Monday, September 27, 2010

Guelph 5k - Race Report

Race: Meridian-Credit-Union-Sponsored Guelph CHC 5k
Date: Saturday, September 25, 2010
Location: Downtown Guelph Ontario, population 115,000.
Weather: drizzle turning to partly cloudy,  12°C (54°F) 
Scheduled Start Time: 8:45
Runner: Andrew Opala
Information: 45, Male

I lay out my stuff the night
before so that it's all visible
on the floor of my office.  
Pre-Race: I plan to be at the race at least 15 mins. before registration begins to pickup my bib and goody bag.
I pick up the goody bag and all the
volunteers seem to be a lot more
nervous than me! (picture taken later)

We arrive race morning at 7:15 a.m.  An appropriate iPod Touch playlist of 150 BPM songs has been created and synced to the player.

There's construction in the city, and the directions are not clear and I'm (selfishly) worried the rest of my family won't make the journey to be there for the start of my race.  A lot of my family arrives and I'm shocked and confused.  My family, nieces, nephews and in-laws have made shirts up for the race!  (writing this now I'm teary-eyed).  They also make a big poster that absolutely EVERYONE can see!

8:30: organizers call everyone to take positions behind the start line, and to check to make sure our ankle bands with the RFIDs are on and in place firmly.  I'm trying to listen to the instructions, ask people around me what speed they run at to find a good location in the pack, fiddle with my iPod and then I hear my family yelling at me from the sidewalk.

"3" "2" "1" HOOOORN: It's 8:45 am and the race has started, I nod down to make sure my wrist time is ready for when I cross the start line - it takes about 20 seconds to get to it from where I am in the pack.

  1. I run with the pack (very tight around three turns going up hill), my strategy is to run this up-hill portion easy and make it to the 1k mark in 6:26.  This is my training speed for a similar slope and I know this will need to be taken slowly for me to have enough energy at the end.  I'm feeling tired - and I'm getting disappointed.  My heart is averaging 154 - way over alarm zone.  Way over.   
  2. My first split time taken from memory on the map needs to be slower than 6:26.  I press the button on the watch 6:05 - am I effing kidding myself - I'm screwing up this race already - I trained for 11 weeks - so many people cheering for me - wishing me well - I'm friggen wrecking it already - I shouldn't have taken those three days off and should not have tapered down - I should have ran a normal 30k per week - F**K!
  3. People are passing me now with little courtesy - don't you guys know I'm a first timer!  Show me some respect I'm getting really really down on myself.  I'm still very tired and there is no way I can keep up with these faster people - oh wait a second my music is playing and I'm not even paying attention.  I hit the split time: 5:30 - what!  I've never ran a second split of 5:30 - never!  I'm going to be dead tired at the end - I won't even make my 32:27 training PR!
  4. I make the turn to start heading back to the start - THE ORGANIZERS HAVE CHANGED THE ROUTE!  I don't know where to take my next split - it's still level-downhill, but I'm expecting some switch-back turns to make it up the hill near the start - very very disappointed - I can see up the street and there has to be about 1.5 k of everyone in the race up ahead of me.
  5. Thinking I'm somewhere near my 3k split I press the watch again: 8:03!  I'm f**king this race up!  You g*d d**m f**king b*stard - why did you ever think you could run with the big boys in a race?  WHY!?!?
  6. I'm climbing up this hill and I see a yellow 4k marker - I press the split time: 4:26.  WHAT?  That means 8:03+4:26 = 12:29 for 2k = 6:15 for each split - HOLY SH*T that's faster than EVER!
  7. I'm alone into my last two turns - there's a young guy with a back pack clapping and yelling to me "Good job number 4-thirteen" - I smile at him and say a super ingenious comment - "I couldn't have done it without you!"  Will I have enough energy to sprint for Matty?
  8. I begin the sprint - the runners that have already finished in the last 15 minutes are eating bananas and fruit and are standing at the sides clapping. I dip me head forward, my arms start moving a little faster, I'm starting to bend more at the waste, and my legs seem to speed up, I am breathing like a poorly tuned pickup crossing the rocky mountains!  My heart alarm is flashing 95% Max HR - and it's not happy.  My ankles start to bend more and I'm leaning into the run - I start to sprint and I feel like 300 people are pushing my legs to go faster - I'm just a spectator.  I turn the corner and try to make out the time between pounding, and I hear the announcer stating the time of some runners ahead of me - this is way too fast - there must be something wrong - WHO CARES - RUN YOU DUMMY! 

I cross the line.

Clock Time: 31:40
Chip Time: 31:23 - a New PR
All the times here.  I'm number 195

I beat my training PR by 1:04.  Still panting and dry heaving, I start to walk away from the start in a daze.  Nothing hurts - I feel like my body has been taken away from me - it is very very quiet.  As I begin to catch my breathe I realize I want to go to my family - I want to tell them I am SOOO grateful for them - I am so BLESSED to have them in my life.  The Angel sent from heaven to take care of me sees me first:

This morning - 2 days later - I ran 5k.  It was easier than anything I have ever done before.  How can it be hard when so many people are with you!

I learned not to trust the emotional panicky me - but instead, to manage me like an asset to be used to achieve a goal.

Thank you everyone!  THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!!!


AnnaMac said...

This is awesome -- what a great race experience! When's the next one?

bobbi said...

YAY!! You did AWESOME! You did it!

AnnaMac said...

Oh, and congratulations!

Adrienne said...

Great Race Report! I love your family! So cool of them. I forgot to say Happy Birthday the other day so Happy Birthday. Races are a whole different bear than training runs aren't they? Hence why I am the non race runner (who sometimes runs races). Nice job--and Thank yourself--you did it!

