Anyway...moving on to today...
I FINALLY officially joined the Birmingham Track Club and noticed that the Trak Shak was having a "St Patty's Day 5K" this morning in Homewood and thought it sounded like a nice way to kick off a Saturday morning. Plus, I love a themed race and though I am pretty conservative in my daily life, love dressing up in my "running life". While driving to Bunco this week, I managed to talk Amy into joining me and was now committed!
Before I get into "reviewing" I want to say that I had a GREAT time but in all fairness, if I was not having a great week mood-wise, all the "little things" might have soured my opinion a bit.
Early packet pick-up was held Friday from 11-5 at the Trak Shak's Homewood location. I told Amy that I would go down and register for us since I was going to be out for a work meeting anyway and also so that we didn't have to go early (and pay more) for day-of registration. I printed the reg. form off the website in advance and made it to Homewood just shy of 1:00 pm. The form they had (and still have) online stated that reg. was $15 in advance, $20 on race day and so when I asked who to make the check out to the guy told me and (for some reason) I said, "that's $30, right?". He looked confused and I pointed to the form and he asked where I had gotten that from. He then proceeded to show me a new form and tell me that the race was $20 in advance, $25 race day but he "guessed" that he could honor the price since I had "somehow" printed it out. I didn't want to be a total ass and I figured the $$ was going to go to charity anyway, so I insisted that I pay the new prices. I'm not going to throw a fit for $5, obviously, but that's the form that was online! THEN, he told me that the t-shirts had still not arrived but should be in after another hour or so and that I would need to come back if I really wanted one. He said I could try to get one on race day by standing in the registration line but they would probably have run out by then. WHAT? I'm certainly not hard up for another race tee but the whole t-shirt thing was basically asking for a logistical nightmare (how would you keep track of who had received one..and they were not even ready til 1/2way through packet pick up? Poor planning!) I ended up going back after I left work at 4:30 (I work 5-10 min away and it's on my way home so no biggie) and picked up our (cotton) shirts.
This morning, Amy picked me up at 7:45 for the 8:30 to start and we found street parking easily just after 8:00. It was already warm (upper 60s/low 70s) and sunny and I probably should have hydrated a little bit better before the run. (I had grabbed a half-full bottle of water out of my car right before we left my house that I ended up nursing before and during the run)
Excuse my glowing white fat!
We stood around enjoying the people/costume-watching and listening to the DJ. Glad that we opted to pick up our stuff in advance as the day-of line was LONG. I completely forgot my Garmin at home so I wasn't really paying attention to the time (I had also left my phone in Amy's car). At 8:30 someone came over the mic and said that the race was going to be delayed by 10 minutes or so while they got all of the race-day registrants imput into the timing system. (As an aside to this: The race was not chip timed. They just tore a little stub off of the bottom of your bib for time, placement, etc. They probably did not need to delay the race start until all of this was finished b/c even your 1st place is not going to come in before 15 minutes and it's not like they were dependent on mat timing at the beginning. Just a thought...)
Around 8:45 we started making our way to the start (with several hundred other runners) and then we were off. We settled nicely into the VERY CROWDED middle of the pack and I told Amy that this was definitely not the race to try and PR! I was not trying to PR anyway...this was about a fun run with a friend...but between the crowds and hills, it would have been disappointing if I was expecting something different. I felt really relaxed and chatty and checked in with Amy on pace a couple of times. Even with the hills we were staying just below 10min/mi and I was really pleased, though starting to get VERY warm as it seemed all sun and no breeze. There were a LOT of runners around and ahead of me taking walk breaks, sighing heavily, bemoaning the heat, etc which I have not really seen in that pace-area of my local 5Ks.
Just shy of 2 miles there was a water stop...but it was on the left side of the road on an out and back part of the course and it would have meant cutting off oncoming runners to get to it. I decided to skip it (though most people did veer off) and kept going. We hit the 2 mile marker just shy of 20 minutes and I thought "for a non-PR attempt this is actually pretty good time!" Amy needed a walk break at some point shortly after this and when I asked her if she was ready to pick it up again, she told me to go ahead...that she was going to walk it in. I asked her if she was sure and she told me to go, so I did. I REALLY REALLY wished I had my watch at this point b/c I have no idea how long that walk break was or any idea of what my "actual running pace" was for the last mile. I was BROILING in the sun at this point and hoping the water stop had gatorade. Nope...just water...so I took a cup and poured the majority down my back and chest on another brief walk break. My legs and breathing felt great but I was so HOT at that point and just wanted to be done. I started running again and passing people left and right. We turned back into the park, across a bridge and through a field (where I passed more people but did not want to go into an out and out sprint b/c I didn't want to look like an ass) and it was done. 32 minutes and some change.
Interestingly enough, this is only 90 seconds or so off my recent PR, so maybe I was off on my "PR assessment" early in the race b/c with 2 walk breaks for undetermined time and feeling pretty relaxed while running, it might have actually been possible (or close). But again, that was NOT my intent today...I wanted a fun run in "costume" and I felt pretty bad about leaving Amy but I also didn't want to walk.
Once in the finisher's chute, they had multiple volunteers telling people to stay in order so they could get placement, etc correct. Just as we got up to the person taking the bib tags, the chick behind me cut in front of me and tried to give the person her tag. WHAT??? I said "Excuse me, I was before her..." The person taking the tag said "Are you sure?" Uhhh...YEAH. I mean, it's just my middle of the pack placement but it is MY placement and we were standing there for a couple of minutes...so really, WTF runner-chick behind me!?
We got a ticket for a free drink from Zoe's Kitchen but I went back to the finisher's area to wait for Amy. After she came in, we went to the Zoe's booth/line and they had run out of drinks! (There were still lots of runners coming in, too) They were selling food and instead were now offering free fruit or pasta salad to runners, so we each got a fruit salad and hit up a water fountain instead. We roamed around for a bit and ended up sitting in the grass listening to music until almost 11:00 enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful, warm day.
Overall, it was a pretty course and a fun morning with my friend celebrating a light-hearted holiday. Logistically things could be improved but everyone (save cut-me-off runner chick) was really friendly and in a good mood so it all evened out in the end!
(On a side note: Does anyone know how to get texted pics off of a Droid phone? I can't seem to save or move any pics that others send me via text and Amy sent me a cute one of us post-race and I can't get it off my phone!)