My second race for 2012 was the Celebration of the Lakes 5k on Saturday, January 28th. This race was important to me because it was the one year anniversary of my first race! I was hoping it would be the same course as last year so I would have a better comparison in regards to my improvement over the year, but the festivities were moved from the lake to a park on the other side of town due to poor ice conditions. The warm winter we’ve been having has made the ice on most of the metro area lakes unpredictable at best.
The morning was a brisk one at 23 degrees and cold wind gusts. Of course, these conditions are minor for a Minnesota winter but still nippy. My race gear included my leopard print long johns, black fitness pants, a long sleeve long underwear shirt, pink running jacket, pink running hat and gloves. Standing around before the race was cold, but about three minutes into the race I was warm and about half way through, I shed the gloves. The hat came off right after I crossed the finish line.
This race was fairly small, with about 100 people. We started at the bottom of the hill that leads into the park and ran the residential roads in the area. The course had little for support (no cheering sections) and no water stop; very bare bones. Even though the course was through a residential area, it’s surrounded by lake, so it was scenic considering.
The course for this race was fairly brutal. There was a thin, icy sheen covering about 80% of the course, I was running in wind gusts about 40% of the race and it felt like 60% of the race was uphill. It was tough, mostly because I was taking smaller strides to protect myself from the possibility of a fall. In some spots, the road was so icy that I ran in the snow along the shoulder because the footing was better. I felt like I was really struggling and since my Polar died last week, I was running without a watch so I had no clue where my heart rate was (not that I watch that very closely anyway) or what my pace was. It was one of those courses where I was cursing the weather and the course almost every step because I felt like I was running really slow.
The last stretch of the race was the hardest with a slow, gradual climb up, followed by a steeper climb into the parking lot of the park. But, hey, I did pass one guy going up the final hill! All things considering, I’m very happy with my time. It’s amazing how seeing the clock at the finish line can defeat you further or lift your spirits. My official finishing time was 33:02, which is my 3rd fastest 5k. Ever since, I’ve been daydreaming about what my time could have been had it not been for the ice.
Last year, my time for the Celebration of the Lakes 5k was 40:09. I think shaving 7:07 off of my 5k race time in a year is pretty respectable. The time difference between my slowest (first) and fastest 5k times is 8:06. I’m thinking it may actually be possible to hit a sub-30 5k in 2012!
On my one year anniversary of becoming a running, I did a lot of reflecting on what I’ve learned about myself and how far I’ve come. I’m not going to lie. I cried on the way home from the race, just as I cried at the finish line last year, though for different reasons.
Here’s to one year, 18 races, 210 miles and numerous life lessons!