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Monday, October 20, 2014

Come-back race: Oktoberfest 5k

In the words of my favorite garbage can, outside Audubon park:
This graffiti showed up sometime after Katrina, and has been cracking me up ever since. What better way to proclaim your return to fame and prowess than graffiti on a city trash can?

Saturday night I ran a 5k!
The deal with this race was just too good to pass up: for $20, you got race entry, free entry into Oktoberfest, two beer tags for fancy Oktoberfest beer, and an awesome technical singlet.

I love me some sleeveless.

David and I signed up for the race awhile ago, and I was pretty sure I'd be fine. It's only three miles, after all. But I was still nervous when we arrived. I had no idea what pace to run, but I guessed that I could probably hold 7min miles, and planned to do just that.

Saturday was unseasonably warm, and we showed up to a race on the exposed levee, baking under the sun. Normally, this straight and flat out-and-back would be a great PR 5k (although you have to get up on the levee, so there are actually flatter 5k courses in the city!). This night, though, it was a little too hot. I warmed up for two slow miles in the grass on the batture, and my hip felt great. What didn't feel great was my stomach. My pain and cramping has continued since returning from Peru, and it has been especially annoying while running. Plus a 5pm race start meant I'd eaten lunch just a few hours before. I ended up making a quick bathroom stop instead of strides - I would have felt silly doing strides given my planned pace anyway!
About to cross Williams Blvd and run up onto the levee - photo credit NOTC
The race started into the sun and into a headwind, which was great, because that meant opposite conditions on the way back! Even though I wanted to pace evenly, I sprinted out of the start. Very quickly the race funnels onto a 2-abreast pathway up the side of the levee, and I didn't want to get trapped. Once I got on top of the levee, I slowed back down and kept my Garmin showing average pace. Mile one: 6:57. Nice. I felt okay, just hot and sweaty. I was kind of drenched just after warming up.
Half-way through mile two we turned around, and got out of the strong sun. Just in time, because I was starting to tire. At the turn-around, I noted that none of the usual "fast girls" were out, probably because there had been another 5k that morning. I was third, but fourth was close behind me. Mile two: 7:01.
At the start of mile three, the girl behind me passed me and I let her go; I was tired, my stomach hurt a lot, and for some reason I was fixated on my average pace. I continued at a consistent pace, but my stomach was cramping badly. Suddenly the finish line was ahead, I mildly (very mildly) picked it up, and finished in 21:31. Mile 3: 7:00.
My hip felt okay, my stomach demanded immediate attention, and my face felt burned. Sure enough, the levee sun was strong enough that my skin and scalp - just recovered from burning in Peru! - burned again, even though I had sunblock on.

I was okay with this race. I needed to know my baseline, and I guess my baseline is 6:58's for three miles. It's not as fast as I used to be, but then, I think I can improve on that. Maybe not back to my former paces, but I can get a little better. A 21:31 wasn't even good enough for my age group, even at a small NOTC race; it's disappointing to not do well, but it's thrilling to not be in pain!


  1. Yeah for not being in pain!! There's a lot to be said for that. That is basically the exact time I ran my "come back" 5K in after my stress fracture this spring, and I felt the same way--respectable, but room for improvement.

    Also, super jealous that your local races are getting to tanks/singlets. I'm pretty sure have enough long sleeved race shirts to wear one every day for the rest of my life without washing them.

  2. Wow... I'm impressed considering the elements, sour stomach, and you had major surgery on your hip earlier this year! Nice job!

  3. That's a great result especially knowing what you've been through in the last few months.
    As far as your stomach's concerned - it might pay to be checked for Giardia. I've heard that it's rife in less developed countries and is really easy to pick up.

  4. Nice work! What a great comeback given all you've been through this year. $20 for all of that is a fantastic deal. But it looks hot - a big reason I prefer morning races!

  5. Great start back! Every race is a step forward and I have no doubt you'll be right where you want to be before long.

  6. Congratulations on your comeback race!! That's an awesome singlet! (In re: your stomach issues after Peru. I had stomach pains for about a week after I got back, even though I felt fine the whole time I was there).

  7. It's always humbling to start back up after a layoff and realize exactly how much you've lost. That's a great time - embrace the progress! :)

  8. That's a great comeback race! Exactly what you wanted with the 7-min pace :)