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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Race Recap: First on the First 5K + Bonus Let It Snow Virtual 5K

I've been putting off this post as I waited for my Let It Snow medal to arrive in the mail. I thought I'd combine the two races as they happened days apart.

Photo by Rob McCormick
Let's start with the in-person race. The First on the First 5k took place January 1 at 11:00am in Westerville, Ohio. [course map]

Tobias likes the swag. (Men's shirt left, ladies right.)
Pre Race 
We weren't able to pick up our packets before, so we arrived early. Packet pickup was a breeze. I saw a running buddy almost immediately and we were able to chat with her and her husband as we pinned on our bibs. The race began at Westerville's new-ish recreation center. It's huge and has a ton of meeting rooms, a large multipurpose gymnasium, a climbing wall, fitness center, indoor track, etc etc... a great space.

We did this run last year, so we knew what to expect. However, this time it was SO COLD.  My new Garmin tells me it was 27 degrees. There was a a biting wind, which made it a bit more difficult to figure out what to wear. Thank goodness the sun was shining. In the end, I layered two long sleeve shirts (including my awesome new snowflake compression shirt from Marshall's) and a Buff under my fleece headband.

The Race
This is a cool shirt.
I won't spend too much time recapping my thoughts during this race because they were mainly: "gosh it's cold" and "I'm not running as fast as I'd hoped." My first mile clocked in at 8:40 which is about 30 seconds slower than my first mile at that Santa Race (PR). My second mile was 9:02. I can't say I'm surprised. Between 1 and 2 we turned into a wooded area and I remember thinking I didn't feel particularly fast. I was right!

Between miles 2 and 3 the 28:00 pace group caught up with me. Whoops. Earlier in the week, I planned to at least tie my PR (26:31), but to be honest I wasn't feeling it. I didn't drink too much on New Year's Eve and I was in bed around midnight, but my tummy was sensitive and my head wasn't in the game. I'm ok with that. I did really well in my last few 2014 races and my ultimate goal for the First on the First was to run it faster than I did in 2014.

When we came to about 2.9 the 28:00 pacers yelled, "Alright, if you want to finish in under 28 minutes now is the time to push it!" They were so supportive at the end; definitely the best pacers I've run near. (Usually they start out nice, but then they just talk to people they know. This guy and gal team did a great job supporting everyone.) I kicked it up in the final turn toward the finish. I didn't feel particularly great and got caught up in a group of people, but decided to push ahead so that the race photographer could see me. (Hey, I'm being honest. But it's because last year's photo was so derpy.) Unfortunately for vain little me, there were a few photogs at the end and I mouth-breathed towards the wrong one! Ha!

A minor improvement. Alex made fun of me for last year's photo. I hated it then, but now think it's just goofy (left).
Post Race + Swag
I finished, got my medal, and could not find Alex (he finished about 6 minutes before). I got a little PO'd, but he appeared; he went to get his coat from the car. We went inside the warm gymnasium and got in line for our chocolate milk and tacos. Please remind me when I do my year end review that the First on the First has the best swag. We came away with medals, shirts (glad I sized up), amazing chapstick, light up armbands (!), gear bags, and food. We stuck around for a little while to eat a few tacos and I saw a lot of familiar faces. Last year I didn't know anyone at the run, so it feels like I've made some social progress.

2014 and 2015 side by side
Mile Splits
1 mi       8:40
2 mi       9:02
3 mi       8:51
3.1 mi    8:49

Final Time: 27:31 (8:52 m/m)
My previous time on this course was 31:20 (I was mildly injured and had to wear my glasses because I ran out of contacts before Christmas, so not quite the amazing triumph it sounds like.)

Overall: 256 / 1,367 (18.7%)
Age Group:  29 / 247 (3.6%!)
Gender: 81 / 878 (9%)

Let it Snow Virtual 5K

Let's switch gears to the Virtual Run. My Let It Snow Virtual 5k took place December 30 after work. [More info about Jost Running]

Let It Snow Medal: Front and back
This was my first Virtual Race. I felt a little goofy about it, to be honest. I didn't even tell Alex I did it until I got the medal in the mail last night. I signed up for two reasons: 1. the medal is really pretty and 2. the charity (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society). I figure more of the sign up money has to go to the charity in a virtual races. Can anyone confirm? I wavered on signing up for a few weeks, but bit the bullet on the second to last day of the year. I knew I couldn't run on the 31st and be in good form for the First on the First.

I left work early on the 30th, changed into running gear, and headed out. Here's the complication: we went out for lunch during work. To a place called Melt. If you know anything about Melt you know the sandwiches are gigantic and they have a great beer selection. I had an amazing 9.3% ABV beer (Weyerbacher Merry Monks, a favorite this season), and a grilled cheese sandwich / soup / salad combo. We didn't get seated for a billion years, so we didn't return to the office until 2:30 or 3. I tried to sober up a for an hour, then headed home to run. I know, no bueno. Don't do this.

The ribbon is so pretty.
I wasn't going for a PR, but I thought being able to choose my route without dodging people might help my overall time. My tummy sloshed and I knew I'd be happy with a revised goal of under 30 minutes. ;) Just after mile 2 Alex drove by on his way home from work. He circled around and stopped to chat. (I paused my Garmin.) We didn't chat past, "I'll be home in a few!" but I thought I'd include it in my report for full disclosure. After the interruption, I finished the run and actually half sprinted the last .11!

Mile Splits
1 mi       9:10
2 mi       9:19
3 mi       9:06
3.11 mi  7:53

Final Time28:27 (9:09 m/m)
Overall: 6 / 26 (23%)

Who knows how reliable the posted times are from the other participants. First place had a conveniently rounded off time of 20:00. I was a bit worried I did something wrong and would never get my medal, but reason took over (I began worrying about 2 days after I signed up) and the medal arrived in six business days. It's one of the nicest medals I've seen. Alex loved it (and didn't think I was weird for signing up)! I think I'd do another virtual race if the charity is something I'm interested in. I do enjoy seeing photos from other people's virtual races. I wish I'd taken some photos during my run!

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