Kandi said...

So awesome that your family came out to support you like that!

Paul said...

Just super Andrew! YOU DID IT. Great race writeup.

Ok, next race a 10k perhaps?

I had the same experience: HR monitors difficult to use with pre-race excitement...after a while you calm down and they become more useful. I don't bother with them in races anymore actually....I just run to pace and effort level.

Anyway, great job...bask in your accomplishement! a couple of days off and back to training?

Lindsey said...

What a great race report. You did such a great job, I've NEVER run a 5k that fast, I can't wait until I can!

Raegun said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Andrew. I love reading race reports. I haven't run an official/organized race since I started running again, and it is reports like this that give me the courage to believe I might try one day.

Matthew Bradford said...

My favorite moment was your first reaction once you crossed the finish-line. Such an amazing feeling that also makes me sad because I tell my wife not to come to the races and your reaction is my reaction.

Congrats, and thanks for the thoughts!

KovasP said...

Congrats on the first of many and happy belated birthday!

Rae said...

Yay! Great race report! I love how you shared what you were thinking. Had me laughing! Your family is awesome! They made shirts and a huge sign! Love it! Congratulations and Happy Belated Birthday!

Emz said...

Andrew - you rock.
And you are by far the hittest guy there. Did I mention I love your shirt?!

Congrats to you my friend!!

Patrick Mahoney said...

Love the race report, man. And finding that you find a little bit extra on race day is well within the teh competitor's ethos. I have no doubt that the mental benefits for this race will pay dividends in your training going forward...

Ther's no such thing as a finsh line so when's the next one?

ShutUpandRun said...

You write a race report like you've been doing it forever!!! Awesome, loved reading about it. What's next??? BTW, I'd love to get a list of your high BPM songs.

misszippy said...

So great! I'm really happy for you. I love all your colorful commentary too.

Where do you go from here?

The Turtle said...

That was a wonderful race report. It makes me feel better to know I'm not the only one cursing in my head throughout a race.

You have a wonderful family. I'm sure they are all really proud of your accomplishment.

Anonymous said...

The sign and the shirts ROCK!!! I've always wanted someone to make a sign for me. Awesome race. Congrats!

Unknown said...

Great job, great report. YOU ROCK!!!

Unknown said...

great job, great report. YOU ROCK!!

Julie @ HotlegsRunner said...

Awww I especially like that last picture! sweetness!

Congratulations again! =)

Matty O said...

You took my secret and executed it well haha. Leave it all out there, make it so you can't breathe as you cross the line.

It only hurts for a minute.

How awesome was that feeling when you saw your time?! Keep it up so you keep getting that feeling every time you finish :)

Zaneta @ Runner's Luck said...

So awesome Andrew!! you did GREAT!!! Congrats on the new PR!! That's so exciting!! :) I'm so excited for you! You've worked so hard for this! :)

Anonymous said...

Great job! Now the family will have to create an even BIGGER poster so you PR again!

The Boring Runner said...

Congrats!!! This is so awesome. I love that your fam was all there with a HUGE sign.

The internal struggles are always there. No matter how short/long the race is, your mind will always be fighting with something. Good for you to not let it totally blow your race.

Jill said...

Excellent race report for a well executed race! I'm teary-eyed looking at the big hug at the end, that is soooo cool. As your first official race, it is one you will never, ever forget - I'm so happy for you!!! :)

Anonymous said...

That was a great race recap. I knew it was going to have an exciting ending!! Congrats on your new PR.

Christina said...

Excellent! You have a whole entourage there giving you support. Don't you feel love? You and your family are awesome. You got my teary-eyed here. I usually race alone and sometimes, I wished someone is there to share the moment with me.
So, when's the next race?

Julie said...

You are awesome Andrew! Your race report had me in tears:) I am proud of you! Congrats on the PR!

Quinton J said...

I didn't forget you boss man! I was waiting for the full report. You trained hard and you did it! Awesome show. Just awesome.

You do realize that the 5k is a gateway run. And now that you've just learned what you're capable of AND you've got all of these new running do know what comes next right?


EMZ meant to say HOTTEST and I agree with her.


Erika said...

I loved your report! I'm pretty sure I've had that same conversation with myself during a few races! Way to totally rock your first 5k!

Alan Dent said...

Congrats! - Great run, Roll on the next one

Johann said...

Well done Andrew! Awesome race and awesome report! You did it and from here it will just get easier. You've now done something I haven't done yet, run a 5km race! Congratulations with your first race!

Pat said...

Wow! Great support from your family! I love the sign they made for you. I really enjoyed reading your report. Congratulations on your first race and Happy Birthday!

Tricia said...

whoohooo congrats!

Anonymous said...

congrats to you andrew!!

lovely blog, btw! i'm your newest fan!


Big Daddy Diesel said...


Anne-Marie said...

CONGRATS! You beat your old PR by over a minute -- that is awesome! I'm sure it was great having your family there to cheer for you!

I've learned, and I think you will too with race experience, that you can't let one bad mile/km split get you down. You have to acknowledge, "well, that sucked", then put it out of your mind and go back to focusing on your goal. Way to bounce back with that 4:26 after the 8!

can't wait to see what's next!

Heather said...

Way to go Andrew!! Congratulations! It's so great that you had so many people there to cheer you on! and their sign was awesome! Thanks for sharing your experience. You're probably hooked now and ready to sign up for something else, yeah?

Chris K said...

Nice job Grasshopper. You Cowboy'd up. And, I was there! Sorta.

Andrea said...

That is one of the best race recaps I've ever read! Nice work!! When's your next 5K?