Friday, November 30, 2007

PVTC Cranberry Crawl 5k

I ran this race on a bit of a whim. My pal Jon and I were looking for a race to do near Thanksgiving and this fit the bill nicely. The location was in between our homes and the price was just right - $5. No t-shirt, no ChampionChip, no fancy after party. Just a good old-fashioned road race. I want a few goodies now and then, but the no frills races are nice too. Low key, smaller turnout, and a bit of a seasoned crowd. The runners aren't necessarily faster or better than you find in the bigger races, but they are much more old school for the most part and I can really appreciate that.

So, in the wee hours of a cold Saturday morning, I put on some ratty running gear and meet Jon over at Belle Haven Park for this thing. I did get some coffee before leaving the house, of course. I can't run a race without coffee. Well, I can't do anything in the morning without a big cup of coffee.

The race crowd was on the small side and we couldn't tell who was running the 5k or the 10k (both races started at the same time and you just turned around early if you were running the 5k). The race director, or at least the old guy announcing things, was hard to hear and really made no attempt to speak up. So, Jon and I gathered in the start area only because we saw everybody else doing it. And, we only started running because everybody else started running. The race went down a paved, two lane path, with just enough room for three people or so across. And, even though there was a race going on, they didn't close off access to the path to other people, so it was a bit of a challenge to stay on our side of the path and still make headway through the pack of runners ahead of me. I ran until I found my spot between a few runners and just kept going. I felt okay to the turnaround, but I could tell I didn't have much gas and I couldn't hold a sub 7:00 pace through the run back to the start. I didn't care too much, frankly, since I didn't expect much from this race and was just doing it for fun. And, as I closed in on the finish, I realized there just wasn't anyone around me. So, since I couldn't catch anyone and nobody was going to catch me, I didn't even bother to run hard. And for my mediocre effort, I still did alright.

I hung around waiting for Jon and then we proceeded to say fairly negative things about the racewalkers whenever they were out of earshot. Yes, we are jerks. But you have to admit that racewalking is pretty ridiculous.

Did I mention it was cold? My hands hurt because I had no damn gloves and my lungs were just burning at the end. As Jon put it, we could just taste the blood. When I run hard in cold weather, I often have to cough for a long time after. But, as the winter continues, I get acclimated to the cold and it doesn't bother me anymore. I just need to keep running outside.

In the end, it was a nice race and a good way to kickoff the holiday week that was coming up. Not a PR, but my first "win" of sorts. I placed second in my age group, 30-39, and walked away with a cranberry walnut bread from Bloom. The sticker on the bread said $4.99, so I almost made back my $5 registration fee. I'd call that a pretty fair deal. And you can now refer to me as the Cranberry Crawl 5k 30-39 Runner-up, if you please.

PVTC Cranberry Crawl 5k Bib #169
Alexandria, VA
November 17, 8:00 am

Time: 22:37
Overall Place: 13/57
Gender Place: 8/28
Pace: 7:17

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