Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Arizona Road Racers Summer Series Race Recap

Okay, after giving mad props over to my friend KO on her new book, I will return to recapping my trip to Arizona for you.  Happy now?  Okay, good!

So, after our amazing days of horseback riding, visiting Sedona, and the Grand Canyon, Saturday morning started with another very early morning -- this time to run a local 5K race!!  I was so excited for this part of the trip, because as you know, I have a goal to run a race in every state in the country (any type of race!) so this was going to check my Arizona box!

The race started at 6:30 a.m. due to the Arizona heat, and we planned to arrive at 5:30 a.m. to check in, get our bibs, etc.  Our group consisted of a mix of runners (I know Brick from the running group in Atlanta), avid exercisers, and some that were planning to walk the course.  After getting our bibs, we went back to the car to play some pump up tunes and scope out the competition as they parked around us.  We were imagining a small group and had been told that there were about 600 people participating in the race.  As we observed people walking in, we noticed a lot of seemingly older (mid-30s and up) and younger (high school) people arriving at the race, but nobody really in our age group.  My guess is that it probably has to do with the early start on a Saturday morning, however, who knows, because even some of the local races in Atlanta often have small amounts of runners in the 20-30 year old age groups.  My goal was to run the race fast, since I hadn't run in a few days (woops) my legs were rested, which they usually aren't always for a 5K.  However, I have been eating and drinking a lot lately and am up a few pounds so I wasn't sure what to expect.  At around 6:00 a.m. we got back out of the car to head over to the start of the race.

The starting line area was starting to fill up and there was actually a bit more organization going on than I expected.  People were setting up pace groups based on the minute mile you were expecting to run and they also had free massages and stretching tables set up, which I obviously decided to take part in BOTH of, thank you very much.  I will say it multiple times - never give up a free massage!!

As the race was about to start, I positioned myself at the front of the 9:00 minute mile group.  They were setting off the pace groups every 30 seconds and ideally would have maybe liked to be in the middle of the 8:00 minute group but that area was PACKED.  Once the race started off for me, I went out what felt fast, and immediately was the front of the 9:00 minute crowd and started passing people at 8:00 minutes.  I know that people are often optimistic, so I didn't really think I was running sub-8:00 but really just balancing out.

I felt good the first mile, the course was on a sidewalk mostly and not particularly scenic for that first mile.  At about 1-2 the course was a straight away that then turned around and it was just on blazing hot cement and you could feel the heat on the course.  I started to feel dead and at 1.5 miles when they had water, for one of the first times ever I was tempted to stop and drink some during a 5K race.  I pushed through, fighting to maintain my pace but also feeling myself slow down a little at the end of that last 2nd mile.  I also looked at my watch quite a bit during this race, wanting it to be over.  I never look at my watch during a 5K race!

I looked for my friends during the out and back loop, I imagined myself getting passed by people in an effort to keep my pace up, and I took the corners sharp and pushed as much as I could.  I felt myself dying and just tried to keep going.  The third mile was through some shaded areas, which was really nice, but also on gravel, which I don't particularly enjoy running on.

At about a quarter of a mile left, there was a photographer who I saw and did my best to put a smile on my face for, imagining that I probably looked like I was in so much pain.  However, the pic actually came out better than I thought.  So that's rather exciting.

I finished the race totally out of breathe (which you should be at the end of a race!!) in a time of 25:12, which is just shy of a PR for me (25:10 is my best in a 5K.)  I caught my breathe, grabbed some much needed water, and waited and watched for my friends to finish.  After the other runners came in, we took some pictures and began to celebrate the race.  I wanted a good picture with the "Arizona Road Racers" sign as evidence that I had completed a new state in my challenge!!

After the photo shoot, the guy on our trip let us know that he had just checked out the official results and our times.  He said he had come in 5th place in his age group and then told one of the other girls that she had come in 4th place.  Knowing that I had finished before her, we got excited and looked up to see that I had come in 2nd place in my age group!!! I was SO excited as I have never placed in a race before and always wanted to.

We started to celebrate a bit, and I thought it was pretty cool to have gotten 2nd place.  We met up with the two girls who had walked/run the course, helping bring them home, and then waited around for the awards ceremony to start!  Right before they started the ceremony, the other girls all went to go check their official results as well.  There was a pretty neat set up where you could look everything up with ease, so we rechecked some of the other times as well and saw that the other girl who had earlier indicated had placed 4th, was updated to place 3rd!  I realized I should probably check mine again and when I did -- saw that I had been updated to have placed FIRST in my age group!!!!

For some reason, although I was excited about getting 2nd place, I felt SO MUCH more excited having come in 1st place for my age group!!!  Now, I know that I am not a fast runner.  I know that my time was not extraordinary by any means.  It wasn't even my own personal fastest time.  I placed in this race because there were not many people in my age group whatsoever, none the less any fast people.  That being said, there WERE 12 people who ran in my age group and I came in first though!!!  I doubt I will ever again win a race, so I just was taking it all in when the awards were announced!  Everyone was clapping for the different winners, but our group was so rowdy and cheered so loud when they announced my win and the other girl's 3rd place finish!  Can you tell I am beaming?

We packed up after getting the medals, of course stopping to take a few more pictures before we left for real.  Have I mentioned how much I love traveling with people who also appreciate a good picture opportunity?  It truly is wonderful.  I also wanted a ton of pictures with my medal because truly, I figure it is the only time I will ever win first place in my age group in a race!!!

It was a really fun morning and super exciting for me to check off another state on my race list.  I am at 10/50 now, which is obviously nowhere near complete!  It is not something that I have a deadline or a timeline for, just a goal to help me to see new parts of the country and keep myself racing and also exploring.  It is a lifetime goal, so I have plenty of time!

Following the race, we ate a ginormous breakfast and then returned home for some naps. Oh, and as a fun fact, when I called my mom to tell her that I won my age group her reaction was, "Really? Um... how many people RAN the race?"  Geez, mom, why can't you let me be great?!?!  Anyways, I will keep going with the rest of the weekend later, but this my Arizona Road Racers Summer Series 5K Recap and the 10th state on my journey towards all 50!

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