Race Recap: Step Out 5K / ADA 5k

Posted: 11/12/2013 in 5k, Race Recaps, Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Some things – they just aren’t about the clock.

When I first registered for the ADA Step Out 5k, I was feeling really torn about it. It happened to be the same day as the Monumental 13.1 in Indianapolis – which was the focus race the running group had been training for all Summer. I was feeling wishy-washy about a 13.1, but after Hudy felt like I could get it done if I went that way. There were also a few other stops I was considering in Indy, including a meetup opportunity with the Run The Bluegrass peeps, and I could knock them all out with this one drive.

But then there was my friend Mark.  You see, ADA stands for American Diabetes Association. Mark lost his mom to complications of diabetes early in the Summer and was fundraising for the ADA 5k as a way to honor her. It was going to be a family affair – Mark is my Maine’s husband – so yeah, family to me. Go to Indy with the people I consider my running family, or walk with Mark and my friend-family.  Did I say I was torn? Let me restate that. TORN. I’m sure I sound a little like an asshole for even having that dilemma, but if you run regularly with a pack of people, there’s a loyalty there that’s hard to understand if you’re not a group runner. Also, I have a kind of skepticism for corporate charity fundraising mechanisms, but that’s a separate thing.

THEN, I reminded myself that I hadn’t touched my 5k PR from last year and was running out of good running weather to make that happen. SELFISH DECISION MADE. Do the 5k and put in a good faith effort towards a PR, support my friend, earn a good breakfast out.

AND THEN, I talked to Mark some more as he started showing up to my yoga classes – turns out, Mark wasn’t just fundraising & walking – he was planning to RUN this as his very first 5K. And he’d been training for realz! Started hitting the gym, cleaned up his diet, gave up alcohol until after the race – HE WAS COMMITTED! If the man was gonna honor his momma – he was going to do it right! No half-ass effort.  Just looking at the changes he was making on his way to race day, I was really awed. I have pretty awesome friends – but once in awhile – I get knocked on my ass amazed at just how truly incredible they are. This was one of those times. Mark awe-smacked me! He worked so hard on this thing that he even had to raise his fundraising limit because he passed it with time to spare & felt like he could raise more. How could I have ever considered NOT being there to support his effort?

The day dawned bright and sunny, but also chilly with more than a bit of wind. Our happy little group of 10-12 was huddled in the breezeway at GABP waiting for things to get started. This group included my Eric, who I had registered as a runner so that he could start with us (the walk start was a 10-min delay). I knew he would at least run a few parts of it – because he’s my husband and I know him. Man says he’ll walk it, but if everyone else is running it – he’s going to do at least some running. Also, he walks faster than most of us run. I’ve actually gotten shin splints trying to keep up with him. (Seriously honey – SLOW DOWN – your wife is short! Love ya!)

The race got underway and we all started out loosely together – staying close to Mark for about the first half-mile. Then we began to spread out. I realized pretty quickly that my legs just weren’t in PR mood and decided that I would be helpful by doing what I call “playing carrot”. Sometimes when I am running, if I’m struggling, I pick a person a distance in front of me to be the carrot – I promise myself that I am going to keep them in sight as if they are a carrot being held in front of my nose. I may not be able to pass him/her, but I will do my damnedest to keep them right where they are in front of me.  I know other runners that do this too. So I pulled out about a block ahead, where the group could still see my back and tried to match their pace from there – figuring if Mark could see my back only a short distance ahead, it would help him stay running.  Though – he had Maine by his side the whole time, as well as Maine’s dad and my Eric. Mark was running with a personal posse of coaches!

We hit the first of two significant hills just after the 2 mile mark. I climbed it to do my own hillwork, then doubled back. The group was coming around to the base of it just as I was coming back down to cheer and run the crest of it again. After that – it was last mile! The struggle was becoming real as Mark said aloud that things were getting hard and his calf was beginning to cramp – he’d done the distance in training runs before and knew he could do it – but as we all know, races are different, harder somehow. Maine was still coaching him like a champ – staying right alongside him –  and I started reminding him to breathe yoga class style – get the oxygen down into that calf! Recheck form. Relax shoulders.

Finally we rounded the last corner, which was onto the field at the ballpark  (Mark & Maine are huge Reds fans too) and as we crossed third base, heading for home and the finish line just in front of the dugout – MARK TOOK OFF! GO MARK! – sprinting his very first finish! With Maine & Eric on his heels and me coming in behind to watch them all cross.

