Today I ran a local race, the Smithfield Shamrock Shuffle 5K. By "local", I mean, "race that I can run to from my house. The Smithfield Rec Center puts it on along with the Cache Sun 'n' Snow Runners. I like running the S'n'S races, because they know how to put on a race and they are nice folks. Plus, this race was only $5, and you get $1 off if you wear green. So I wore green.
I slept in until 7AM today, and then got up and decided to do a short run to get some extra miles early (since it was supposed to snow later), and to try to shake out some of the crud in my legs. I ran from my house down to the race start line (about a mile), and then ran the 5K course. The first half mile is a pretty decent uphill with about 125 ft of gain. I run it several times a week over the course of my daily runs, and it's no fun. The next 1.5 miles is a nice, fast downhill. The route loses about 230 ft during this stretch. The final mile is a gradual but noticeable uphill, about 70 ft of climb over the mile. Due to the uphill start and uphill finish of this loop course, I rank it as a moderately difficult route. Not as hard as Striders 5K, but certainly much slower than First Dam Run, TOU 5K, Heart of Holladay, Draper Days, and courses like that. For my shakeout run, I just did the route pretty slow. Felt like garbage.
I went back home after the first run (about 5.5 miles total), ate breakfast, read, drank some coffee, and put some finishing touches on the new Wasatch Back Relay maps. Typical Saturday morning stuff. At about 9:15AM, I realized that I should probably get back down to the Rec Center and register, since the race starts at 10AM. I found a few dollar bills, stuffed them in my tights, and headed down.
Registered, warmed up a little more, talked to some people, met some new people. The typical pre-race stuff I really like. Eventually, the race management herded us all up to the start line, and they got the race going, pretty close to on time.
Being a small, local fun-run, a few kids bolted out to the front, most notably a junior high girl and a junior high boy. The girl faded pretty quick, but the boy kept putting distance on me (keep in mind we're going up a 4% grade hill). I just tried to run steady and not too hard, especially since I wasn't really in the mood to run hard today. Near the top of the hill, before the turn, I started reeling the kid in. I was kind of feeling sorry for him, knowing that he would certainly die a painful death the rest of the race, but was also waxing nostalgic a bit for those days of my own youth, when I could just sprint up hills without fearing the consequences.
We turned the corner from 600 S onto 1000 W, and uphill turned into downhill. I passed the kid, and just tried to keep a strong push on the downhill, and also regain my breath at the same time. Soon, I couldn't hear any footsteps behind me, and I knew the rest of the way would be a time trial/workout. I hit Mile 1 in 5:16, which was faster than I thought it would be. Turns out that I have a favorable cross-wind/tailwind. Garmin time matched pretty well with the road mark. Cache S'n'S use a wheel for a lot of their courses, so they are usually pretty accurate.
The downhill flattened out a bit as I neared Hyde Park, but then the route made another right turn onto 4400 N, and I had another mile or so of fairly big downhill. I just tried to enjoy the ride, knowing that I was going to get uphill (and a headwind) for the last mile. My Mile 2 split was 4:57. The crosswind was not favorable in this direction, which slowed it down slightly, but not much.
Right after Mile 2, I turned the corner onto 300 E. Now it was a gradual 1% uphill, and also a mild to moderate headwind. I wasn't feeling too motivated to finish out the race with a bang, so just tried to run steady and reasonably strong. And behold, I made it back to 600 S, and turned the corner. Hit Mile 3 split in 5:23.
At this point, I had about a 2% uphill to the Rec Center/Skyview parking lot, and then a left turn into the lot, and into the chute. Pretty much just coasted in, victorious, but lazy. I averaged 5:30-pace for the last 0.1. I ended up stopping at the beginning of the chute, but the finish line was at the end of the chute. So my garmin time was 16:21, but my offical time was 16:27, since I walked it in. Ah well.
Second place was a Mountain Crest freshman, about 17:30 (good effort). Surprisingly, the 7th grader who rabbited out so hard was 3rd place with 17:50. I was actually quite impressed, given his age and race strategy. Kid probably has a future with running.
I never felt that great during the race, and wasn't really in the mood to race, but that's why I thought it would be good to do a race. Sometimes I need a little push like that. My next race (Striders Half) will hopefully be a little bit spunkier, and then my third race, a peak race, I'll hopefully have all the cobwebs kicked out and fire on all cylinders. My achilles has been concerning me since early February, so I've backed off on speedwork, tempos, hills, and strides, which certainly hurt 5K speed as well, but my endurance is still pretty good. Hopefully the speed will come around. I'll have to see how my achilles responds to racing flats and a race effort, and gauge my future training off that. I'm hoping I can start getting back into some quality work again. The achilles has not been hurting while running lately, but is a little sore to the touch when I push on it the right way.
After the race, I talked to some more people, met some neighbors, etc. Decided to stick around for the awards, and glad I did, because I won an exercise ball in the raffle, and then a $20 Al's gift certificate for 1st place. Not bad for a $4 race that I didn't even need to drive to.
After awards, I joined up with the Red Rooster and with DaveS, and we shuttled up to my house, where I changed my shoes, and then we cooled down for 6 miles by doing an out-and-back to Smithfield Canyon via Summit Dr. During the time of the awards, the weather really took a turn for the worse. The wind picked up about three-fold, and it also started snowing. The first part of our cooldown was just terrible, as we were going straight into the wind, but then it got better after that, and the last four miles were decent. I'm just glad it wasn't that windy during the race.
Anyway, kind of a "beh" start to the racing year, but that's how I wanted it. Time to eeeaase back into racing, so mission accomplished.