Maple Leaf 5K Race Recap
|September 9, 2013||Posted by Lauren under Pregnancy, Running|
I just want to take a quick moment to thank all of you who weighed in on my Boston post on Friday/over the weekend. I appreciate every single comment and received great insight from both sides. Speaking of which…I also need to say that I’m so thankful that not all of you agreed with me! I’d always rather hear thoughtful criticism than fake praise. Seriously. I mean…why post something on the internet if you don’t really want to hear what people have to say?
Anyway, I’ve spent a lot of time this weekend going back-and-forth and weighing the pros and cons of signing up. No final decision yet, but I promise to keep you all updated!
On Saturday, Evan and I drove out to Manchester, Vermont to participate in the Maple Leaf 5K. This was the race that I had originally planned to do as my big pregnancy half marathon and I was a little afraid I’d feel a twinge of regret on that starting line. I shouldn’t have worried. Standing there with the runners before the start, I can honestly say that there was no part of me that wished I was running 13.1 miles instead of 3.1. Sure, in the back of my mind I thought about how fun it would be to run a half marathon on that perfect fall-like day…under different circumstances. But at 25 weeks pregnant (and feeling every single one of those weeks), I was happy to be taking the shorter route.
Other things that came out of yesterday’s race?
1.) I still have a little speed left in me — surprisingly, since my average running pace has dropped a lot lately.
2.) I need to figure out how to wear the Gabrialla support belt so that it actually helps and doesn’t cause discomfort by the end of the run. I’ve only run with it twice and don’t love it so far. Because of that, I left it at home on Saturday. A decision I later came to regret.
3.) Racing at 25 weeks pregnant feels way different than racing at 16 weeks (almost 10 weeks of growth is no joke). I didn’t even feel pregnant at all in my last race. The major struggle was simply trying to figure out how much to push and when to pull back. People assured me that it wouldn’t be a conscious decision for much longer — my body would let me know. And on Saturday, it spoke loud and clear.
4.) I am officially in race retirement. I don’t mean that I won’t run races, since there’s a couple more that I’m signed up to do with family before the end of the year. But no more pushing. Pushing on Saturday felt awesome…until it didn’t. And I spent the rest of the day so sore that I decided the only smart thing to do on Sunday was, well, nothing.
Oh…besides bake and eat my first apple pie of the season. I take refueling seriously these days.
5.) It’s pretty clear that even efforts that are moderately difficult are starting to take way too much out of me. I don’t think I’m putting Cheese Baby in any danger (she seems fine), but my body just can’t handle it. Between the round ligament pain and the flaring up of my pelvic/groin discomfort, I think my body is only cut out for easy, minimal jogging from here on out. I am totally fine with that. Sometimes I think pregnancy must feel an awful lot like getting old.
Anyway, let’s talk about the actual race, shall we??
Although the half marathon was clearly the main event on Saturday, the 5K drew a pretty good crowd. Overall, 250 runners and walkers crossed the finish line. This was a chip timed, well-organized affair on a relatively flat course. Combine that with the awesome post-race party that had the best free food I’ve seen in a long time (bagels! sandwiches! Vermont cheese! ice cream!), and I’d say that this race will definitely become a yearly tradition.
Before the race began, my biggest issue was figuring out where to pin the race bib around my expanded belly. I know I put those fake bibs on every week, but those are for a picture – I wear them for 2 minutes before taking them off. It’s hard to figure out the most comfortable position for a big square of paper around a hard round basketball when you know you’ll be running for close to a half hour.
For the first time ever in a race, I sent Evan up to the front and kept myself back — both because I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way and because I didn’t want the start to pull me into a faster pace than I could handle. Spoiler alert: this also happened to be the first race where he completely kicked my butt. I told him he better enjoy his position as the fastest family member while it lasts.
Evan’s game face. So intimidating
Not surprisingly, when the race started I surged anyway. And I felt amazing! Fluid, almost. By far the best I’ve felt at the beginning of a run in weeks. My goal before the race was to keep my pace under 9:00, but I found myself easily running sub-8:00…even after consciously pulling back and reigning myself in.
