The Cherry Festival 5k race report
In professional rodeo bull riding, eight seconds is the goal. The dream. An eternity. You last 8 seconds, you’ve done your job.* You go home happy. In that sport, eight seconds is a big deal. Ask Luke Perry. He made a whole movie about it.
In 5k running? Eight seconds doesn’t mean so much. This past Saturday, I ran in the race I’ve participated in more than any other: The National Cherry Festival 5k. My ultimate 5k goal is to best 18:00. My PR going in was 18:30 (set at this same race last year.) So, how did I do?
Eight measly seconds? This isn’t bull riding. Eight seconds is like 50 feet isn’t it? I could spit a cherry pit that far. Sure, a new PR (drum roll, drop the curtain, wild applause, note the new PR on the list to the right) but it feels a bit hollow. Like when I tease midgets. I didn’t come here(there) for a mere 8 second PR. I wasn’t sure I could get below 18:00 but I was pretty sure 18:15 was in jeopardy.
The plan was miles of 5:45, 5:55, 5:55 and then bust a gut to the finish in the final .11.
Mile 1: 5:47
Slightly behind goal but I was congratulating myself for not smoking a 5:35 or something here and undermining the entire race. There was one wispy 70 lb high school gal with legs about as big around as Luke Perry’s forearms that I followed right from the starting gun. I felt sure that there was no way she could keep pace with those spindly legs.
Mile 2: 5:54
11:41 total at this point but I knew I probably needed 11:30 here to challenge 18 minutes. I was still moving pretty comfortably as I continued to trail Olive Oyl. I spent the entire second mile contemplating the physics behind Oyl’s legs not breaking with every foot fall.
Mile 3: 6:02
17:43 elapsed time. Not sure what happened here. As all of you 5kers know, this particular race is an all out, all the time effort. I was giving a lot but, looking back, I’m not sure I gave it ALL. Last year, I remember red lining through this last mile and praying for the finish line…or death. And probably not in that order. I don’t recall that same feeling this time around.
Last .12 (according to Garmin) fraction of a mile: 39 seconds (5:44 mile pace)
The final mile heads down the main street of town where the villagers are gathering for the parade. I never did catch Olive Oyl. I guess one doesn’t need much leg muscle to run 5k’s after all. Either that or she had her femurs removed and is running purely on hardened muscle and cartilage.
I was pretty p.o’ed for awhile over those measly 8 seconds but we’ve come to terms.** In fact, I’ve been twisting around and inspecting that 18:22 to find just the right angle for me to appreciate it more. Last year, my Garmin recorded only 3.06 miles for this race. They redesigned the course slightly this year and Garmin reflected a more accurate 3.12 this time around. See? Eight seconds quicker but .06 farther as well.
Turns out, Olive Oyl (finish time 18:19) was passed in the final two blocks by the overall female winner (18:16). I was unknowingly chasing the female leader the entire time – mocking her pencil thin legs and arrogantly expecting her to fade at some point. If I only had a male uterus like RazZ, I could have been right there challenging for the overall female win. Instead, unlike RazZ, I’m entirely male. I’ll never feel the pain of child birth. (But I did feel the pain of watching my professional football team lose every single game. Every Sunday. For 16 straight weeks last season. That’s got to be worse than a few hours of labor on one single day right? Olive Oyl – and all you other ladies – will never go through something that painful. Trust me.)
I did score a bittersweet age group award. In one final insult, just as Oyl was succumbing to her late race challenge, I felt the panting of breath and slapping of feet hot over my shoulder. I kicked it in to hold him off (which begs the question WHY DID I HAVE A GEAR TO ‘KICK IN’ WITH WHEN I SHOULD HAVE BEEN GOING ALL OUT ALREADY?!?!) crossing the finish mat a couple whiskers ahead. I was smugly satisfied with that, at least. Alas, through the magic of timing chip starts, my challenger still bested me by 1 second in my age group. He was 2 seconds behind at the start. (queue wah wah wah trumpet)
Next time – possibly in two weeks – I’m going to run all out in that final 5k mile and hold on like a bull rider at the rodeo. I just hope it means a bit more than 8 seconds.
Number? Yes, numbers:
Official time: 18:22
Official pace: 5:54/mile
Overall place: 46th of 1690
Age group: 3rd of 83
* No, Vanilla, this doesn’t apply to other “activities.” Besides, this would be a PR for you.
** Though I still haven’t forgiven Luke Perry for 8 Seconds.