Saturday, February 28, 2009

Afraid of 5K

As runners, we often learn things about ourselves that we’d never known before. From the inspiring (Wow, I never knew I was capable of running a marathon) to the eerie (Damn, I look like I’m heading out to rob a bank when I’m all decked out in my winter gear). From the awkward (I never imagined I had a penchant for public peeing until I took up running) to the sublime (Man, I've never experienced life until I'm running and spectating at Mile 25), we are constantly finding and rediscovering bits and pieces of ourselves that we never knew existed until we started running.

This week’s discovery moment came a couple days ago when I realized I had a race this Sunday: The Coogan’s Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K. Unbeknownst to even me at the beginning of the week, apparently, I’m afraid of 5Ks, like deathly afraid. The weird part is I’m terrified of the 5K not because I’ve never raced that distance before, (Yeah, my performance at Prospect Park last week killed that argument) or because I might suck at it, which I honestly might because the race calculators have predicted a 18:29 finishing time for me in this race, which is so insanely fast. I’m afraid of 5Ks because of a phone conversation I had with a running buddy that went something along the lines of:
  • “So you’re running the 5K this weekend.”
  • “Yep. My first one.”
  • “Watch your step at the finish.”
  • “What? Why? Oh you mean because it might rain on Sunday…”
  • “NO. The puke. The finish line can get kind of slippery with all that vomit all over it!”
You see, I hadn’t thought of that specific aspect of the 5K before my friend mentioned it, but now that he did, I can’t stop thinking about it!!! For one thing, I haven’t puked in public since my very first race four years. And on some subconscious level, I take pride in the fact that I’ve never defiled the earth with my projectile vomit in all the races I’ve done since. Secondly, I think I’m scheduled to meet some new bloggy friends immediately following the race and I’d rather their first impression of me not be of the guy puking his brains out at the finish. However, because this is the first points race of the new year for bragging rights among the local running clubs, I might be tempted to approached the puke threshold just to catch or hold off one or two guys from a rival club right at the line. At the very least, I’m sure the thoughts will cross my mind as I’m passing the 3 mile marker heading for home. Is it worth it? Is it worth my puking my brains out just to end up 505th instead of 507th, nipping guys at the end who are much faster than me, stronger than me, pacing me the whole time who has done nothing to me, and don’t know my name or my business except the New York Flyers logo stuck to the front of my race jersey but who will now lose the race simply because they are unsuspecting, or should I run fast but just hold my pace and watch my step going gingerly over the finish. So what if I’ll lose a second or maybe two in the process? No one will know the difference anyway right? Hmmm…tough question. So tough in fact I wish I wouldn’t have to ask it….EVER!!! But I will, and I know I will.

And that’s why I’m afraid, so very afraid of the 5K. For those who’ve conquered the fear, or have much more experience than me (which would be NONE) racing this distance, please share your expertise as to how this situation can be rectified? Please. Maybe then I can finally catch some sleep before my race. Here’s to hoping anyway….

Have a good weekend all!

(As a reminder, be sure to sign up for the free exclusive screening of Beyond the Epic Run if you’re from NYC and are free Monday night. Just tell ‘em the Laminator sent ya…)


joyRuN said...

I've strolled through my 5Ks, being the noncompetitive slug that I am :)

Go for the puke threshold!! Come on! I'd rather read about that than how sweet-smelling you were after the race ;)

Jamie said...

I've never actually puked but I have been close...I think with 5k's your competive nature is even more pronounced than with other races. And if you reach the puke threshold you will walk away a little taller knowing you put your all into it. Plus, the puke threshold makes for a much better race report :)

X-Country2 said...

Ewww, that's gross. Puke in the grass people!

Good luck. With the race and keeping your breakfast.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Running and living said...

Fear is good, the extra adrenaline will make you even speedier - not that you need the extra speed, I mean, you are already flying! Good luck and let us know how it went! Ana-Maria

Jess said...

I have to say I have never seen puke at the finish line of a 5k, and I would know since basically every runner finishes before me so I have ample opportunity for people to puke before I get there :). I would hope people would at least have some respect and puke in the grass ;).

I've been close to tossing my cookies, but I never have. Looking at all the people scares it right back down!

Joe Garland said...

First, that sounds like an urban legend to me. I've never seen it. And, seriously, at your pace everyone ahead of you is likely to have the constitution to make it -- however hard they kick -- without puking.

Second, here's the course. I've run it once, in 2007. You can freeze waiting for the start because you're in the shade. The course is slightly uphill at the start, then there's a slight downhill followed by an up. At about 1.3, you start a long downhill as you head into Fort Tryon. At the bottom of the hill, you turn around. Now you must get to the top of the hill.

It's really no big deal. This is a 5K. What's cool about this race is that you can see the finish from about 10 blocks (1/2 mile) away. You can see all of the traffic lights. You really get the sense of covering ground with those lights. And because of that slight uphill at the start, you are now going slightly downhill. 5 lights to go = 1/4 mile. Enjoy it.

This year it's a club race, so it'll be faster than normal.

Finally, my 5K times stand out as being out of line with all my other race times (it's slower). My mile and 1/2 marathon correspond almost exactly. But the 5K is a tough nut. My time on this course was even slower than my usual, so bear that in mind.

Have fun and enjoy that last quarter.

Cowboy Hazel said...

