On the Fireball 5k and Taking Sunday Off Because I’ve Earned It

It’s late Sunday morning. I’m still in my jams. Usually by this time I have gone out for a LSD run, had a shower, started laundry, maybe even have read a little. But today all I’ve accomplished is sleeping past 9:00, cooked bacon and egg sliders for breakfast and have had two cups of coffee. No LSD run this week and while that kind-of bums me out, I certainly feel as though I’ve earned this day off.

Despite the rain we’ve gotten every day this week – especially in the morning, I was able to get in three runs this week. The first two (4 miles on Tuesday, 2 miles on Wednesday) were great for getting my mind off of stuff. I’ve finally hit that point where I use running to de-stress and to think. I never thought I’d get there but here I am, a year after starting, and I say “I need to go run” when I’m feeling tense or agitated. Go figure.

While those two runs were, indeed, therapeutic, they also filled me with false hope. For the Pilot Fireball Moonlite Classic 5k was this week routing through the UT campus in beautiful downtown Knoxville and I was ready to rock it and earn a new PR for 5k. My PR up until this point was the 33:10 at the Zen Evo Chocolate Lovers Valentine 5k back in February and I hit the 5k mark in just over 31 minutes during my 4-mile run on Tuesday. On Wednesday, though I only ran two miles, I was averaging just over a 10-minute mile. All signs were pointing to a strong improvement over my previous PR, all thanks, presumably, to my 10k training. My goal was set at finishing Friday night in less than 32 minutes.

So when we showed up at campus on Friday evening (the race started at 9pm) I was juiced. I had been to the gym that morning, a regular power-hour at Title Boxing Club, but had since gotten in a nap, had taken it easy most of the day, and had eaten light but plenty in the form of baked chicken, fruit, and bread. I also had a shot of my amino supplement during the car ride downtown. I was ready. When it was time to line up at the start I was jumping around, ready to come out of my skin. They counted down, we started and…uphill we went.

According to Runtastic the first mile of the course was all uphill, 95ft increase as a matter of fact, no decrease. Wasn’t a huge deal, though, as I did this in 10:26, well on my way to that PR goal I had set for myself. Mile two also increased elevation by 19ft but decreased by 137ft, hence why this was my fast mile, finishing it in 10:08. A sub 32-minute PR was mine for the taking, I knew it, so I pushed hard during the last lap, another elevation increase of 29ft, a mere 3ft decrease. Or at least I thought I was pushing hard. Runtastic shows a turtle by that lap indicating it was my slowest. It would be 10:57 before the voice indicated I had hit the 3 mile mark. At this point I was already past the 31 minute mark, nearing 32 minutes and still had a tenth of a mile left. This is when I did something really stupid.

This was my sixth race in my running career. Nowhere near the number of races as my more seasoned running peers but enough to know that the clock at the finish line indicates the time from the starting gun, the race overall, where I’m only concerned with my chip time. When I had the Finish line in my sights I saw the clock read 33 minutes and change and I was hit with such a huge blow of disappointment it nearly took all the air out of my lungs. I didn’t make the sub-32 minute mark like I had planned – I had failed. I ran through the finish but basically at a steady trot. I shouted “SHIT!” as I crossed the line and realized I had, at long last, become one of those people that curse at their time when they finish.

I was heartbroken, I was tired, I was angry, and I was dripping sweat thanks to the 90%+ humidity. For real, the back of my shirt was dripping sweat onto my calves – I thought someone was dripping water off of their iced rally towel the race had graciously provided to finishers. I waited for my friends to finish, drank some water, had some Powerade, helped myself to some snacks after the race and sat on a wall slowly eating some Rita’s Italian Ice. I didn’t enjoy any of it. I let Erin finish my Rita’s and left the majority of my snacks in my pocket. My final time was 33:05.

And it wasn’t until I sat down to write this blog that I realized that was, actually, still a PR by a whole 5 seconds. Not much but it counts and it’s now the number to beat. I was feeling pathetic and down on myself and just like a child I included a “failure” message with my time on Facebook. My bro Alli’s Aunt B commented that finishing isn’t a failure and she’s right. I didn’t hit sub-32 like I was hoping for but I finished another 5k – my 6th one this year. Last year I was fat, out of shape and was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. Back then I was lucky to run a quarter mile. Finishing another 5k is, indeed, not a failure. Having goals are important and competing with yourself is healthy but it’s also important and healthy to remember the road you’ve been on and accept that some runs are better than others.

I’ve also learned that if your wife is near the finish line yelling at you to keep pushing it’s best to listen to her and not half-ass across the finish because that may help you get at least sub-33 minutes. Today I’ll just accept 33:05 for better or for worse.

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I intended to take Saturday off and then long run today but it wasn’t meant to be. I’ve been meaning to cut this tree down on the side of my house for a few weeks now and even opted to buy an ax instead of a chainsaw reasoning that I wanted the exercise an ax would provide over a chainsaw. While I can’t honestly say I regret that decision, I’ll just say that I’m sitting here with sore forearms, hands, shoulders, and back. My legs and feet were sore from the race but they quickly shut up once the rest of my body began shouting about how bad they were feeling. I spent the rest of the day doing laundry, making pizzas that I can’t talk about because they’re a secret, and drinking Bud Heavy because it was America day. Odin bless it.

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I’ll end with a once-more updated table of distance stats as we approach the one year running and 300 miles mark. For my own reference I’ve also included my race times for this year. 21 runs remain!

Time Period Total Distance
Couch-to-5k (8/14-10/14) 64.59 Miles
Runtastic Runs (10/14-4/15) 115.04 Miles
5k-to-10k to-date (4/15-6/21) 87.52 Miles
Runtastic Runs (6/23-present) 19.67 Miles

Total Miles Ran To-Date: 286.82 Miles

Miles Left Until 300: 13.18

Number of Miles Per Run to Reach Yearly Goal*: 0.63

This is assuming I run three days per week every week until the week of 8/14/2015

Race Times

Race Time
Knoxville Hot to Trot 5k 2014 35:08
Calhoun’s New Year’s Day 5k 2015 No official time
Zen Evo Chocolate Lover’s Valentine’s 5K 2015 33:10
Barley’s St. Patrick’s Day 5k 2015 34:34
Covenant Health 5k 2015 33:39
Pilot Fireball Moonlite Classic 5k 33:05
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One thought on “On the Fireball 5k and Taking Sunday Off Because I’ve Earned It

  1. A PB, well done! As I typed that I was thinking I have been saying that to you a lot lately. Failure my arse. Turning Type 2 diabetes around is the greatest achievement of them all and you are absolutely right to go back and remember that. just look at how your 5k times are coming down at a steady rate. Mine just seem to be going up lately

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