The first mile ticked off at 7:42 and I still felt great, so I told myself to keep that pace for the next mile and then reassess. We hit an uphill section in mile 2, but it was gradual enough not to slow me down too much. I kept pushing forward, making sure my breathing was under control and that the effort never went above moderately difficult. I wasn’t taking it easy, but I wasn’t pushing myself to exhaustion either. I started to feel really awesome. Almost invincible. Why didn’t I do these 5Ks more often?
A beautiful day for a Vermont race
And then we got to mile 3 and everything changed. I started feeling some discomfort in my lower abdomen that made me immediately back off the pace. For a moment, I panicked — was I cramping? Was Cheese Baby okay in there?! I didn’t feel like I was pushing that hard, but I also knew that I’d never forgive myself if I did something stupid for the sake of a meaningless 5K.
After a few more strides, it became pretty clear that my pain was round ligament pain, and not some sign that Cheese Baby was in distress. I cursed myself for not wearing the belt, wondering if things would have felt differently if I’d had more support. You know – the last mile of a 5K is supposed to hurt. People don’t get to that point and think…this is so much fun! Most of the time, you know it’s going to be one big sufferfest until the end.
But this was a different sort of suck. I wasn’t racing, I wasn’t trying to PR, and I wasn’t even pushing myself that hard. I was running through the prettiest part of the course — a slight downhill through a park and a wooded trail, and all I could think was “when will this damn thing be over?”
Fortunately after about 3/4 of a mile of wondering whether I was okay with simply taking it easy or if I should stop and walk, the pain eased up. I tried to pick up the pace just a tiny bit, excited to be done. But when we hit the 3rd mile mark, I realized there was still a long way to go. Now — I’m not one to say, “my Garmin clocked 3.26 miles, therefore the course was long!!!” Garmins are inaccurate and courses aren’t measured the same way most of us end up running them. But I can tell you at least that the course felt long. My watch was spot on with the mile markers for the first 2 miles and then well over 3.1 by the end.
But I made the most of it. Knowing I had just a little bit left until I was done was the motivation I needed for one last surge. There was a girl about my age right in front of me, and I set my eyes on her back, determined to reel her in. I told Cheese Baby, “If this is our last real race together, let’s make the finish a good one!” And we flew…faster than I’ve run in a long time and passing the girl in the process. I’m not going to lie — it felt so good to fly again.
Splits (Garmin): 7:42, 7:57, 7:57, 1:43 (6:31 pace for last 0.26)
Official time: 25:18 (7:55 pace)
Obviously I was a little surprised to see how consistent my pace ended up being — especially since I felt like I was really holding back in the 3rd mile. But, mile 2 was uphill and mile 3 was down, so it’s all about effort (and perspective).
Meanwhile, Evan did amazing. He took off right at the start and I didn’t seem him again until I crossed the finish. He ran a new PR, coming in 4th overall and 1st in his age group. You might think I’d be frustrated that he’s getting faster as I get slower but truthfully — I’ve never been more proud. He’s been training hard to run a half marathon this fall (his first!) and it’s been so fun for me to watch him run stronger every week. He’s already scoping out additional 5Ks for a chance to improve his time.
In the end I somehow ended up placing in my age group too. Not my intention, but still totally cool. The results were a little screwy, so even though I passed a girl at the finish and had a faster gun time, we ended up having the same chip time and for whatever reason, she was listed first in the results (maybe because her name came first alphabetically? I don’t know how these things work). And then when they called the awards, they ended up giving me 3rd. First place went to the same woman who won the overall race award (she seemed equally confused about the whole thing).
But that all doesn’t really matter. Regardless of how I finished or where I placed, I’m excited to have another race with Cheese Baby that I can tell her about someday. The medals may or may not be hanging in her room already.
I think they make for some perfect nursery decor.