Sunday, May 13, 2012

Race Review - Preakness 5k

I finished my first 5k!  It was far from pretty but I did it.  I'd like to remind you before I show you pictures of me dying as I cross the finish line that I only had surgery 8 weeks ago (as of tomorrow).  So keep your expectations low.

Let's start with location.  This race is set at Pimlico Race-grounds in Baltimore, MD.  For those of you not into horse racing this is where the Preakness (the second leg of the Triple Crown) is held.  The grounds are located in a very not nice neighborhood.  You can tell by the look of the row houses that gentry used to live in the area, probably when the Preakness started to be held there in 1875, but now most houses need to be torn down and many are boarded up.  It's a shame because some of the houses used to be gorgeous.  The Pimlico grounds themselves were very nice and the staff was all wonderful.

I was not running this 5k alone.  A long time friend of mine, Mary, had already signed up for this race and when I mentioned I wanted to do one she recommended it.  She offered to run it with me, even though she's in good shape and can run it much quicker than I could.  So Mary, my family and I all met up at the grounds at around 9:45am for a 10:30am start.  One of the cool little extras at this race is your race bib.  It is colored to look like a jockey's shirt and you get a horse name.

That's me Proud Bear. I think it's sort of fitting as I'm shaped like a bear and I'm definitely proud that I finished this race!

After picking up our bibs, which went off without a hitch and pretty much no wait at all we headed to the obligatory porta potty line.  There was only 8 porta potties!  I will say though the line was long we had more than enough time to get through it.

Yet another awesome thing about this race is the start line is the actual horse gates.  Since we had plenty of time before the race was to begin we took our obligatory pics in the gates.  In case you had any doubt that's me on the left and my friend Mary on the right.

Doug O'Neil, the trainer of the Kentucky Derby winner, I'll Have Another, gave a little speech before the starting gun and his team actually ran the race.  I was really impressed that we got someone like that to start the race off.
And they're off!
It took Mary and I around a minute and a half to make it through the gate, but that's fine as it gave plenty of time for people to spread out.  This course is relatively flat.  Actually it's almost completely flat except for where you go through the tunnel back onto the infield of the track.  The hard part about this track is that almost half of it is run on the actual racetrack.  This is really neat because you are running where just a week later the horses will be running the Preakness, but it's not so cool because it's sand.  They did a pretty good job packing the sand for the humans but man my butt was screaming towards the end of the lap.  Another plus is there are furlong markers on the track.  Since I am not up to running the entire thing these were very helpful with my walk and run times.

After you run the track you pass through the horse staging area then out onto the street.  This is not a well publicized race so there's no screaming hoard of fans.  Mary and I did get the cops stopping traffic to yell for us though.  It's the little things.  You run back around the ground and come in through the front gate, and this is what you see:

Just gives you a little boost to head to the back and the TUNNEL OF DOOM. . . I only call it that because it's pretty steep going in AND coming out so you end up looking like this (the tunnel is behind us but so steep you can't really see it):

Notice how Mary has not broken a sweat yet?  I decided it was okay to hate her in that moment.  You come in on the far side of the track and have to run around the infield to the other side.  As we rounded the last corner I told Mary to do her thing and she took off (you can sorta see Mary taking off and me doing my version of running behind her).

  This is her crossing the finish line:

Is she grimacing?  Nope, looks like a damned gazelle to me, but that's okay I'm not a hater.  On the other hand this is what I look like:

Death is probably a good description.  I would like to say that I felt like my legs were moving at the speed of lightning, you can tell from the first picture that is NOT the case, but I thought I was booking it.  Now I'd like to point out that though the timer says over 45 minutes it took us a while to cross the start line so my actual time is less than that (more on official results later).

After finishing we headed to get our water and snacks.  I didn't get any snacks because they were all carb laden and I don't eat carbs!  But I sure appreciated the water.  By this time though there was a good breeze and it was rather warm.  Honestly, we couldn't have asked for better weather.  Off to get our Premium we went.  LOVED the premium, a beer stein with the race logo on it:

By this point I'm starting to feel alive again.  A beer is also included with the cross of the finish line and my husband (the great photographer for the day) was oh so kind enough to drink my beer for me.  He said it was great.

I've read about a lot of races that take forever to send out results.  Well they gave out awards at 11:30am and by 11:45 I had an email saying the following:

"Congratulations Heather  on finishing the Preakness 5K on May 12, 2012.  For your records, the weather that day was Sunny, 77 degrees with a 3 mph WNW Wind, and your given horse name is Proud Bear
Your overall finish place was 504 (out of 600), your age group finish place was 54 and your gender finish place was 302.  Your time of 44:55.01 gave you a 14:29 min/mile pace."

All in all I'm pretty happy with that.  I beat my goal of a 15 min. mile by more than 30 sec. and I was far from last.  It's only my first race of many to come and I know I'll only improve.  

On a completely different note, my lovely husband got me these flower for mothers day.
I LOVE them!
Happy Mom's Day to all you moms out there!

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