Jamie and I have done a Turkey Trot every year since 2006, and this year the original plan was to do the Virginia Run Turkey Trot (25 minutes west) 5K. Jamie runs with the kids in the stroller and I get to run solo. We usually do the Alexandria race, which is 5 miles and has an actual jogging stroller division complete with awards, but with my marathon only 10 days out and Jamie's last Sunday, we figured this was a better option. I went to sign up on Monday, and it had sold out -- 5000 participants! Ugh. So I looked online and saw that they had a race right in downtown Vienna, only 5 minutes from my house. How did I not know about this? They also had race day registration, and since my body was still pretty beat up from last Sunday's 15-miles-faster-than-planned followed by a three hour power walk around Philly, I decided to wait and see how I felt this morning.
Alarm went off at 6:30 and I felt great. Jamie, however, had run the Philly marathon with a touch of bronchitis and sounded like he was going to hack up a lung. My iphone informed me that the temperature was 30 degrees. So... a break in tradition. Jamie decided to save $35 and do his 5K on the treadmill later on.
I arrived at the race site at about 7:15 and registered. Then I headed out for a quick one mile warm up. My Garmin said my pace was about a ten minute mile on the way out. I added 3 100 meter strides on the way back. My pace jumped to 6:XX -- hey, not bad! I had no idea what to expect since the last time I actually raced a 5K was in 2006, and I think my time was about 25 minutes, which is more time than it usually takes me to cross the 5K mark on a half marathon nowadays.
I sat in my car until 7:55, then used the port-o-john, and sprinted to the start. The gun sounded and I took off. Within the first third of a mile there was a MONSTER hill. I refused to look at my pace on the way up. There were a few women ahead of me at this point. On the way down, I gave it all I had. I passed a couple of women and was pretty much just running with men at this point. I felt like I was working hard but could keep this pace up for awhile. When I hit the first mile marker, the watch said 6:47.
The second mile headed west on the W&OD Trail. I biked this portion enough during the Ironman training to know this was what is called a "false flat" -- and I was on the decline. Meaning it would be an incline on the way back. At this point, I started seeing the leaders heading back to the start. I only passed one woman. I was in second place.
I hit the turnaround, and soon my watch buzzed that mile two was complete. 6:55. And then it started to hurt. 5Ks always hurt. Mentally knowing I was ascending about 100 feet during this mile made it hurt even more. That finish line felt like it was never going to come. I glanced down at my watch and saw I was having a hard time keeping the pace under 7 -- in fact, sometimes it would be as high as 7:30. I was really tired at this point. My watch buzzed -- mile 3 was 7:17. Blech. BUT I could see the finish line. I booked it and finished the last .1 at a 6:55 pace. Final time was 21:47.
There were a lot of people doing the race, and I figured I could get in another two miles before the awards ceremony. I jogged a mile out and a mile back, then went to check the official results. I couldn't find my name, but I KNEW I'd come in under 22 minutes. So I started to look for my bib number. And then I saw it. Second woman overall: Aietienen Lynch.
Well that is an interesting name. I am not sure how you get that from "Gretchen", even if my handwriting isn't fabulous. I went and talked to the timing folks who corrected it and told me to hang around for the awards ceremony since I came in second overall.
So they then called up all the Age Group finishers -- 3rd, 2nd, and 1st place. I guess because I placed overall, I was not included in the Age Group awards. They handed gift certificates to all of these folks. Then they called the overall winners. And then the awards ceremony was over. Huh? I definitely had a faster time than any of the female age group winners. I went up to ask the announcer and tried to explain to him that I wasn't in the age group awards because I had placed as an overall winner. He totally didn't understand what I was saying. He told me to go talk to "the lady with the red hair." I explained it to her. She said "Oh. So maybe that is why we ended up with these extra prizes?" She handed me the envelope that said "18-29 Woman - 2nd " Yeah, I'm pretty sure that was the wrong envelope. Whatever. I give up. The first time I ever podium, they spell my name wrong - no, not spell it wrong, completely butcher it - forget to call me at the awards, and give me the wrong prize. Of course.
Despite all this I'm still pretty ecstatic. There is no way I could have run a sub-22 5K a year ago. No way in the world.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!