Last weekend I ran the Camano Island Crab Dash 5k! It was a beautiful hilly run with a great crowd. There were less crab costumes and hats than anticipated, but the runners were kind and encouraging. Locals came to the road to cheer folks on, and the race organizers did a fantastic job of course marking, water stations, and support after the race. This was a local gem I will most certainly do again!
The ever-inspiring MT did the 10k and tackled a nasty hill at mile 4-5 – called King Crab Hill. I was not sad that the 5k didn’t head that direction. We had some nice ups and downs but nothing traumatic. Here we enjoying the pre-race shade.
The race shirts are so good: a cartoon crab with a different brand of running shoe on each leg. Adorable. Post-race and feeling accomplished, we changed out of sweaty gear for the ride home.
We stopped at Salt & Thistle Provisions in Stanwood to celebrate their grand opening where we met the Stanwood mayor, grabbed some presents for our families, enjoyed delicious coffee, and split the best carrot cupcake I’ve ever had. We also couldn’t resist taking home some cinnamon rolls right from the oven. What a fabulous June race!
I got my May race in early by running the Haggen to Haggen 5k on May 2nd. This race, similar to my March race Running O The Green, is a very popular local race. After a quarter mile of some brief hills, the next 80% of the race is a gentle down hill through the main streets of town. It is fun to run on the closed off main streets and the downhill factor makes for some serious PR capability. In fact, before my awesome April Whidbey PR, my fasted 5k race was the Haggen to Haggen in 2013. This year I ran quick and was only a few second behind my Whidbey time, but I have to say I was just irritated by the end of this race. Rather than write a rant, I’ll provide you with the top three peeves and pluses:
- Registration was a fiasco. Incorrect and/or limited information given on the website led to a whole host of issues I won’t bore you with. Just know it was a hassle.
- These bigger local races mean everyone and their mom (and their dog and their stroller and their 4 year old) comes out to join. And, since many are not race regulars, the basic race etiquette goes out the window. Walkers, dogs, strollers line up near the start line and meant the first two miles were spent dodging and being held up.
- The post-race area was also a fiasco. There was a line to get into the roped off area where the trough and treats were. This line extended all the way to the finish line so finishers couldn’t run hard at the end. After milling about, I realized there was literally no reason for this line except to get a reusable shopping bag and there were no race monitors/volunteers redirecting the crowd of lemmings who just saw a line and decided to stand in it.
- Race fees go toward track scholarships which is a great cause I was happy to support.
- The race photo of me is semi-decent (see above).
- The long sleeved tech shirt is totally usable and will be a regular fall/winter rotation.
Whidbey Island 5k (Sunday)
The last time I participated in this race day was 2013 when I ran my first half marathon. Six days after a very bad ankle sprain, I braved torrential rains and blustery winds to hobble through my first 13.1 miles. It was an accomplishment that came with mixed emotions, but I am still proud of my ability to persevere through that race.
I felt this year was to be a triumphant return to Whidbey even though I was running the 5k and not the half. Saturday after Fun with the Fuzz I was just feeling good. I felt something in my bones and my muscles and my mind that all told me I was stronger and more prepared for Whidbey than any other race I’ve completed. I can’t explain except to say I just knew I was on the precipice of something.
We made a ladies weekend of the two back-to-back races and headed to Whidbey for some pre-race hijinx – which mostly consisted of snacks in the hotel, thai food for dinner, a beer at a local bar “Off The Hook”, hot tubbing, and some comical commentary as we flipped through channels and snuggled in bed.
The race was amazing. I was so in the zone I don’t know what took over my mind and my legs. The first little bit I navigated the crowd and by mile 1 I had found a pacer to try and catch/keep up with. Our legs fell into rhythm and stayed close enough to be in her shadow the whole time. At 2.3 miles she turned over her shoulder and said to me with frustration, “There are no mile markers on this course”. I showed her my watch and she groaned, “Ugh. Another mile…”. I said, “You are kicking my ass. Thank you!” She smiled and replied, “You are kicking mine!!”
We spent that last mile almost side by side. We didn’t talk, we just ran – each knowing we couldn’t let the other person down by slowing or walking. As we turned the corner to the home stretch she looked over to me and with a determined smile said, “Turn it on!”. I knew just what she meant. We both gave it everything we had and sprinted, pushing our legs to move faster and our lungs to pump harder.
We crossed the finish line and chatted for a few minutes. I learned she was visiting from Denver and was racing with several friends that day (in various other distance races). We thanked each other and talked races, running, and generally basked in the glow of what was most certainly a PR for us both. I will not soon forget her kindness and our race together.
I checked my watch and was blown away. Prior to this race, my race PR was 37:54 from 2013. I have beat that a handful of times in training runs, but never by much. I was aiming for low 37:?? and even dared to day dream about seeing 36:??.It has been a while since I ran a race all-out and I am aware my training over the last several months has been more consistent that ever. I know I’ve talked about my pace in a few posts recently and how I’ve been seeing an uptick in my pace and generally feeling more stable in my runs. I just haven’t seen anything like this.
I finished Whidbey 5k averaging 11:20/mile (WHaaaaAAtt??) in 35:12. Thirty five minutes and twelve seconds. This is almost 3 minutes faster than my previous PR (exactly 2:42 if you’re counting. I know I am.).
Even typing that, I cannot believe it. I am still riding my race and PR high. While I am not counting on every race being faster than the previous – heck, it will be a while before 35min 5k is a regular thing for me – but most importantly, I am more motivated than ever to keep up my consistency and to continue working on my running practice.