How to Positive Split the Crap Out of a Race

Surprise! I ran a race this past weekend! It was the St. Malachi 5-miler here in Cleveland and it was totally last minute, spur of the moment, totally fun, and totally HILARIOUS. It was a great first race back and I’m so glad I was able to “get some of the rust out” before a race that I actually train for. I had zero expectations, but I did put together a rough pace plan…which I promptly completely ignored as the day’s events unfolded.

Before I regale you with the play-by-play account of the day let’s look at some fun facts:

Fact #1: The longest run I had run post-baby leading up to Saturday’s race was 5 miles. Last weekend. All my other runs have been 2, 3, and a smattering of 4 milers.

Fact #2: I didn’t run at all this past week because after LAST week’s whopping 12.4 weekly mileage my pelvis was sore, the kind of sore that had me googling “osteitis pubis” and “pelvic stress fracture after pregnancy”. Which, by the way, led me to a great post by Camille Herron. I realize it probably wasn’t the smartest decision for me to run a race {and definitely not to run the way I did} but the pain was completely gone by Wednesday so I figured I was golden, right?

Fact #3: I was severely underdressed for the day. That’s what you get when you dress festively and think “35, that sounds plenty warm enough for shorts and a T”. What I didn’t account for was the frigid wind coming off the lake, making “35” feel more like “holy freaking cold”. Also, Cleveland has this special ability to create a headwind that follows you no matter what direction you are running. Running East into a headwind? Don’t worry if you turn North and then West you will STILL BE RUNNING INTO A HEADWIND. It’s fun.

Fact #4: This was my first race post-baby, which means this was the first race I had to worry about also getting baby ready for me to be gone for 2 hours AND still depart on time. Spoiler alert: I was not successful.

Pre Race:

The little one had been waking up around 7am pretty consistently the past week, then going down for a nap around 8, waking at 8:45. Since the race didn’t start till 9:45 I thought this would work out perfect – nurse her when she woke up at 8:45 ish, change diaper, handoff to my inlaws who were in town visiting, leave around 9:15, arrive at my planned easy parking spot at 9:30, have 15 minutes to easy jog the .8 ish miles to the race, be there right in time for a little stretchie and then RUN. I only had a 2-3 hour window to drive in, race, and drive back because she still won’t take a bottle, but for a 5 mile race that’s no biggie, right?

Things started going wrong right from the start…she ended up sleeping until 7:15, which wasn’t the end of the world because I still got her down for her nap around 8. THEN she decided to sleep for an hour. By the time I fed her and changed her and finished frantically grabbing clothes it was 9:25. Well, it looked like we were going to find out what happens when you’re late to a race!

I parked my car at 9:43 on the dot. I figured no race actually starts right on time so I began the 3/4 mile-ish jog to the start feeling completely foolish running down the street in green shorts, green t-shirt, and neon green procompression socks. By the time I got up to the start area it was roughly 9:53, 8 minutes late. I then proceeded to completely miss the actual start line because I was looking for the typical arch of balloons/blow up arch thingy. Thankfully I saw one of my friends who was cheering and said “I’m late! WHERE IS THE START?!?!” She pointed to it and I started on my way, remembering to hit the lap button on my garmin a couple seconds after I crossed the start line.

Do I look cold? Because I was. This was at the start where I was laughing at how ludicrous it was being 8 minutes late to a race. Side note: I HATE running with a cell phone. BUT I was nervous my baby would need me :)

Do I look cold? Because I was. This was at the start where I was laughing at how ludicrous it was being 8 minutes late to a race. Side note: I HATE running with a cell phone. BUT I was nervous my baby would need me :)

The actual 5-miles:

First my race plan: The night before I had decided that I should try to do this as a progression run, starting out around 8:50 and then speeding up each mile, with the last 2 really pushing it….Now with that little tidbit of knowledge,  sit back, read on and laugh.

Mile 1: The race starts at the start of the Detroit-Superior bridge in Cleveland and as I crested the top of the bridge I had to smile at the complete disaster that the start had been. I actually briefly thought that the only thing that would cap off this hellacious start was if I started leaking during the race – little one hadn’t really nursed a whole lot before I left so that was a distinct possibility. I was literally THE LAST person to start the race – 2 minutes in I caught up with the cop car that was following the runners and thought I should probably check my watch since I felt like I was running a little faster than my planned pace. I glanced down – 7:52. Sh*t. The really awesome thing is that 7:5x didn’t actually feel horribly fast, or that I was redlining cardiovascularly but I knew that I had neither the strength nor the endurance to continue on at that pace. So I slowed it down bigtime (or so I thought). I didn’t check my watch again until just before the mile marker…Mile 1 clocked in at 7:54. Whoops. Guess I didn’t slow down quite as much as I thought. Again, effort wise it still felt like what I would call tempo pace, but I knew I could NOT sustain that for 4 more miles.

