At the last minute, I noticed (while desperately searching for race day information beyond an address and date) there was also a 5k relay with three-person teams. Well, considering I knew two other people running the 5k this was an easy choice. We would all run the 5k, and then turn around and run the relay 45 minutes later. My fellow runners were mixtures of enthusiastic about this prospect, but finally it was two against one and the third acquiesced.
I actually did some preparing for this race and hit some decent paces and mileage - as in my marathon pace for like 5 miles. So maybe that's not what you would call "decent" or even "respectable" but it's a massive improvement from not doing a damn thing.
Fast forward to race day. Nothing at all interesting about pre-race. The basic bib-pick up with the additional "baton pick-up" which was novel. The registration was kind of a mess, but after talking to enough people I was able to find the table with no sign that held my bibs and the baton. I wanted to do a warm-up mile but I only got in about .3 miles because there really wasn't anywhere to go. My first mile is always very slow, so I wanted to get that out of the way. Didn't happen.
I was a little nervous about the race because I wanted to do well. I had a goal of 27 minutes and though in retrospect I should not have had that goal, I just can't seem to not be competitive, at least with myself. My fastest 5k time (running on my own) was 24:40, so 27 minutes was by no means lofty.
We got called to line up and there were maybe 100 runners? Tiny crowd, but I think this was the inaugural event and maybe they didn't market it too widely. Annoyingly, after we lined up there was a lot of talking by maybe the race director? Maybe someone else. Then they also did the national anthem and some more talking. This would have been much more appropriate to do before having all the runners line up.
FINALLY I think a horn sounded and we were off. I wanted to run fast. I really did. I don't know anything about pacing myself for this short of a race, I thought that it was kind of like a sprint. Well, compared to a marathon, this my be considered a sprint, but 3 miles is never, ever a sprint. No one can sprint for three miles, or I am pretty sure that goes against the definition.
The course was three loops, and I use the term "loop" reluctantly. It was basically an "L" shaped course roped off in the middle to create an out lane and a back lane. I guess scenery isn't that important for a 5k, but I think they could have done better than using only the one street in front of the park.
Doesn't matter, I wasn't thinking about that. I couldn't stop thinking about my chest pain. Which was a mixture of caffeine, nerves, and general anxiety. In a longer race, your nerves wear off once you settle into your pace and burn off some energy, and then typically they pick back up again when you get close to the finish. But in a short race, basically that's all you have is the start and finish.
My first loop came in at 8:10 pace. The course was a little long I realized, which was bad for my pacing strategy (really, a lack thereof). I would have to continue sprinting for longer than I had anticipated.
Lap two was slower, but not by much. I went out too fast I knew.
Lap three was a little slower. I definitely started too fast, but it was too late to make any changes. I just had to keep it up. My kept checking my pace. And it kept dropping. 8:17... 8:20... 8:23... 8:30... 8:30?! Oh hell no. So I sped up as much as possible, which was not much. Finally my Garmin hit 3 miles, and I was very much a quarter mile from the finish. But everyone runs the same course, so it really didn't make much of a difference. I flew past some walkers on their second (maybe first?!) loop to try to get to the finish line ASAP. I came up on a male runner and passed him, then he tried to pass me and I said "no way, buddy!" (silently to myself I said it). And then I took it home in one last push that made me hurt bad.
And here's what all that got me:
We walked all over looking for him. Everyone was lining up. We thought we were going to have to forfeit. Then, finally at the last minute he comes running up. He had in fact heard that blue bibs would go first, and so he had been on his way after all.
Blue bibs lined up, my other team member and I switched bibs because I didn't want to have to anchor us, and then blue bibs were off.
It was a lot of fun cheering on our relay team member! And when he finished his loop in third place, it was very exciting. Except, I was next ... and someone immediately passed me.
But I held on, and I ran like hell and it was really hard. My ankle started to get sore, but it wasn't much further
I ran a pretty awesome mile, considering. And I didn't give up another place.
I handed off the baton to our third runner and I kind of wanted to die for a minute, but it subsided. I don't usually do all-out efforts, but maybe I should start. I am sure they are good for you!
We didn't lose another place and our last runner finished strong. We were fourth overall, so no awards... or so we thought.
Side note: Do you LOVE this photo of my HANDS?!?!?
Back to the story. We stuck around for awards because I thought I was getting an age-group award since I was technically third in my age group. Except, they changed the age group to 18-35... so no award for me. The other age group was 35+... sheesh. But my co-worker got an age group award, and then we actually thought we might get a relay medal since some of the results looked like they didn't have a time. By the way, we waited like an hour after the last race for awards. Definitely something that needs to be addressed at the next event.
They announced the relay awards and we were not in the top three. But then... "In the VIP Relay category"... what?!? Hell yeah! We might win something after all. Third place... second place... and then "the first place goes to...." and it was us! By a technicality and a stroke of genius on my part, we were officially 5k relay gold medalists.
The rest is history. And I have three medals from this event that all look the same.