Race Report: Oktoberfest 5K

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For those that know me well, you know that I am a morning person. Not just any morning person… one of those annoyingly perky and alert morning people… and that is before the cup of the coffee. However, what surprises a lot of people is that I loathe working out in the morning. That is not to say that I never work out in the morning… but for the most part, I avoid it if I can.

And yes, morning races are also my least favorite…

So a race that starts at 6:30 pm in my favorite part of the city is right up my alley. The Oktoberfest 5K is such a race. The race starts and ends in Lincoln Park winding through areas of the park.

Packet Pick-up at Fleet Feet was a breeze like always. My only complaint… Fleet Feet really needs to work on their definition of Women’s t-shirt sizes. Myself along with several other women at the race that I spoke with all agreed that the women’s sizes were closer to children’s sizes…

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Leading up the race I really wasn’t sure if I was going to set a time goal for myself. I had just nailed a HUGE goal that I had been chasing for two and a half years and I was quite content with that. Part of me wanted to just enjoy this race. But the other part of me really wanted to see if I could better my time from the last 5K so that I could see if I had a 5K PR in me for my favorite 5K.

In the end, I decided I wanted to be around 30:00 minutes for this race. It would be a decent improvement from my last 5K and it would mean I was within 22 seconds of my PR time.

Luckily, the weather was in my favor this year over last year… it was a gorgeous night for a run. I was really excited to race and even more excited to spend time with friends. I was all ready to go in my WRCE Drindl

Eric and I met up around 6 and chatted with his track crew before checking our bags and lining up. This is a very small no frills race. After the Star Spangled Banner and an enthusiastic “go” for the vocalist, we were off.

I have a slight advantage when it comes to LP races… I know all the “potholes” in the park and I know where things get uneven. I also know where the race is kind of tight and where things spread out for a better chance to get around people.

Not having too much of a race strategy in mind, I knew I didn’t want to do too much weaving to start but I also did not want to hang back like I normally do. I weaved where it was easy to do making sure I stayed where I needed to so I could avoid those tricky spots on the course.

I decided to not run with water for this race. Despite this strategy working really well for me in the Mag Mile race, I also knew that it was significantly cooler and there was really no sun exposure. So I took my chances…

When I saw the mile one marker, I glanced at my watch and saw my mile split was 9:33 and was immediately bummed. I went out a LOT faster than I had planned so now I was concerned that it would mess up my chances to hit my goal because I would fade at the end of the race.

The one and only water station came shortly after the mile one marker. I debated whether or not I should keep going or stop for water. I knew I would need water before the race was over but I also kind of wanted later on… But since the race had the water station before the half way point, I didn’t really have that option. In the end, the strong headwind that had me feeling pretty parched decided for me… I grabbed a cup of water which I downed in a few quick sips and maybe 10 steps and then took off again.

As I made my way to the turn around point, I started to pass some of the people that had passed me earlier in the race. I was a bit surprised because my first mile split had me pretty concerned. Racing well after three seasons of NOT racing well is a bit of an odd sensation….

I made my way back under the Fullerton underpass… I really hate the underpass hills…. really short but really steep…

I saw the second mile marker sign and glanced down at my watch but I had already missed my second split. I was running blind now. But the mile marker clock said I was a little over 19 minutes into the race… but I also had no idea what the start line clock said when I crossed and I felt like I was slowing down so I had no idea if I was still on pace to hit my goal.

The next mile was a hug struggle for me. I knew there was another small hill to climb and I felt like I was slowing down even more.  refused to look at my pace because if I had seen the confirmation that I was slowing down, it would have defeated me mentally. I trudged along…

Here is where I was really glad I was so familiar I knew the park and the course. I knew I was getting closer and I was determined to hang in there. I quick glance at my watch and I knew I only had half a mile left. So I made my through the last turns of the course getting closer and closer to the finish line.

When I hit the final straight away and saw the three mile marker, I took off. I had no idea where I was timing wise but I suspected I was borderline so I went all out. The closer I got to the finish line, the more my legs felt like they were toast but I refused to let up. My mental will was stronger at this point.

I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch… and totally missed the reading on the finish line clock…

I saw Eric and the rest of the crew so I walked over to them as I checked my watch… As soon as I saw the reading on my watch I was floored…

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It wasn’t an official time, but I knew I had just PR’d by nearly 30 seconds… and I never intended to PR at all… I was also completely out of breathe so I doubled over as I told Eric that I just PR’d…

But what I really wanted was my official results… and a bottle of water… the need for water came first. But I was so tired and out of breathe that I needed Eric to open it for me… Too bad he couldn’t catch :-p

We grabbed our bags from gear check and then headed over the bar to sit and chat and eat and drink. I ordered myself a drink because I deserved one for a PR. It was a fun evening chatting with everyone but I was still rather shocked that I nailed a PR when I had never intended to do so… Oddly enough, I had someone believe in me more than I believed in myself…

I checked my mile splits and saw 9:33 / 9:31 / 9:30 / 7:49 (last tenth of a mile)… So Even though I felt like I was slowing down, I wasn’t… and talk about consistent…

The following morning, I eagerly checked my results…

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My official results were even better than my watch… I officially have a 31 second PR!!!! I was even more thrilled than I had been the night before.

After three years of disappointing races and training, I feel like things are finally falling into place. I am actually contemplating setting goals that I never thought were within my grasp. So far the fall racing season is off to a great start for me!


5 thoughts on “Race Report: Oktoberfest 5K

  1. Wow, congrats on the massive PR and nice even splits! Even splits are the best way to run a 5k. Way to hang in there after your fast first mile. Turns out it wasn’t too fast, probably perfect actually. Keep up with the consistent training like you’ve been doing and you will probably reach those other goals soon! I had registered for the race but couldn’t make it. Oh well, maybe next year…

  2. Pingback: Weekly Training Report: September 15th – 21st | It Never Gets Easier - You Just Get Better

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