Jingle in July (or how I was fooled into thinking it was cool running underground)

The Blonde and I ran in the Jingle in July 5k Run Walk yesterday. It was billed as a cool underground 5k in the middle of July.  We figured we were good to go since we had so many hot days this year.  Our other choice was the Glow Run.  From the sounds of it, that was a pretty hot, large, disorganized race. So we were kind of glad we didn’t do that one.

We did our packet pick up on Saturday at the race location vs. race day.  The reason we did that was to figure out where the heck we were going.  It was three miles from our house and we never even knew the place existed.  That is the problem with those darn caves, you can’t see them when you drive by or on google maps.

The race organizers kept restating that parking was limited and to get there early.  Race time was 9AM.  We got there at 7:30AM.  We were some of the first people there.  We got there too early.

There was a nice mini expo there.  We saw Santa getting a free back massage at the massage booth.  There were tables with cups of water and sports drink set up where we were sitting. I did not partake.  That was a mistake I suffered the effects of later.

Cell phone coverage does not work in a cave.  As expected, neither did my GPS. 🙁 We sat around for quite a while.  It is amazing how even for a little community run / walk (800 or so if they were lucky) I still get that nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach. Just to distract myself prerace, I ended up outside of the cave playing with my phone.

About 30 minutes before the start of the race, the announcer was giving five minute updates on when the race was going to start.  Some of these announcements included fast runners up front and walkers in the back.  Also walkers who were only doing one lap (did I mention there were laps) should not cross the finish line so they don’t screw up the finish times for the 5kers. These instructions were then consistently ignored.

My weapons of choice for this race were my Saucony Kinvara 2’s (review coming shortly).  I debated between this and some of my more minimalist shoes.  I am glad I picked these in the end due to the course not being quite as flat as I was led to believe!

As we lined up, we could feel the heat coming from the cave entrance.  Did I mention I ignored the liquids and was sitting around for 1.5 hours?  I just figured once we got away from the entrance the temps would cool down to the advertised 68 degrees.  No problem.

We lined up moderately near the front.  I figured I was going to break 25:00.  Cool and flat, right? As we looked around we saw several people near us that didn’t understand English apparently.  One woman was five feet behind us with two walking poles.

We got down to the one minute countdown and…  They delayed it.  Not sure what was going on.  Sounded like they had a last minute registration or something they were trying to push through. Again, it was not really a competitive race, but I was ready to get going.

Finally, the siren went off and we got through the start.  I started my MotoActv in indoor mode for the first time.  That would be interesting. After about a 1/4 mile people started to finally filter out.  As expected, way too many people pushed up front and my slow ass had to negotiate around people.  It finally started to cool down as we ran further into the cave.

I took off  pretty quickly once I got going.  Again, I figured flat, cool, go balls out.  My GPS was not working as I mentioned.  For some reason, I also could not get my HR to display.  So, I was just running.  I had a 180 bpm podrunner podcast going so I was just trying to go with that.

At some point, my MotoActv told me “Congratulations!  You just ran your quickest mile at 5:30.” At that point I started laughing as I knew I wasn’t even close, so I just gave up trying to use it and just listened to the music.

As we got to the back of the cave it got hot again, WTF? It felt like there was exhaust air pushing out.  And it was dry.  Ugh, I could feel my mouth drying up.  We turned the corner and headed back to the front of the cave.

Did I mention it was a two loop race?  I figured they were just going to have us run by the start again as part of the loop.  Oh no.  I turned the corner and there was daylight.  Huhh??  Oh crap, there is a hill.

So, the funny thing about this cave, is it is under a hill.  Imagine that. Because of that, you have to drive down the hill to get to the entrance.  Oh wait, there are two entrances on both sides of the hill.  We were coming out of the other one, running up the hill, running down the hill, and back into the cave.  And when I say hill, I mean a steep hill.  No problem, I thought, I train on hills.  I took the initial hill with no problem.  However, it is a bit of shock when you are running indoors and suddenly burst outdoors into the light.

At this point, I could really feel my mouth drying out.  Fortunately, as I reentered the cave there were some young ladies handing out water. I grabbed one and mumbled thanks.  I think I got about half a cup in my mouth.  I continued on with my pace going back through the hot and cold areas.

At this point, I started to pass the walkers.  I saw a sweet older couple with their canes out walking.  Then the next person I saw was the woman with the two walking poles.  Glad that starting position gave her a competitive advantage.  😉

As I turned the corner for the second time, I started coming across a lot of the walkers.  Some of them cheered the runners on, which I appreciated and gave a thumbs up. At this point, my dehydration kicked in and I started cramping up. I could feel my pace start to slow.  I was keeping up with my cadence, but I had to shorten my stride.

At this point I heard a flop, flop, flop. I figured it was some guy I had passed earlier in the race who had horrible form.  I looked over and didn’t see anything.  I looked down and saw a little blonde head.  Crap, I was getting passed by little kid (according to the finish times, he was 9 years old)! Must be nice to have unlimited energy and zero body fat.  I then got passed by another guy I had passed a couple of minutes ago.

At this point, my stomach cramps were pretty bad, but there was no way I was going to stop.  Here came the dreaded hill.  I made my way up it.  Again, we train on hills and I am pretty comfortable going up one.  What always sucks for me is going down hills.  I made my way down the other side, but I couldn’t get any speed going.

At this point, I entered the cave and turned to the finish line.  Normally, I would sprint the finish, but I couldn’t get going any faster.  I ended up getting passed by someone at the end.  I was getting ready to pass a couple of middle-aged women who were walking, but then they decided they were going to jog.  They went over the finish line.  Remember when I said the MC was telling people who were walking one lap not to cross the finish line… Yeah…

I crossed the finish line and hit the stop button on my MotoActv.  Both it and the race clock said 24 something or other.  At that point, I didn’t care.  I just wanted something to drink. I got a couple of glasses of liquid.  I turned around and watched The Blonde kick some ass accelerating across the finish line.

We hung out for five minutes or so and then headed home.  That afternoon The Blonde started to tell me my finish stats.  Turns out I was first in my age group.  Holy Crap!  Of course, there were only eight of us, but who is counting? And I am still ignoring the nine year old who passed me. And we will ignore all of the walkers who disobeyed the instructions and went over the finish line throwing the overall placements off.

Anyways, I ended up with a 24:13, which was a PR and almost a two minute improvement over my Hospital Hill 5k a month and a half earlier.  So, I was pretty happy with that. If I had not cramped up, I think I could have knocked 25-30 seconds off of that time.  So, I have room for improvement in the future.

16. July 2012 by TheBald
Categories: Race Report, Running | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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