Saturday, April 9, 2011


I was supposed to run the GW Parkway Classic 5K as my first race post injury. The race is scheduled for Sunday morning. However, if the government were to have shut down, there would be no race. My backup plan was the Crystal City 5K last Friday night.

At 6:00pm, it looked as if the government would in fact shut down. No decision had been made and they were still arguing over what they were actually arguing over. Plus, one of the articles I read said that even if they DID agree to something, there wouldn't be enough time to write something up and make it official by midnight. So I went ahead and raced Crystal City, telling myself I would cry and throw stuff if the government didn't shut down and I could have raced the Parkway. I thought about finding another 5K on Sunday as a backup instead. But none of the ones I found were as appealing as the Crystal City race. And then I would be kicking myself for not running Crystal City. 

There are quite a few reasons I would have preferred the Parkway over Crystal City. After all, I don't shell out $45 for just any 5K. The Parkway Classic is special to me. I registered for this race long after it closed, thanks to my affiliation with Pacers. And when I did, I was super excited about it. I love this race because the course is fast, it's well organized, it's point-to-point and I've participated most every year since 2006. The weather forecast for Sunday at 8:00am was overcast and 53 with nearly no wind. Ideal. Crystal City, on the other hand, was rainy, slippery, windy at points, and with quite a few hairpin turns.

When I woke up this morning, I did cry and throw stuff. The Parkway Classic is on and the Government didn't shutdown. I made the wrong choice.

I want to run the Parkway Classic!!!!! Badly. But I know it's not smart because I am just returning from multiple stress fractures. And I might be disappointed with my time, having just run a 5K less than 48 hours prior. Dammit!!!! I just feel so stupid. I should have known that those politicians wanted to look like heroes at the last minute. I should have just found another 5K backup and had more faith that the Parkway Classic would run. And why, why did the government have to wait to the very last minute to make this decision! Seriously!!???  You couldn't have come up with this on Friday morning? 

Anyway, my race was so-so. I ran a strong first mile, had a difficult time in the second mile, but then came back strong during the last mile. And the point 0.1 might have been my slowest ever for a 5K. . . . 

The course: relatively flat, but with inclines and declines, about three hair-pin turns and several "curve-arounds" with a curvy uphill finish.

Mile 1: 7:08
This was my goal pace for the race, and I was elated that I ran exactly on pace for the first mile.

Mile 2: 7:24
What I didn't realize about mile 1 was that the wind was at my back. It wasn't an overly windy night, but with all the tall buildings in Crystal City and the gusts that would come, it got to be very tiring. There was about a half-mile stretch during the second mile where I was running directly into the wind and the course was on an incline and I just felt like I was in a losing battle. At one point, my hat flew off  my head, and I was barely able to catch it. I ran the rest of the race holding my hat. I was actually in the 7:30's for most of the mile, but as it ended, I was able to pick up the pace a bit and net a 7:24. 

Mile 3: 7:12
I was highly discouraged by my second mile split and knew my goal of a 7:08 average was shot. But I still wanted to run strong so I forced myself to push. I passed several people in this mile, which was very encouraging. 

Last 0.1: Slow.
Slippery Surface Finish
I didn't stop my Garmin as soon as I crossed the line, so I am not sure exactly what my pace was here, but my problem was that this finish was around a curve, that was going uphill, on a slippery wet brick surface. Because the surface was more slippery than the rest of the course due to it being brick and it was on a curve, I was afraid to take this fast and slip so I actually slowed. My Garmin data shows a spike at a 14:45 pace during that last 0.1. 

Official time: 22:41, 20 seconds slower than my PR.

I wasn't thrilled, but I also think it's a decent time, given my highest mileage week was 18 miles and prior to that it was even lower. I was also happy that my shins didn't hurt. I never take that for granted. I think that the wind in the second mile, combined with the slippery pavement and hairpin turns really affected my momentum. This is why I think that I would have run maybe 15-20 seconds faster on the Parkway. No hairpin turns, the pavement wouldn't be wet, the forecast doesn't have the wind. The last stretch is on a long straightaway so you can see the finish line and have a strong final kick. That last 0.1 last night was my slowest portion of the race, simply because of the wet brick surface going on a curved uphill. 

Have I mentioned yet that I REALLY want to run the GW Parkway Classic tomorrow?????  It's going to take all the restraint I have to not go and run it. I just have to remind myself that even though the risk of re-injury is very small, if I were to get re-injured, I would seriously never forgive myself. And after having raced last night, I don't think my performance would be what it could have been if I hadn't done Crystal City.  I'm so frustrated!!!!!!! And I know it sounds horrible, but now I am just insanely jealous of everyone who does get to run the Parkway. 

I am still blaming myself and feeling like I am so stupid for deciding to race last night. I really wasn't in the mood for it. I felt sluggish all day. BLAH! :-( 

The good news is that I was one of the top ten women: 9 out of 396. This is the top 97th percentile, so I guess I really can't complain about that. 

My next race is the Crystal City 5K on Friday, April 22. Hopefully I'll do better, but I feel like everything these days is just out of my control. All I can do is try my hardest.


  1. You should have run behind me as I am pretty good at blocking the wind.
    Nice race though!

  2. I'm like 2 minutes behind my PR when I come back to racing from an injury, so I'm amazed you were that close! Maybe you can switch to the 10 miler and just run it as an easy long run. It's such a beautiful race and it's supposed to be 52 out.

    I think you are too hard on yourself. With all the allergens floating around and poor weather, your first race back, you did amazing! Next time you'll kick ass.

  3. First race back!! Amazing time Elizabeth! Be easy on yourself--your pool time has so paid off and there will be plenty of 5ks!!!

  4. Sorry you didn't get to run the Parkway. :( Don't be so hard on yourself, you're a badass! :D

    How did you get your picture already?

  5. Honestly, it is what it is. Yes it sucks, but there are other races and other opportunities for a PR. And you can never be sure what time you would have run until you actually run it.

  6. This actually sounds awesome for your first race back! I agree with Dash that you're being way too hard on yourself - this is a great comeback!

    And, the government is really stupid. You can just blame the whole thing on them :)

  7. Thanks everyone. I just feel like I cheated myself out of one of my favorite races. And I am really angry at myself for doing it.

    Caldwell- that's actually a really good idea. If it's windy on April 22 I will do that. You ran closer to the time I wanted!

    Cris- You make a good point, I just feel like I missed out on something great and I blame myself for it.

  8. BAH. bah on those government guys screwing everything up.

    i will also say, when i come back from injury i am like 5 minutes off my PR so you are doing AWESOME this time! I'll be at the next friday night 5K, say hi!

  9. Hindsight is 20/20. I think we know by now, one thing to NEVER DO is trust the government!! Those psychopathic authoritarians will do anything to sell us out to get votes for themselves!! Never trust known liars and don't ever steal, the government hates competition!! And 20 seconds off a PR after those injuries isn't too shabby the way you described that race. go back to the previous post with the heart rate monitor.. You were in good shape here for where you were at the time!! Pale's in comparison to today but we know that already!!