Place: 455/1937

Age Group:30/88 30-34

Chip time: 29:20

Average Mile: 9:26

Mile 1: 12:20 Mile 2: 8:53 Mile 3: 8:13

I have noticed a growing trend in running.  Maybe it’s been there for a long time, and I’m just now noticing, but what is it about us runners that keeps us from running the same distances or even a shorter distance than we’ve done before?  I just completed the 13th annual Fort Worth Zoo Run 5K.  Yes that’s right, I said 5K, but before we get to that, I want to go back to this over-distancing thing.

It was rainy and cold today so before the race start I was wearing a long sleeve technical shirt I got for running the Walt Disney World Marathon in January.  I was walking over to a friend when another man in a Disney Marathon shirt stopped me, and we had a chat about the race.  We reminisced a little, and then out of nowhere he made sure I knew he was only running the 5K because he was rehabbing a knee injury.  I thought it was a little strange to just throw that in there, but I realized he was making sure I knew he was more than just a 5K guy.  He is a marathoner and proud of it, but why does that make the 5K something to be ashamed of?  I too run marathons and half marathons, and I am proud of that, but should that make me feel like I shouldn’t be running something shorter?  I don’t know.

I watch documentaries and read books about 22-mile races, runs across the Sahara, and 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states.  I mean, seriously, how far are we going to take this thing?  Back in the day it used to be freaky to run a marathon; so much so that they assumed a woman’s ovaries would just fall out if she ever tried it.  Now thanks to great mean like Jeff Galloway and Hal Higdon, anyone can run a marathon, and it’s been proven.  I think that is a wonderful fact, and I love that so many people out there are running and challenging themselves.  I have always believed that anyone can be a runner.  Gifted people will be fast runners, but anyone and everyone can run.  With that said, I walked to the starting area for the race, and I was excited.

I was excited because it was my first race in Five Fingers.  I had thought about going bare and really enjoying it, but I was unsure of the course, and it was raining a good amount so I was concerned about tearing up my feet in soggy conditions.  I have been working on building up my ability to handle running on pavement both bare and in my Five Fingers, and today was a great experience and proving ground for my efforts.

The start was really slow as an odd amount of walkers, little children, and even a guy in a wheelchair (yes a regular old wheelchair) were right up front.  I paid no mind to it as I knew this was a timed 5K and 5K fun run starting at the same time; still I had hoped for a little more race etiquette than that.  The first mile of the run took me through the zoo, where the slow pace was nice in that it let me get a decent look at the animals as I ran through with my friend Kelly, who was making sure to point all of them out.  Once we made our way through the zoo and the crowd to a certain extent the actual race began.  It instantly went up a nice hill, and then the course began to roll through some nice old neighborhoods that were full of hills.  Kelly wasn’t feeling well so she told me to go on.  Now anyone who has ever run with a friend knows that this is a tough decision.  If you leave then you may feel bad.  If you stay you may make them feel bad, but Kelly is great, and she knew we had different races to run so I wished her luck, and I took off.  I knew my first mile was slow, and I wanted to pick it up some so I took stock.  My main concern was how my feet were feeling.  I had no hot spots and no signs of blisters even though my feet were soaked.  A great thing about Five Fingers is that they do not hold in the moisture, and you can run without fearing the wet spots.  I was also not feeling any of the pad soreness I had been feeling all week and that really made my adrenaline flow.  So I upped my cadence, and I started passing people.

I was not putting it into full gear because I wanted to use the run as a test so I settled into what felt like a pretty good pace but nothing that was killing me.  I kept passing by people who were feeling the hills, and I was smiling.  I love to run hills.  I absolutely love to power up a nice climb and feel the force that my muscles have to exert as I try to increase my speed on an incline.  So I was smiling, but I was also smiling because I just felt good!  I was running in my KSO’s, and it felt great so I smiled.  I looked at my watch and saw that I had about a mile left, and I picked up the pace again.   I was using my Nike+ sensor in a Tune Belt holder on the strap of my KSO’s, and it was keeping a nice accurate account of my distance.  Still with a mile to go I kicked it up and was feeling like I could fly.  It was about that time that I found myself plodding down a long steep hill.

I used to also love running downhill as I would just lean in and let it all go.  I would relinquish all muscular control and let the hill pull me down at a crazy rate.  I loved it!  Now the downhill is a little less loved because it kind of hurts.  The barefoot run is not a friend to the downhill because it either pounds your heels or puts a lot of pressure on your forefoot, which creates some pain issues at times.  About half way down this hill I realized I was trucking and passing people.  I was not trying to, but something had happened to my form.  It adjusted and became really efficient in a way that was not how I had been running down hills in training.  I was landing squarely on my heel, but it was light and quick as it rolled to the front of my foot and right into the next step.  There was no slapping or pounding or even trying to keep myself from going too fast.  Instead I was feeling the wind in my face and cruising along.  I loved it!  At the bottom of the hill and with a quarter mile to go I decided to go ahead and turn it on to the finish, where I crossed the line in a respectable (I think) time of 29:20.

My splits broke down in an interesting way.  This was on my Nike+ so it is a few seconds off but still works.  First mile 12:20.  Thick crowds and not a lot of room caused for a very slow first mile.  Second mile 8:53.  Good hill climbs and not really thinking I wanted to push too hard but knowing I wanted to make up for the first mile even though I did not really know how slow it was.  Third mile 8:13.  Now this one I like because it’s obviously longer than a mile being the last leg of a 5K and it was by far the fastest mile of the day.  I was able to really crank up my speed and not suffer any ill effects, no blisters and no pain in my footpads.  It was a great run, and I recommend it for everyone, whether you are a marathoner or not.  I realized today that I like 5K’s, and I enjoyed the heck out of this one.  It’s not about the distance but about the times you have putting your feet on the ground, and the Fort Worth Zoo Run is worth every step!

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