact that this so insanely popular and huge group never hosted more races and/or runs. So, I was actually pretty happy to hear about this race and planned on signing up for it. Besides… I needed another 8k. It is such a weird distance – and there aren’t that many of them, so any opportunity I get to do one, I think I’m going to take. It achieves my goal of the “longer” races and doesn’t drag down the average for the year the way a 5k would (yes… I am that much of a nerd that I thought about that). Throughout the promotion of this race – which started in the early summer months – the run club kept saying “you’ll be making history” – yeah, I thought, *finally* Raleigh has caught up with the rest of the country in their appetite for an Oktoberfest race and yet one more reason to drink beer after running. I’m stunned there hasn’t been an Oktoberfest run in this area before now – not even a 5k.
One of the two 8k races I have done the Tir Na Nog St. Patrick’s Day 8k Run Green race – hosted by the same folks – so I knew what to expect.
I expected a lot of costumes. I got that. I expected heavy promotion of the club. I got that. I expected a lot of people to drink beer. I got that.
But… I got a few surprises, too, most notably from myself… but more on that a little later.
I must admit, I had forgotten about this race until two weeks before it. I have not done a race since the San Fransisco First Half in July, so I’m a little rusty on my race preparedness strategy. The only dates I really have committed to memory are the City of Oaks 10k that I want to PR and the Annapolis Half which brings me to 9 states, 4 in just this year. I remember considering a few races for the following weekend, but they were too close to the 10k and posed a threat to my coveted PR (we shall see how that turns out). But, I got an email reminding me about packet pickup and thought “oh… yeah… I forgot about that”. I quickly checked to ensure it did not conflict with soccer (it didn’t) and I decided to have a fun race.
Until… I missed a whole bunch of runs. I mean a bunch. Crunch time at work again has sucked all of my energy and time out of me and I couldn’t even find an hour a day to steal away as my own. I even missed eating and going to the bathroom some days, so running was pretty much out of the question… which meant I was reaaalllly annoyed… and reaaaaallly pissy. I do not handle it well when I can’t take at least three days out of the week to run. The week of this race, I got one other run in – one. Factor in the work stress and I was not a lot of fun to be around the Thursday and Friday before this race.
I had planned to pick up my race packet at Tir Na Nog on the Friday before the race. The race didn’t start until 3 on Saturday, but I thought that would be the perfect way to get me out of the office and home at a reasonable hour. No such luck. I ended up staying at the office until about 8 PM and was exhausted. I came home and ate my usual pre-race dinner and went straight to bed.
I got up early for my older son’s soccer game, made ONE cup of coffee, ate a couple of hard boiled eggs and took the boys to the first game – came home for lunch, then on to the second game… then dropped them off with their dad and drove like a maniac to the site of the race. Once I finally got a parking space, I got my packet – after walking all the way around the park to get to what I thought was the entrance, only to find out it was also blocked off and ended up walking in a big circle around the start line. I went back to my car to drop off the shirt, pinned my bib and did my last little bit of business. I got a text from a friend of mine wishing me luck, which made my day. I was ready.
We were told to line up – so I scoped out my usual spot: back right corner of the front third. I know I have not earned this spot – I know this. But, I am polite enough to get to the right side so those faster than me can pass me easily. It seemed like a small race, but I still seemed to be closer to the back end of the front third, so I felt OK about my position.
The race started, and, although it was fairly small, I did have to walk a few steps, so I felt even better about my position… that is until I started running. Holy cow. People were off and I was left behind in very short order. It was so disorienting. I swear, it felt like I was walking and everyone else was running. I didn’t even bother looking at my phone to see my pace – I could tell I wasn’t going to like what I saw. I put my earbuds in and got into a new running song favorite by Denuge Fever called One Thousand Tears of a Tarantula – mighty awesome song for what it is worth – and a little over 6 minutes long (I discovered on this run – never paid attention to that before). I can make it up once the crowd thins out, right?
One of the things I like about these apps I have on my phone that tracks my time is the fact that they have the voice overs that come on every 5 minutes so I know my approximate speed. For all my training runs, I typically end up with .56 miles for the first 5 miles and am generally pretty happy with that, but that is approximately an 8:48 average pace, so I was shooting for more like .6 or better at the five minute mark. I was dreading hearing the five minute time… I fully expected to hear “point five six miles” at that point. To my surprise, though, I heard “point six seven miles”. I actually said “what?!?” out loud because I had a hard time believing it. I was starting to feel sluggish though, and this was only the first mile, so I tried to reign it in just a little to save some energy.
The second mile was tough, but I was still on the high from the first mile and I finally heard my overall pace: 7:30 per mile. What the what? I have never even done a 400m interval at that pace, let a lone a whole mile… and truthfully, I was feeling it. I knew that if I had any hope of finishing this race without walking, I had to slow down, so I did.
Second mile, I ran what felt like a crawl. I guess compared to the fastest pace I’ve ever held for a full mile, it kind of was: 8:06. I still felt like I was dragging, though, so I consciously thought that I needed to slow down even more. Third mile: 8:19. I was feeling pretty rough at this part. I remember thinking: just two more miles… no, no…. less than that… what is two minus .97 – dang… what is that? …1.03? Is that right? That can’t be right. That’s not right… Wait… no… it is…
This went on for quite some time… by the time I figured out how far I had left, I had less than a mile – which is why mile 4 is 8:13. I spent almost a whole mile trying to subtract 3 from 4.97. (sigh)
The last mile pretty much did me in, though – you can tell from the last split at a whopping 8:29. I lost steam very quickly and actually thought about stopping several times. I never did, but I got to points where I thought maybe I should have. I was being passed right and left and was pretty unhappy about it. I rounded the corner and saw the finish. I saw a few others around me push to the end so I tried to do the same and didn’t have anything left in the tank after. I started gagging and looked up only to see a camera in my face.
I crossed the finish line, put my hands over my head and tried to bring my heart rate down. I then drank the rest of my drink and walked around until I could cool off.
This is my slowest 8k, as sad as it is to say that, but the range between this one and my PR is only 14 seconds. I can do the math now because I’m not in the middle of a run. The biggest thing I’ve learned from this run is that I’m probably not pushing myself as hard as I should… that maybe I’ve been giving up too easily on some of these intervals and tempo runs. If I want a PR – and I have said that I do – the 7:25-ish pace is what I should be doing on them. Now that I’ve done it for a full mile, I kind of don’t have a good excuse, do I?
back to the drawing board…