Oh, 5K. How I loathe thee.
I ran the Ravenswood Run for the third time on Sunday, and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure why I continue to put myself through this. Maybe for the same reason that I put myself through the marathon – I can’t imagine not running the race, so I choose to run the race, knowing full well that it’s going to hurt and be one long mental battle. I even have a tendency to say this is one of my favorite races, which is even more absurd, since I enjoy very little about it, except for it being over. I guess you could say Ravenswood and I have a complicated relationship.
Regardless, because I enjoy torturing myself, I signed up once again for Ravenswood. I picked up my bare-bones packet at Fleet Feet on Southport, as that is now the most CTA friendly running store in the city (and also, I would argue, the smallest running store in the city. It made Universal Sole look enormous, which is really saying something.)
Just a shirt and a mini Clif Bar this year, which is a-ok with me. Do not be fooled: there is no Clif Bar inside that wrapper. I was STARVING on Friday afternoon when I picked up my packet, and that Clif Bar was gone before I got back on the Brown Line. Actually, they did include a nice sheet full of course information, which I really appreciated.
As always, I had thoughts of PRing at Ravenswood, but I knew that was a bit of a stretch given my whole lack-of-speed-training thing this year. I ran two 5Ks last December in the low 25:00s with very little training at all, so I figured a 25:xx would be a more attainable goal. If nothing else, this would be my first 5K of 2015, so I’d at least get an automatic yearly PR 😉
I got to the race site a little late for me–about 30 minutes before the race began–but still had plenty of time to check my gear and do a little bit of a warmup around a couple blocks in the neighborhood. I lined up near the start of the 8:00 pace sign, figuring that was probably a bit ambitious but also knowing that the best way for me to run fast is to surround myself with fast people and that I could most likely manage to hang on to a bit-ambitious pace over the course of 3.1 miles.
The start was CROWDED. Thinking back on it, I’m pretty sure this always happens at Ravenswood, but I nevertheless panicked that it would ruin my chances at…finishing? I don’t know. It’s not like I was actually gunning for a PR. But it was still annoying. Fleet Feet does everything they can to organize this race well, but there’s nothing you can do about people who are all, “LOLYUP, totes gonna line up at the front of the race!” and then proceed to take off at like a 10:00 pace. Which is not to knock people who run a 10:00 pace, but if you’re going to run a 10:00 pace, then gosh darn it, line up by the sign that says 10:00 pace! And if you don’t have any clue at all what you’re going to run, maybe don’t assume you’re going to be fast enough to be at the front of the race! /endrant
My legs felt dead…oh, maybe all of .25 miles into the race. I probably should’ve skipped breakdance on Saturday, or skipped running on Saturday, or both, but whatever. No use having regrets at that point! I chugged along and hit the first mile at 8:01 while trying to come up with positive things to think about other than how much 5Ks hurt, like the fact that I chose to run this race, the fact that the weather was PERFECT, the fact that I only had to maintain this pace for three miles instead of, say, 26.2 (5Ks are always great for crushing my Boston hopes and dreams), etc. But man, that mental game on race day is REAL. Is anyone able to turn their brain off during a race, and if so, can you teach me your ways? I think I’d run faster if I didn’t spend so much energy trying to get my mental game in place.
I split 8:18 for mile two, which was a little bit of a bummer, since it meant I wouldn’t negative split the race. However, it was just about at this point, where my mind finally started believing the lies I was telling it (“This is fun! You’re almost finished!”), and my legs responded in kind. I wasn’t flying like I flew at the end of the Lakefront 10 last week, but I was doing pretty great, and ran a 7:47 third mile. Heeeey! By that point it was too late to PR, but I did have a *little* bit left to give for that last .1, and I finished in 24:50 for my second fastest 5K ever.
True life: I switched from my on-its-last-legs Garmin to a Polar M400 in February when I began this training cycle, and so far, I LOVE it. Granted, my Garmin’s old (2012), and I never really took the time to figure out how to use it as more than a very, very expensive stopwatch, but in my opinion, the M400 is far superior to my Garmin 210, except for one glaring design flaw. The start and stop buttons on the M400 are not one in the same, like they are on every other stopwatch in the history of stopwatches. There’s a red button on the right side that you use to start and lap, but a silver button on the left side that you use to actually stop your timer. I’ve worn this watch for literally every single workout, running or otherwise, I’ve done since February 25, and I STILL mix these buttons up, particularly when I’m not paying attention, like, say, at the end of 5Ks when I had just given it everything I had. FAIL. Thank goodness for chip times!
I stumbled through the finish chute, panting like a dog, and was much dismayed to find an ENORMOUS line to retrieve my checked gear. Once I did finally get my bag, I immediately proceeded to what, realistically, is probably the actual reason I continue to run Ravenswood:
CINNAMON ROLLS ❤
All in all, I’m really happy with how things went at Ravenswood. I did not at all expect to break 25:00, so that in and of itself makes me happy. Add to that the fact that I finished within the top 15 of my age group, thus earning myself even more CARA Runners Choice Circuit points to add to the ones I earned at the Lakefront 10, and I’m one happy camper 🙂 (One happy camper who DOES NOT want to turn 25 in September and graduate to the 25-29 age group, where my 24:50 would’ve earned me a solid…31st place. OUCH.)