Sunday, May 28, 2023

Spontaneous Fiesta 5K

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am taking an off season from racing this spring. Thus, my blogging frequency has declined. 

My reasons for taking an off season were to focus on strength training, to give myself a mental break, and to fully recover from Covid. I haven't taken an optional off season since I started racing in 2005!  It's been nice not having to adhere to a rigid schedule and feeling more free with my runs in terms of pace and distance. My goal has been to maintain a base of around 30 miles per week with a maximum of one harder effort per week. 

Of course this is probably the nicest spring I've ever experienced in terms of running weather. In February and March it was unseasonably warm which meant I didn't have to layer up. In April and May it's been unseasonably cool with low humidity. Almost every morning in May has been below 60 degrees, which is unheard of.  The past few mornings have even dipped into the 40s. I could have raced almost any weekend and had great weather! 

I succumbed to my temptations a few weeks ago when my friend Cheryl was racing the Fiesta 5K. The forecast was looking amazing, it was a flat course, and I didn't have plans for that morning. So I made the decision the day before the race to run it with her and I registered on site. 

The race was on Saturday May 6 and held in honor of Cinco de Mayo. I didn't have a goal time or a goal range or a pacing strategy or anything. I didn't come up with a race plan until about 15 minutes before the race. So unlike me! But that's the fun of having an off season.

The one thing I knew was that I did NOT want to run this race at 100% effort. I hadn't done enough hard workouts to prepare for that mentally and I wanted to keep this fun - not painful! Once again, the complete opposite of my usual race mentality.

Before the Race
The plan was to have a banana at home and then take a UCAN gel 30 minutes before race start. After eating half of the banana, I realized I shouldn't be doing that. I recently starting taking thyroid medication for mild hypothyroidism and you are supposed to take it first thing in the morning and then not eat anything for an hour. Otherwise it doesn't get absorbed. This will definitely impact race morning going forward. If I want to take my medication correctly, I will have to wake up even earlier to be able to take the pill, wait one hour, and then eat breakfast 2 hours before race start.

I am not sure if I blogged about it but I was treated for hypothyroidism back in 2019 using desecrated pig thyroid hormone. It was an over the counter supplement and it really worked to get my labwork numbers looking strong. However, I didn't notice any difference in how I felt so I stopped taking it six months later, thinking it wasn't that important. Back in January, my levels spiked with Covid and when they came back down they were still a little high, so my doctor decided to treat me with the prescription meds. 

I was reluctant to this because I don't have symptoms of hypothyroidism except for fatigue during the day.  I always attributed that fatigue to running 50+ miles a week but it's possible that my thyroid could be contributing. I generally don't like taking medication unless absolutely necessary, but I agreed to try it. After having been on it for over a month, I realized (through internet articles) that it wasn't like a vitamin/supplement. Once you are on it, you likely need to be on it for life. It's the same thyroid hormone your body makes naturally and you become dependent on the pill for that hormone. Yikes. Thankfully I haven't had any adverse side effects and I am feeling really good. So for now I will continue with it.

Back to the race. I arrived an hour before race start because I still had to register. I registered and then got in line for the porta potties. The line was not moving at all. After standing there for about 5-10 minutes, someone realized that nobody was coming out of the porta potties and they were actually locked with zip ties! And then it took awhile to find someone who could cut the zip ties. I was happy I got in line when I did because the line behind me was massive. 

I then went back to my car and pinned on my bib and took my UCAN gel. I texted Cheryl and she said she was headed my way. She had picked out green shorts and a red sports bra due to the Cinco De Mayo theme. I matched with the exact same green shorts and red bra! We looked so cute together! 

We warmed up for just under a mile. Normally I would warm up for at least 15 minutes, but I wasn't taking this race very seriously! We did some strides and that got the legs moving. I decided to wear my adidas Adios Pro running shoes because I needed whatever boost in speed I could get. And those are my fastest shoes. 

Race Purpose
So if I wasn't going to be racing at 100% effort, why was I there? Lots of reasons:

  • Could not resist the perfect 50-degree low-humidity low-wind weather
  • Wanted to spend time with Cheryl
  • Missed the racing atmosphere and wanted to be part of it
  • Wanted run my first tempo since the Houston Marathon
At the start line I decided my goal would be to let Cheryl set the pace and try to keep up with her. I had no idea what kind of speed I had in me, and I had no idea if I would be able to keep up! But I decided I would try to keep up so long as I wasn't killing myself to do it.

Mile 1: 6:55
Cheryl went out harder than expected! My initial thought was that there was NO WAY I would be doing this for 3.1 miles. This was probably because I didn't have a sufficient warm up so it was really a shock to my system. But after a few minutes I settled in and felt decent. The best part about this race was that our outfits matched! We got a lot of comments on our outfits and it was fun trying to keep up with someone who was wearing my same gear. 

Mile 2: 6:55
She was so consistent with her pacing. The course was mostly flat with some minor inclines and declines. Nothing that I would consider a "hill" -- just some gentle slopes. It was not easy keeping up with her, she was running really strong. But I felt like it was manageable. 

Mile 3: 7:15
The headline here is a bit misleading. About a quarter into this mile, my shoelace came undone, just like in Houston! They came untied despite the double knot. This was a different pair than the Houston pair and I tied them super tightly. But I really should have tucked the loops under. Never before has this happened to me in a race and now it has happened twice in a row. 

So I stopped to tie my shoe. It was annoying and Cheryl would now be way ahead of me. Once the shoe was securely tied, I slowly closed the gap between Cheryl. Strava credits me with a 7:02 mile, meaning I spent 13 seconds tying my laces: PRETTY FAST LACE TIE!

Last 0.18: 6:19 pace
While I had been gradually closing the gap during the last mile, I really hammered it during the final stretch in order to be able to finish with Cheryl. It was fun to kick it really hard at the end, and I finished one second behind her. 

After the Race
Cheryl finished in 22:16 and I finished in 22:17. This meant we were 2nd and 3rd overall females! I won a $40 Visa gift card which was exactly the cost of the race registration, so it all evened out!  And then we went out for brunch afterwards. 

This race reminded me why I love racing so much. It's the atmosphere, my friends, the outfits, the energy, and winning age group awards!

I was pleasantly surprised that I could run as fast as I did an have it feel like a tempo, not a race. This means that my "off season" has not been detrimental to my fitness and I've still got it!

Greg, aka my race photographer, was unable to come because he had to work. He's on a new project and he's been working weekends. I think things should be easing up soon for him though!