Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Running Event: Indie 5k

2-3 mile w/u + strides
Target: win
Actual: 5th place, 17:05
3-4 mile c/d
Total: ~10 miles

If you've never been to The Running Event, it really is difficult to describe. I've heard it labeled the four most important days of the year in the running industry, which is debatable. One thing is certain, however; there's really no other event within the span of a year that brings together everyone involved in the business of running, from local independent retailers and their employees to brand reps to media outlets to elite runners. Hell, even's Wejo made the trip down to Austin for a few days. Regardless of your purpose or perspective, most attendees view TRE as the confluence of a lot of work, a little bit of running, even less sleep, and drinking. Lots of drinking. All of this makes it all the more remarkable that the Indie 5k, a quiet, non-prize money race open only to TRE participants and held at the crack of dawn on a super hilly course on a weekday morning, is arguably one of the most competitive per capita races in the country.

Last year, no one was as surprised as me to see myself crowned the "Fastest Vendor in America" with a relatively pedestrian 17:22 winning time. This year, despite marathon fatigue still lingering in my legs, I hoped to repeat my title. Having done practically nothing faster than a jog since my 5k cross-country outing the day after Thanksgiving, I wasn't super optimistic. My already tepid confidence waned even further as I spotted at least a handful of other legit-looking women on the starting line. Not wanting to endure his own soul-crushing defeat at the hands of Bobby Mack, Mike Morgan, Andrew Leatherby and who knows how many other ridiculously fit guys (some companies actually fly in their ringers for the sole purpose of earning bragging rights at the race), Jordan gamely offered to drag me along. I had no idea if it would help from a physical perspective, but I was hardly in a position to say no.

To be honest, I could share a minute-by-minute recap of the race, but I'd rather not. Not because it's particularly embarrassing, but merely because there's nothing exciting about detailing the myriad ways that every passing minute felt harder and crappier than the previous one. Simply put, I'm tired. And, despite my refusal to admit it, sick. I knew that going in, and I still pushed as hard as I could, but there was really nothing more for me to give.

The irony, of course, is that I ran over 15 seconds faster than last year, essentially tying my 5k road PR in the process, and yet still finished in an underwhelming 5th place. (The results above are split into three categories; manufacturers (i.e., brands like Karhu), retailers (running store employees), and owners (store and manufacturer owners). Technically I could've still retained my title of "fastest retailer in America" had I won the manufacturer category and still lost overall, but as it happens the top 1-5 women all hailed from the same category. Awesome.)

Going into this race, my only goal was to win. Afterward, however, I was more bummed that I'd once again come so close to dipping below 17 minutes on the road and yet still fallen short. I immediately asked Jordan if I could hop into a faster, flatter road race back home in Boston before the end of the year, a notion he instantly shot down. My season, says the coach, is over.

I'm not going to lie; I pouted for a few unattractive seconds. Then we jogged back to the hotel with men's winner and fellow North Carolinian Bobby Mack, and then I spread the gospel of Karhu and Craft all day, and then I cultivated a raging hangover for the following morning courtesy of the Brooks party and all the free booze on the expo floor. And maybe this was just the cheap white wine talking, but by the end of the day the Indie 5k was already a distant memory.


stan said...

Glad to see that you consider yourself a North Carolinian. Great running!

Pearson said...

Hi Meagan! I am one of Jeff's athletes and loved hearing your story this morning as I plodded along on a recovery post-marathon run. It is always refreshing to hear about non-collegiate athletes who have worked hard to continue to run (at the speed of light) while maintaining a 'real world' job. Like you, I am in a similar marketing position and travel around setting up booth promoting, the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Definitely a good avenue to be able to race throughout the nation and in warmer climates than winter WY. Congrats on the Philly race, a true inspiration. Just wanted to drop in and let you know that your running story can inspire!