Monday, May 13, 2013

5/3 River Bank Run 25K #53rbr #racereport

This past Saturday I ran a little race around these parts known as the 5/3 River Bank Run 25k.  This 25k is the largest 25k in the country (and I believe the national championship).  The day also includes a 10k run, 5k run, 5k walk and junior events, with participants totaling over 21,000 people.  Needless to say, it's a pretty big party for the running community and city of Grand Rapids.

Leading up to the event, I was feeling unusually relaxed.  I'd had other stuff stressing me out but not the race.  Maybe this was because I was planning to just use the race as a training run for the Bayshore Half coming up in 2 weeks.  In any case, I wasn't stressing too much unless you count stressing a little about the weather.  Friday at lunch time, I scooted downtown to pick up my packet.  I spent more time trying to find parking than I did in the actual expo.  It's a really good expo if you have time to walk around. Lots of vendors, other races you can register for, etc.  Basically I just ran in, grabbed my packet, and ran back out.

My daughter had a track meet Friday night, so I got to hang out in the rain and cold while she competed.  Once her events were done, I headed home and had a nice dinner of Subway, a bag of chips and a beer.  I figured it worked for Martian so why not try the same meal again for River Bank ;)  I set up Flat Bari and then hit the hay around 9:30 pm.

My alarm went off at the ungodly hour of 5:40 am - but as per usual, I was already awake.  I don't know why I bother setting multiple alarms for races because I never sleep the night before anyway.  I debated a long time about whether to carry my fuel belt and at the last minute, left it on the counter at home.  There were aide stations every 1.5 miles on the course so I figured I'd be fine.  My school district has a corporate team every year and I was a member of the team, so I got to wait in the VIP/team area before the race.  I'm not fast enough for my time to count towards our team's score, but I join the team specifically for the private bathrooms with no line and a warm/dry place to wait.  I did a little warm-up in the room and then met up with Mindy.  I also got to see Megan for a few minutes before the race as well.

I'll be buying another Altheta Relay Skort - so comfy and NO chaffing!
Mindy and I lined up together at around the 10:30 pace sign.  (There are pace teams for this event, but the closest times were 10:00 min/mile and 11:00 min/mile - we were both shooting for a 10:30 average so we decided to run together as long as we could and use my Garmin for pacing.) The plan was to run the entire race but walk through the aide stations for water.  I figured the short walk breaks would help keep my pace under control and force me to drink since I wasn't carrying water.  (For the record - I took 2 shot blocks every 3 miles for fuel and just water for hydration.)

I pretty much split this race into thirds in my head, so that's how I'm going to report it.

Miles 1-5 - We start heading out of downtown and into the Kent Trails system.  The number of people running is just crazy for such a small area and Mindy and I spent a lot of the first 5 miles weaving in and out of the crowds.  I wasn't feeling great in the first miles - my foot and ankle were hurting pretty much from the start and I didn't think I'd be able to maintain my goal pace.  This section is really flat but Indian Mounds Drive is cambered with rumble strips down the center.  It was hard to find an even section to run on. Splits: 10:11 - 10:23 - 10:21 - 10:28 - 10:38  

Miles 6-10 - Right around mile 6 was the cheer station staffed by Grandville Public Schools cheerleaders and football players.  I got a hug from Julie, the cheer coach who is also the preschool teacher at my school, and lots of high-fives from former students.  This gave me a nice boost and a smile.  We headed across the river and past Johnson Park.  I had friends spectating there but never saw them.  Around mile 7, Mindy and I parted ways.  I was feeling really strong and comfortable.  This is an area that I've done many training runs on and I wasn't worried about the hills coming up on Butterworth. The biggest climb starts around mile 9.5 and the hills continue through around mile 12.  Splits: 10:32 - 10:25 - 10:32 - 10:21 - 10:44

Miles 11-15.5 - The biggest section of hills (rollers really) started around mile 10.  Just before the mile 11 marker, Zac Brown Band's "Quiet Your Mind" came on.  The timing couldn't have been more perfect.  "Quiet your mind, soak it all in" was exactly what I was trying to do through this area.  I'd done many long runs on this section of Butterworth and I knew those rollers like the back of my hand.  I don't think I've ever felt so strong or run with more smiles than I did during this portion of the race.  After the several miles of hills, we headed back into downtown, which was very flat again.  I remembered running this race 2 years ago and hitting the zoo at mile 13.1 and knowing I was setting a distance PR.  I set another distance PR at this point on Saturday - the farthest I'd run since getting injured and the farthest I'd run since my full marathon back in October 2011.  In the zoo section, I heard one of my running buddies yell my name.  I had no idea she'd be there and didn't see her at first.  This made me smile again.  I was starting to feel tired but kept telling myself "you can run 2 more miles - you've done this hundreds of times."  When I crossed the bridge on Fulton there were a ton of funny signs.  "Smile if you aren't wearing any underwear." "Run now, beer later."  "Keep running, your beer misses you!" I could hear the finish line area and with 1/2 a mile to go, I really kicked it in.  It's a bit cruel that this race finishes on an uphill, but there you go.  My last 1.5 miles were my fastest miles of the entire race.  Splits: 10:16 - 10:24 - 10:25 - 10:20 - 9:58 - 5:42 (9:18 pace).  
data from my Garmin
Sweet victory!  I had finished my 2nd 5/3 River Bank Run 25k just as strong as when I started running.  I'd even managed to set a sweet new PR - by about 11 minutes :)  I made it through the finishers area and got some water and chocolate Muscle Milk. My hands were so cold that I had to ask a random stranger to open them for me because I couldn't work my fingers.

I set out intending this to be a training run, but as a friend said later, I was weak - I let the thrill of racing get the better of me :) I've discovered that I can't NOT race in a race environment.  I care about my time and I was definitely finding targets and picking people off.  The chick with a flower in her hair - roadkill.  The dude in a tutu with a sign on his back that said "Never lose a bet against your better half" - roadkill.  I stopped counting at 15 people passed in the last mile.  But am I upset with myself for racing this training run? Hellz. No.  I'm extremely proud of myself for running a very smart race.  I think I could've pushed myself much harder than I did but I would've ended up much worse for wear.  Instead, I'm left with some muscle soreness and a sore foot, but nothing that I'd consider an "injury" at this point.  The next few days will be devoted to recovery.  I started my recovery right after the race with a beer and pulled pork sammie.  :)

My initial results had me ranked higher than the final, official results, but I'm ok with that.  Sure, I'd rather be in the upper half, but compared to where I was 2 years ago when I ran this in 2:52:55, today's run was a huge improvement. I ran a very smart race, set an 11:xx minute PR and physically feel much better than I remember feeling a couple years ago. I even managed to run a negative split with all the hills in the 2nd half and passed 300 people in the 2nd half of the race! Very f*cking awesome :)

So, my "training run" turned out to be a nice race with a PR and bling.  Not too shabby for a morning's work. I'd set 4 goals for myself in Friday's blog post:

  • Finish with a smile on my face - CHECK ( I really can't wait to see the race photos)
  • Finish without any injuries - CHECK (I think - jury is still out on the foot)
  • Be proud of how far I've come this year - MEGA CHECK
And if I'm feeling really good....
  • Finish in under 2:52:55 - CHECK!!
My "unwritten" time goal was to finish under 2:45:xx - I'd managed to hit that goal as well!

Did you race this weekend?  How did it go?

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