This past Saturday, Lisa, Lydia and I ran a 5k to help raise funds to build an elementary school in Haiti (www.growinghopeforhaiti.org). Actually, Lydia rode a 5k in her stroller, which I pushed the 3.1 miles. She was tired and crying just prior to the start of the race, but I decided to give it a try anyway. We ran toward the sun for the first mile and Lydia continued crying the entire way. When we finally turned the corner and the sun was out of her face, Lydia promptly fell asleep for the remainder of the race. It was about at this point of the race that the gentle downhill turned into a ever-increasing uphill run. Every time I though we might have reached the plateau I was greeted with another hill. Notice how great I look in the wonderful snapshot of Lydia and I crossing the finish line.
Here are some observations from my race:
Not all 5ks are created equal.
My first ever 5k was a totally flat course, based in a floodplain. The 5k we ran in the Spring had a large hill in the middle of the race, but then we turned around and had a nice downhill run for the majority of the back half of the race. The course this past weekend was downhill the first mile and then basically uphill the remaining 2 miles, with a brutally steep hill the last few hundred yards to the finish line.
You run differently when pushing a stroller.
This is obvious at a glance but becomes a harsh reality once you begin the race. As you attack hills, you find your arms tiring of the effort to keep the stroller far enough in front of you to allow you to drive your legs with power over the hill. This expense of energy takes a toll after several hills and your legs get tired much more quickly.
You breathe differently when pushing a stroller.
Being slightly bent over hinders your ability to grab a complete breath, especially when you are working your way up a hill. The downhill stretches become a respite where you can let gravity pull the stroller for you and you can stretch your arms out and relax your posture. These are the moments where you have to capitalize on catching as much oxygen as possible.
Your child's attitude/demeanor can and will alter your pace throughout the race.
I started the race a little quicker than I normally would, because I was hoping that Lydia would stop crying and fall asleep. Once I saw the turn away from the sun my pace quickened even more. For this particular race, this meant that my pace over the first mile was significantly faster than I would have run on my own or if she was happy at the time. While this mile was mostly downhill anyway, I burned a lot more energy and effort to cover it quicker than I would have otherwise. This led me to essentially starting the climb on the back two-thirds of the race slightly out of breath and with a higher heart rate than I would normally have liked.
I am not as young as I once was.
I ran my first 5k after 6 weeks of dedicated training. I ran the same flat 5k a year later having trained consistently for a month and then we had Lydia and I didn't run for 4 weeks leading up to race day. The 5k earlier this year and had run a couple of times in the month leading up to the race, but I wasn't consistent at all and wouldn't dare call it training of any sort. This was also my first 5k pushing Lydia, who at the time weighed in around 15 pounds. I had not trained or run at all leading up to this race and it really beat me up. Lydia was heavier (25 pounds) I was more out of shape and the course was harder than any I have run to date. My legs are about 90% today and it is the first day that standing up from a sitting position doesn't hurt.
Lessons Learned & Goals:
I want to run another 5k after training consistently for it.
I want to reduce my course time.
I want to own the course and not have it mock me.
I want to be able to walk normally without pain within 2 days of the race.
I should heed my wife's warnings and walk some of the course if I have not trained.
Enduring to finish comes at a steep cost when you aren't prepared for the race.