Saturday, March 27, 2010

Race Report: Rumpshaker

I really hate to start the post this way and to admit it in blog-land no less, but I didn't meet my goal. Obviously I am disappointed in myself but as I mentioned in a previous post, running is NEVER a guarantee. My IW and tempos/upping the speed had been going well and I ran 3 at pace on Wednesday but it was TOUGH and I could only hope for a flat course today and a good shot of adrenaline to get me through b/c my ass had been truly kicked at the end of that training run.

This is the 2nd year of the Rumpshaker and with over 3,000 participants, it's grown quickly. The organizers actually moved the run to downtown Birmingham this year to accommodate more people; last year it was in one of the suburbs just minutes from downtown. They still have some kinks to work out (parking, start line) but overall was a great event: great goodies, 2 t-shirts(!) race shirt (cotton), 1 New Balance tech shirt courtesy of fleet feet, nice post race party/band/expo. They also had the official race results printed "on demand" and posted on the side of the beer truck (talk about quick turnaround)

After experiencing severely congested traffic trying to get to race area, I met up with Lauren, Amy, Kathryn and her husband, Zach (who was our official gear holder/photographer). We tried to get pre-race photos but my camera seemed to be in paperweight mode :( Luckily Kathryn had hers so hopefully she will send those along soon. It was low 40s at the start and I had really been debating on what to wear. I had my running tights (mid calf) and my lightweight pink Reebok pullover (as seen in Mercedes) but had added a s/s base layer under this. Basically putting me at the same level of clothing that I had used for the half in February. I was really worrying that I might be overdressed but I was under-dressed compared to the group and they convinced I would be happy to have the base to cut the wind (it was incredibly windy this morning). Next time I know I need to go with my first instinct (foreshadowing).

We made our way over to the start, per the announcement and tried to get near the front. A guy in front of me was programming his Garmin so I asked him his expected pace. He said 9:00-9:15 so I mentally took note that if I passed him I was probably in trouble (again, foreshadowing, anyone?)

We stood around and we heard that the race was starting a little bit late due to the parking debacle. I assumed there would be some kind of announcement or countdown to the start since it was a decent sized race but there was NOTHING. All of a sudden people started shuffling ahead! I had already set my iPod and watch to "go" so I took a deep breath and stepped purposefully on the timing mat. To say there was a lot of congestion in the first .25-.3 miles is putting it mildly. I was wildly weaving around people, BLEW past the Garmin guy and I knew I was expending way too much energy for it to be so early. I had a momentary thought "why did I pick this race to achieve a time goal?" Then I looked up. No way around this. "Holy shit" We were getting ready to round a corner to take a monster hill to run on an overpass and would be crossing over the roads/railroad tracks below.

I had assumed that since we were on a downtown course we were going to be taking a pretty flat route. Komen, BE&K and Mercedes have all been downtown and the 1st 2 have been fairly forgiving. Mercedes had its share of hills but that was a little south of downtown and they were more of the rolling variety, not the "I'm climbing the overpass variety".

I kept going and felt my feet going numb as I climbed the hill. Seriously? I was burning up (rolled up my sleeves) and my stomach also started to feel queasy (I don't have issues with this luckily) and I thought "is this for real?" Unfortunately with this hill, what comes up does NOT come down, we got to the top and leveled off. Made it to the 1 mile mark and my watch read 9:34. I knew I wasn't feeling great and tried to ease up the pace. Made it to a water stop shortly thereafter and I was breathing so hard I basically came to a crawl to suck down the hydration. Mile 2 I was closing in on 20 minutes. My body did not feel like I was going to make it. Look up and saw another steep climb probably about .3 in length. Seriously? Then, here it comes...I WALKED. For 15 seconds, but still. Knew my time was going down the drain. I could barely breathe. Made it to the top. Walked again, not sure how long (just picked a tree up ahead to allow me to catch my breath) We had turned at the summit of that last hill and the last .75 was a straightaway and I could see the balloons at the finish line, looking like a mirage. Remember how I said it was windy? While we had not been graced with a tailwind on any part of the course, I faced the last straightaway going straight in to a killer headwind. Not an excuse but I felt like I was having to push extra hard just to move.

Knowing that my time goal had been shot, my goal at this point was just to keep going and to not let my friends pass me (shallow, I know). I actually saw a girl that I had run with for most of Mercedes and she recognized me. She shook her head, also gasping and said she felt like this was harder than the half. I agreed.

I didn't look at my watch when I crossed and I honestly don't remember my ultimate time from looking at the sheet. I do, however, know that my overall pace was 10:24. No, it wasn't my goal, but considering what I experienced above and the fact that I WALKED and got my ass kicked by this 5K, I am pleasantly surprised and pleased. AND my friends said that they had a blast. Kathryn is ready to sign up for another one tomorrow, she kept saying how much fun she had. Amy and Lauren also echoed similar sentiments with the caveat that they need more training. I think they all agreed to Komen in October.

For the record, I never did see Garmin guy again and I looked for him the whole time (he was wearing a distinctive shirt). Also, my sentiments above were echoed by several of the race participants based on the inevitable eavesdropping after the race. I was NOT an easy course for a road race and also (not that this matters) was in an ugly part of an industrial part of downtown and was so reminiscent of the part of Mercedes that I loathed from a mental perspective.

I leave you with one picture from after the race, the only one my camera would cooperate for. Me with Kathryn (left) and Lauren waiting to cross the railroad tracks to head back to the post race party. (We lost Amy and ended up finding her at the party). Look at how seriously short I am!!

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