Mile 2: Honestly mile 2 is kind of a blur to me. I think it was mostly a gentle downhill. My split was 8:17, and I remember somewhere around the end of mile 2 entertaining the thought that maybe I could surprise myself with my time this race. That didn’t last very long.

Mile 3: Hah. Oh Mile 3. My watch says I ran an 8:53, which is funny because I could have sworn while I was running it that every time I checked the watch my “lap pace” was a 9:XX…Mile 3 is when I caught up to the hundreds of people who were jogging the race at an 11 minute pace. There were a LOT of them and I would like to say my time slowed because I was stuck behind hungover people running 3 and 4 across, chatting about the shenanigans of the night before. But truthfully I let that be an excuse to tuck in behind them for a few seconds and catch my breath before moving on to the next group. I realized a couple of things in mile 3, ONE: that mentally I was not ready to “race” for 40+ minutes. That’s a loooong time to concentrate for this severely sleep deprived mama right now, and I realized I didn’t have enough “fight” (or care) in me to push for that long. And TWO: I realized that it is exhausting to be running 1+ minute per mile faster than everyone else around you, constantly passing people. I thought I would like it but you have to constantly push to keep yourself running faster than them.

Mile 4: 9:40. Yowza. You could say the wheels fell off in Mile 4, but there was also a GIANT hill in Mile 4. Aside from not running a whole heck of lot period prior to this race you know what I haven’t done? HILLS. I have not run one single hill. As we started up the hill someone around me said “Oh man this hill is gonna be a Mother F-er”. It was hilarious, and true. I almost considered throwing in the towel and just walking, but my pride carried me up {slowly} and in the end it wasn’t that bad.

Mile 5: 8:33 pace. I’m actually pretty impressed with myself for pulling an 8:33 the last mile, because mentally and physically I was toast. It probably helps that the majority of the last half a mile was downhill to the finish.

Finish Time: Hah. This is where things get even funnier. As I checked my time online later that day I couldn’t find my name ANYWHERE. The problem is I was looking where I roughly thought my avg pace would be. I looked for close to 15 minutes before I finally found my name…it said my average pace was 10:08. TEN OH EIGHT!?!? WHAT?!?!?! Was I on crack that whole race? did my garmin just completely wonk out? What happened? Then I realized that my chip time and gun time were exactly the same. Apparently when you start as late as I did they turn off the b-tag timing thingie at the start and you just go off of gun time because it only registers at the finish. Oops.

Sooo officially I really have no idea how fast I ran. Unofficially, if you take my Garmin TIME for the warm-up/jog to start + race: 49:13 and subtract the jog to start part (lap 1): 6:44 I would guess my time was roughly 42:30 something? Am I doing that right? That seems faster than it should be. Also, when I did the math the day of the race I had my time figured out to be just at 43 minutes. Someone please help me. Here are my Garmin splits:

That 0.74 at the beginning was my warmup, I hit the split button at the start and from there on just let it auto split at 1 mile intervals.

That 0.74 at the beginning was my warmup, I hit the split button at the start and from there on just let it auto split at 1 mile intervals.

I have to say, it’s actually kind of neat to not know exactly what my time was. It was the definition of a “rust buster” race, and in the end it really doesn’t matter what time I ran. I had fun, I {really} enjoyed being back out there, I pushed the pace a little bit, and I did not run smart :).  Everything a first race back should be, in my opinion. Also, I must admit it felt darn good to have sore legs the next few days. I do love post-race soreness.

Also, I’m happy to report that the strange pelvic pain is TOTALLY gone, despite my racing AND running a couple times already this week. I’m starting to get into the groove again (FINALLY!) and it feels so good.

4 thoughts on “How to Positive Split the Crap Out of a Race

  1. nice job! way to get back out there!!! and…is this what i have to look forward to next weekend at my first race post-baby?!?! getting everything out and ready for the baby ahead of time takes SO much time! i always forget about myself!

  2. Congrats!! I loved this – a little bit of a disaster but a fun time overall is exactly what (in my opinion) a first race back should be! And baby survived while you were gone, so that’s another win in my book ;) I’m “racing” in a few weeks and I am incredibly undertrained for it. My post-baby comeback hasn’t been as glorious as I had hoped (surprise, surprise). I’m totally fine with that, but if I was smart I probably would have started with a more manageable distance. Funny how when you’re still pregnant (or even in those first weeks of recovery), a couple of months seems like plenty of time to get back into some sort of shape.

    Anyway, congrats again on getting back out there! I love that picture of you after the start – you look so happy!

  3. Pingback: Hermes 10 Miler Race Recap | eat good, live good, feel good

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