The 5K can be very tricky. I've run a bunch of them in my day and seem to be cursed -- I cannot break 20 minutes (even though I have run a sub 40 10K -- It makes no sense...) But, hopefully that barrier will finally fall tomorrow.

I'm sure you'll do great. Don't worry about the puke, I think that's an old wives' tale. My only advice is to not start too quickly -- it's tempting to want to sprint out of the start, but 3.1 miles is still a considerable distance. Good luck!

Joe Garland said...

Seriously, part II.

Why are you running a 5K now when you're running Boston? Don't you lose a long run?

And I recommend against that Scotland 10K. Before I ran NY in 2006, I ran the Poland Spring 5 miler a week before. I kind of took it easy to get some speed into my legs. And it felt pretty easy, although it was actually fast. I thought after the marathon, however, that it was definitely a mistake. Who knows what it took out of me, but I think it did and it contributed to my late-race suffering.

Mike G said...

Oh what a well written running blog! And even more exciting, you and I are of very comparable skill levels. I just qualified for Boston 2 weeks ago with a 3:10 for the Myrtle Beach marathon and am hoping to run a 1:27 at the Red Rock Half marathon this saturday.

So the problem with the 5k as I see it is you want to apply the same degree of intensity you summon for your longer races to this little nothing of a race - it's practically a triple jump. So you end up ratcheting up the intensity until 5:50 pace feels correct, although of course for your average above average marathoner it doesn't.

It is a real dilemma. I feel your pain. I recommend a powerbar and water beforehand, a light breakfast that will help keep it down when you're trying to catch that guy on the finish straightaway. Which you will, since you're an ultra competitive bastard like me.

Marie said...

I say go all out or what's the point. If you puke, then so be it - it will make an interesting story later on. But I have never seen anyone puke after a 5K anyway.

Good luck tomorrow!

Uggh said...

Hmmm..I wasn't worried about puking. I was worried about being the guy who blows up and has to walk part of a 5k. +1 to CH's "it's still a considerable distance". I was fine, no puking or walking, and you'll be fine too.

Ansky said...

Laminator, heard your name mentioned on the Runners Round Table #18. They were interviewing the author of the "Frayed Laces" blog. Great Job helping FL recover from her injury and getting the the BQ!

Irish Cream said...

No need to worry, Lam . . . you'll do awesome tomorrow!! And hey, I was definitely approaching my puke threshold at the end of the 5K last weekend (yuck) . . . so we may be able to recognize one another by our puke-covered ensemble. I promise I won't judge ;)

Best of luck!! See you tomorrow!

The Happy Runner said...

ROCK ON!!! I say go all out; I'm dying to know how speedy you'll be in the 5k. My bet is very speedy.

Good luck and I hope you don't puke ;)

Michelle said...

Lam you are well known all over the running community and you know your stuff. I am sure you will do the right thing tomorrow and run a strong race!!!

I say go all like the wind!!!!


The Laminator said...

Wow...thanks everyone for the outpouring of support! I didn't know puking at the finish is an old wives' tale. I thought everyone does it...hmmm, this will give me something to watch for AFTER I finish tomorrow.

To answer a few of your questions/concerns:

Joe - Thanks for the course update. I've been told to expect the hills on this course so my expectations are tempered. As for my long run...I actually took off early from work on Thursday and got 20 miles in already so I'm all set for that...Finally, I'll take your concerns on my 10K under advisement. Will revisit that as the date gets closer. Thanks for all your advice.

Cowboy/Mike - Yeah, I realized this week that 5K is still a considerable distance. I was prepping by running intervals on the treadmill and couldn't believe how long the distance was. Will definitely hold a little something back for the end.

Anksy - Thanks for the mention. I'm well aware that she took my name primetime. But just between you and me, she exaggerates a little in general and a whole lot when talking about me...she called me ugly names at various points during training when she wasn't performing up to expectations, did she mention that?!

Irish - So what are having for breakfast tomorrow...that way we can color coordinate our puddles of vomit at the finish line...

Spike said...

you will do great. just remember, the finish of a 5K can sneak up on you, hold back too much during mile two and you'll regret it.

J said...

First of all you are an awesome runner so I just know that you will do awesome in the 5k! I feel the same way you described when I get ready to run the 400m or 800m race. It is so fast and there is very little room for mistakes but those moments of running are so amazing that even through the pain I love it!

M*J*C said...

You crack me up!!! I don't think I can run fast enough to have to deal with "speed induced puking"!!! But this is coming from a girl who doesn't really like the 5K because I'm one of those "run/walk" people, and walking during a 5K just feels stupid to me, but at the same time last year when I was training for my marathon it felt strange not to walk at some point....
I say you go for it, FULL OUT and deal with whatever happens at the end!!! Hope you had an AWESOME race!!!!

JohnnyGo said...

Well, the race is over, and I kept an eye out for your puke at the finish line, but it must have all dried up by the time I got there.
Looking forward to the report!

Reluctant Runner said...

Too late now, but I would say don't hold back! My husband, who is a speedy distance runner, ran his first 5K last summer and felt he held back a little too much. (I'm a little more like joyRuN, and tend to cross the finish line much later!)

At any rate, the first run at any distance is a learning experience -- and a guaranteed PR. Hope it was a good one for you.

aron said...

hope the 5k went well, they are a whole different kind of race. i definitely prefer the longer distance!

sRod said...

I know it's now post-race and that you probably went all out. But could you imagine how crappy you would feel if you knew you didn't give it your all?

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