Mark had run all of his very first 5k!! How cool is that?! And equally cool – my husband surprising the shit out of me by running almost all of his first 5k!! Eric had taken to doing some Galloways – having heard me talk about them enough to know what they were – letting himself walk when he needed to and counting off the 60 seconds rest before running to catch back up. He’d kept up with us the entire run! Seriously – how could I even have considered being anywhere else? This was freakin’ AMAZING to be a part of!

And also friends, looks like Mark is one of my running peeps now too. 🙂  (Eric = still not convinced. yet. muahahaha)

For details on the race itself – I have to say – not sure I would do this one again.  Pros:

  • The route was nice and water stops were okay.
  • A big pro of it was that they had a pretty good post-race spread of food – sandwiches from Honey Baked Ham & soup from Zoup!
  • The kids got to play on the batting field Kids Zone at the park.
  • They had volunteers with giant foam fingers giving high-fives to everyone as they walked off the field after crossing the finish line. I REALLY LIKED THAT!

But the rest of it was kind of a pain in the butt. Cons:

  • After you registered, you got this packet in the mail. I saw it and was thinking – great! They mailed us bibs! – NOPE. It was a fundraising envelope and your event waiver. Which you had to bring with you to get your bib at the event. Thus giving the volunteers the opportunity to side-eye the empty-envelope non-fundraising shmucks. Since I don’t mind contributing – and did so ONLINE above and beyond my registration – this irked me. I do too many runs a year to solicit for them beyond my own donations. Then, when you got to packet pickup at the event, it turned out that you didn’t really need the empty envelope. Just carrying it around for no good reason.
  • I found out LATER that there was a packet pick-up opportunity earlier in the week that I would have happily gone too instead. Except that finding this detail on the website was like trying to ferret out a cheat code for Tombraider. Eric & I had to leave the house by 8:30 for a 10AM race which is 8 minutes from our house to be sure we had time to do packet pickup. Usually I would not leave the house until 9:30 for a 10AM race at GABP.
  • There were too many pre-race ceremonies – like 30 minutes worth. To me, this is a sign of non-runners organizing a run event. You just don’t leave runners standing around out in the November cold pre-race for long periods. Runners dress differently to run than they do to stand around for 30 minutes and not everyone has a person to leave jackets & warm gear with who is not running. Other than a 2-minute announcement and the Star-Spangled Banner, ceremonies are a post-run thing.  I was chilled to the bone before the run ever started and never quite shook it off. Everyone else appeared to have frozen tuchuses too and watching the kids get cold from standing around made my heart hurt.
  • Post-race water. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS FLUID. When Mark got done with his sprint finish – and Eric too – they needed water. Like NOW. We all know how that feels. Except that there was none. To get water, you had to go up out of the field area and to the Smokehouse pavilion – which is about another .2 miles including the stairs. I’ve seen water put in some funky places before – but this was the furthest from the finish that I have ever seen water. A volunteer told me that GABP wouldn’t let them put the water any closer – to which I called fraud. I’ve done several runs at GABP and not had it be this far away before. “Well, that was during the season…” she said when I responded the same. “Well, we just didn’t have that many runners, this is more a walker event…” she said. I don’t care. You have runners – you have water close to the finish line. It’s an unwritten rule. Seriously, this makes me want to flick someone on the forehead. You should never have a situation where an exhausted runner has to go search out water. Also, I had to walk by 3 different vendors giving out water bottles (empty water bottles) while looking for actual water – that’s just mean.
  • Finally – results. Not that I actually cared b/c like I said – PR got thrown out the window. But – I couldn’t find results anywhere on the race page – not even a link. On a google search, I found a link that showed everyone’s name but no times – and there was supposed to be chip timing. FINALLY and much later  – I find a link on the race FB page for results. Sorry people who aren’t on FB – no results for you. Again with the cryptic website crap. People, runners want to know when, where, where to pick up a packet and where to get results. That information should be up front and easy to find on a run website. Nothing more frustrating – especially when you’ve had an awesome race – than not being able to find the official results or having them delayed a ridiculously long time.

So overall – really glad to be there for my friend, and I do appreciate the cause – diabetes research needs LOTS more funding – but not thrilled with any organization that throws a race and then puts the racers second.

Put the racers first and the money will come.


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