I’m glad I didn’t train specifically for this event or have any significant running-related goals. Steena (@AHappyPace) laughed at my goal of avoiding “heat stroke” but apparently the race organizers were even more concerned. At 6:00 am this morning they sent out this email:
IMPORTANT INFORMATION–TODAY’S LHH RACE IS BEING CHANGED TO A TIMED 5K
Good morning runners and walkers in the 21st Lawyers Have Heart Race and Fun Walk.
This morning at 5 am, we determined that because of the combination of high heat and humidity and for YOUR SAFETY today’s LHH 10K race is being changed to a 5K race. We will be running the first half of today’s planned course. The 5K race will still be timed. This determination has been made in partnership with our medical advisors and the DC government for your safety. We thank you for your understanding.I
I already was at the race, getting ready for my Comcast interview about why I was running and fundraising for the American Heart Association this year. I was bummed for about 30 seconds, but knew that they probably were making the right decision. Personally, I knew the shorter distance would be better for me. I still wasn’t sure about my knee, and the sore throat that snuck up on me on Thursday took a firm hold last night.
Since it was an out-and-back-course, they just cut it in half –That means the race consisted mostly of the darn Whitehurst Freeway!
I met up with a friend, and we jogged for a few minutes to warm-up. We lined up towards the back of the 8:00–9:00 min/mile group, because she didn’t want to be ahead of her pace group, and wouldn’t believe me when I told her that it didn’t really matter. (She runs regularly, but doesn’t race very often.)
Although the announcer kept telling us that the start would be promptly at 7:30, that was just when he started the official program announcements. After a very nice rendition of the National Anthem, there was a wheelchair start for the one wheelchair athlete, and then the “first wave” start for “elite” runners and those lined up for an under 8:00 min/mile pace. Even though I wasn’t that far back from the front of the “second wave” group, we started out walking. And, even though I had been checking my Garmin to make sure it stayed “awake,” when I looked at it to hit “start” when I crossed the starting line, it had gone into “sleep” mode. It took longer than usual to get it started again because it had a hard time “locating satellites” under the Freeway. So, my Garmin was not going to be useful for my total race time, but I still used it to monitor my pace.
Even with the two wave start, it stayed really crowded for a while. I made it up K Street, around the hairpin turn onto the Whitehurst Freeway and even along the Freeway for a while before I could run at my own pace without weaving around people. Clearly, there were many runners who were not as considerate as my friend when they decided where to line up !
My Garmin pace for the first almost-mile it was working (from when I got it started to mile 1 of the course) was 13:25. Now that is a crowded start! My other (full mile) split times were 8:20 and 8:11. (This is one reason I don’t like 5Ks–there’s not enough time/distance to make up for a crowded start.)
I was running hard, but held back a bit in view of the heat–not to mention my sore throat. By the end of the freeway, I realized that my knee was not going to be an issue-yay!
I didn’t need the water stop that came after mile 1 since I had my own Gatorade, but I gratefully took a sponge soaked in icy water, squeezed some on my hat, and squeezed the rest down my back. Last year was the first year they had the sponges, and I think it’s a great idea. I grabbed another sponge and did the same thing on the way back.
Crossing the Whitehurst Freeway for the second time is much easier at mile 2-3 than it is at mile 5-6! I kept my pace solid, but held back until I could see the traffic light that marks the end of the Freeway. I tried to find a clear route for the hairpin turn, but there was a guy walking right in the middle of the lane. Argh! I don’t think I cussed at him out loud . . . .
Once I was back on K Street and heading for the finish, I kicked it up a notch. Still, those last three blocks seemed to take a long time. As I was sprinting, I had to dodge a woman who was running with a dog. Seriously? I did say something out loud to her, but not the profanity I was thinking. (I don’t think she ran the race with the dog, but maybe she was running along to finish with a friend?)
Since I knew that both the race clock and my Garmin time weren’t going to be accurate, I didn’t really worry about my finish time. I kept walking for a while after the finish area to cool down, and then made my way back through the crowds to find my husband.
According to the LHH website, my chip time was 25:49–not bad for a hot, crowded 5K!
Do we need to add a 5K disclaimer to the finisher medal?
I like how the woman is ahead in the t-shirt logo!
Have you ever had to adopt to a last-minute race course change?
What is your favorite race distance?