Monday, November 15, 2010

NFL Fit For Life 5K Recap

The 5K I ran this weekend was probably one of the most low key races I've ever done. The registration was $5. You picked up your bib on the day of the race. It wasn't timed. There was no line for the porta-potties.

My friend Tracy mentioned the NFL Fit For Life 5K to me a few weeks ago and wanted to know if it would work in my marathon training plan.

Saturday I had 8 miles on the schedule, so I woke up early, ran five and made it to the race in plenty of time.

I went into this race just wanting to have a good time. I wasn't planning on breaking any records. I knew there would be lots of families with kids, plus it was a week before my marathon. I wasn't going to do anything stupid.

The race didn't start until 10:15, a strange time, but it left for plenty of time for pictures before it started. The race was sponsored by the NFL and the Redskins. Tracy and Marianne are both Redskins fans...I obviously am not. (In fact, I'm pretty sure the Eagles will beat the Redskins on MNF tonight)

Thumbs down for the Redskins
Thumbs down for the Redskins

Girls before the start
Before the start

Unfortunately, because this was a first time event, it was horribly unorganized. No one could find the start line until a general mass of people headed off in one direction. We followed and ended up in a mass crowd.

Big crowd
No one knows where to go

Apparently someone was making an announcement for the runners to stay left and the walkers to stay right, but no one could hear a thing.

We eventually squeezed through the crowds and found a spot where we could finally see the start line.

Start line in the distance
You can sort of see the start line way in the distance

Start line
Start line

A horn blew and we were off.

The course started off on nicely paved roads at the National Harbor, but then it turned on to a running path that followed the water. This is where the race went straight to hell.

The path was horribly narrow and full of tire tracks, so the footing was very uneven. Add to the poor conditions that people were running with dogs on leashes and their two-seater baby joggers, and you can probably imagine just how much of a mess things were.

I tried to be careful on the running path, passing when I could, but more just watching my footing so I didn't get hurt.

I was so happy when we were off the path and back on pavement. I picked up a lot of speed and was starting to really enjoy the race until the lead runner passed me, followed by several others and I realized the course was an out and back and we'd have to run on that path again.

I tried not to worry about it and instead focused on picking up lost time on solid ground. I passed a lot of people and just coasted down a long hill watching Garmin and seeing my pace drop lower and lower. At one point it was hovering around 7:30.

When I got back to the path, it was even worse than the first time because the walkers had started. There were tons of them and the runners were forced to go single file over very, very unstable areas.

At one point some walker with a stroller decided she didn't want to do the whole race and pushed her stroller right in front of the little girl in front of me. The girl stopped, I barely stopped, and the lady with the stroller got an earful. Both the little kid and I almost bit it.

Eventually things started to thin out and we were backed on paved ground again. I'm not sure if it was my rage over having almost suffered injury because of a mom with a stroller or if I just wanted to finish and get off this god-forsaken course, but I ran the last mile in 8:22.

Finishing the race
Determined to pass the lady in pink

Passing the lady in pink
Success!

According to Garmin, my average pace for the whole race was 8:54. I kicked butt.

So did Tracy and Marianne.

Marianne's final kick
Marianne's final kick

Tracy about to finish
Tracy about to finish

This could have been a really great, fun race. I'm disappointed that it was overshadowed by such horrible conditions. The course was really unsafe. There's no way I would run this race again unless the race director made some major changes.

Things that need to change:

  • New course that doesn't include that path
  • Ban strollers and dogs
  • More powerful bull horn so people can hear directions
  • Don't make the course an out and back unless it's wide enough to accommodate runners and walkers

As always, thanks to Matt for coming along and taking awesome pictures.

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