Saturday, May 21, 2011

Great Harvest 5k

3 mile w/u + strides
Target: win some Great Harvest Bread, then 3xmile on the greenway w/3 mins. jog
Actual: 17:44; 5:39, 5:38, 2:38 for 800m
1 mile c/d
Total: ~10 miles

Last year Jordan and I had a blast running the Great Harvest 5k and winning plenty of free baked goods to boot. Because I am a fat kid trapped inside a skinny kid's body, I knew I couldn't pass up the opportunity to do the same this year. Plus, the race was taking place just down the road from the TrySports grand re-opening where I'd be hosting a group run later in the morning
(which sounded like a much better idea in theory than after actually running a workout and a race), so there was really no reason not to participate.

As I warmed up on the first mile of the course with Billy, Paul and Eric, I came to the sobering realization that the course was much, much hillier than I remembered. To be honest I could recollect very little about the course from last year, and I'd sort of assumed that everyone who complained about its excessive hilliness were just being big babies. It didn't take long this morning for me to admit that they were correct. The first mile started on an uphill grade and only got worse from there, its difficulty further exacerbated by the number and frequency of sharp turns. I made the game time decision to consciously be conservative on the first half of the course so that I could truly run a "tempo" effort and save something for the mile repeats I had planned for afterward.

I have to say, standing on the starting line of a RFYL Grand Prix race without Jordan by my side was a little strange. For at least the millionth time in the past month I wished he were there with me, but fortunately I was still surrounded by a solid group that included Rebecca, Michelle, Danielle, Alice, Lat and several others. The clock ticked past 7:30 as we waited for a tardy Mike Moran to scramble over to the starting line, and then we were off into the morning sunshine. I found myself pulling up
alongside Billy and Chad, both of whom I knew would be running close to 17-flat, and was surprised to see them starting so conservatively. For a few minutes I had inclinations to surge ahead, but then I reminded myself that they would be picking up the pace soon enough and it would serve me well to try to hang on then. Sure enough, just before the mile marker Chad kicked into another gear--they probably split 5:40ish to my 5:44--and before long I had another companion, my warmup buddy Eric. For the rest of the race he and I would work together, occasionally exchanging the lead but otherwise matching each other stride for stride. The second mile came and went quickly due to its mostly downhill nature--I split a controlled 5:41--but the final mile meant several long uphill sections as we retraced our steps toward the finish. With about 800 to go I could see John Fillette almost imperceptibly moving backwards toward us, and I quietly encouraged Eric to focus on John's back and reel him in. (John, if you're reading this, it was all in the spirit of friendly competition!) Sure enough, as we rounded the final uphill turn into the parking lot (who decided that was a good idea??) Eric took off and pulled up alongside John. I finished a few seconds later, more exhausted than I'd hoped to be and pretty happy to be done. I'd originally planned to take just five minutes before starting my mile repeats, but I could tell right away that there was no way I'd be recovered by then. Instead I took about 10 minutes to cheer in some friends, guzzle about a gallon of water and wring out my sweat-soaked shirt before begrudgingly making my way down to the adjacent greenway. (As a side note, how is the greenway so flat when the nearby neighborhoods are so hilly?? I liked Danielle's suggestion earlier today of running an alternate Great Harvest course out and back along the greenway--sure, it might be a tad congested, but it's still bound to produce speedier times!)

Top 4 women: me, Alice, Michelle and Danielle, Photo courtesy of
Danielle (and Chad) Crockford

Originally I'd made tentative plans to round up Johnny C. (the decisive men's winner), Alice (female runner-up) and Lat (her trusty sidekick) to bang out these repeats with me. When the time came, however, I couldn't spot John anywhere and failed in my repeated attempts to get Alice and Lat's attention. Rather than extending my recovery even longer, I opted to begin by myself. The first two intervals went surprisingly well; as expected, my legs felt fatigued, but my breathing was controlled and I never felt like I was straining to hit the pace. If anything, the biggest obstacle was the congestion from other runners and walkers, cyclists and people cooling down from the race. Tired and thirsty, I'd already decided to cut out the final repeat when I ran into my race partner Eric cooling down. He agreed to help lead me through a final 800 and did a great job of keeping the tempo honest when all I wanted to do was sit down and take a break. We finished up just in time to jog back over to the race site for the awards. As expected, I received the awesome prize of Great Harvest bread and cookies and a set of Great Harvest oven mitts. These will make a great addition to the apron and chef's hat I won last year for all those hours I spend slaving away in the kitchen.


jfilly86 said...

Meagan!!! haha, so I was running backwards huh!? just kidding. great race recap and furthermore congrats on winning again. fast runners like yourself and Eric are great to compete against. I hope to see you both at the summer Gpx.. keep up the great writing! -John F.

Also, so sorry to hear about your family in MO. I hope everything turns out okay. keep us posted please.