The NHL All Star Game was held in Raleigh this weekend, and as many of you may know . . . I am a huge hockey fan. When it come to football, I love the Raiders, but I don't really watch Football just to watch football. However, when it comes to Hockey, I'll watch just about any two teams play. I just love the sport! Therefore when the All Star 5k was announced, I knew that I had to be there. I didn't really care about going to the All Star game itself because I am not a fan of All Star games in any sport. Mainly because they aren't really playing a real game, but that is a whole different subject. When it came to the race the only reason I was reluctant to sign up was that I knew that I would be flying back into town from Hawaii at the beginning of the week, jet lagged, and exhausted on race day. After going back and forth about signing up for awhile, I finally decided to sign up about a week before I left for Hawaii. My logic was that I would more than likely run about 3 miles on that Saturday as a regular workout so I may as well join the race and show my hockey spirit -- sounds logical enough, right!?!
I knew that Hiroko would have to work on the day of the race, so I would be attending this race solo, and decided not to bring my camera for fear of dropping and breaking it. On the morning of the race I felt like crap. I felt really rundown and just had very little energy, but I pulled myself together and started getting ready for the race. Even though I live in Raleigh, I am not a Hurricane fan -- I am a Caps fan. However, I do kind of root for the Canes when they are not playing the Caps and I am at the game, but I do not wear ANY Canes gear to the games. Instead I wear an old Hartford Whalers tee-shirt (The Hurricanes were the Whalers before moving to Raleigh. For my non-hockey fan reader, so the shirt is actually appropriate), which I decided to wear over my running clothes.
Another problem that I was having to deal with was about a 40 degree swing in temperatures. Hawaii had been around 70 degrees at 7am when I ran in the Harold Chapson 8k on Sunday, but on Saturday the temp was about 34 degrees at the start of The NHL All Star 5k. I was having a lot of problems getting adjusted and just couldn't get warmed up. I really didn't want to expend a lot of energy trying to get warm and then be beat at the start of the race, so I just tried to keep moving before the start of the race. Also, I hadn't run the course before, nor gone over it before the race. I had looked over the course map but wasn't really sure about the inclines and declines. The race was being held at the RBC Center, so I had some idea, but I thought that the course was more flat than it turned out.
Overall the organization of the race was well done. The course was well marked, there were plenty of volunteers and tons of refreshments. The race had timing devices at both the start and finish for a true chip time. On the downside, there wasn't any tabling at the event and the start wasn't broken up between recreational runners and competitive, nor did they attempt to have people separate themselves by pace. I noticed that this was the case and decided with over 2,000 participants, I should get close to the front if I didn't want to be weaving around people walking for the entire first mile. I trusted myself to get out of the way of faster runners more than I trusted others to get out of my way, so I lined up with runners that I knew were at a much higher level than mine. The downside of this was that it contributed to me running the first mile faster than I wanted or needed to run it.
First mile mark!
The first mile was basically a lap around the RBC center and had the most significant decline of the race. As I said I started the race with runners that were much faster than I, so I immediately moved over to the side and tried to stay out of the way, which wasn't hard until about the 3/4 mile mark when I caught up to the kids, who had sprinted from the start and were gassed just before the first mile. I had to weave through them and actually did end up bumping someone that abruptly stopped running right in front of me. However, I really didn't have nearly as many issues as in the past with a mass start. I think that the cold kept a lot of the non-runners inside the RBC center, until just before the start, and the road we were running on was pretty wide and didn't cause a lot of bunching that I have encountered at other races. I did the first mile in 8:03.48, and felt like crap by the end of it. My lungs and legs felt fine, with no effect from the cold at all, but my diaphragm was different matter. It was having trouble expanding. I felt as if I were running with someone pushing on my gut right above my stomach.
Things got worse during mile 2, and I really wasn't sure that I would be able to run the whole course. Mile 2 was almost entirely uphill. The inclines were not steep but just constant. we passed the starting line then ran through the parking lot road past Carter Finley Stadium and out onto Trinity Rd. Trinity was a long straight run up a gradual incline. It was boring, ugly, and just sucked. My diaphragm was still giving me problems, and I started to feel a little tightness in my right quad as I turned onto Trinity, but it passed quickly and was gone by the water station at the end of mile 2. I got some water, but once again didn't drink it and just washed out my mouth. I finished mile two in 9:26.24
Mile three was a mixed bag. I finally started to feel something close to alright at the beginning of the third mile when we turned onto Blue Ridge Road. My daiphragm felt better but the good feeling as a whole was short lived. I felt good for all of Blue Ridge and most of West Chase Rd., but as I turned back into the parking lot I was really struggling and the last half of the third mile was horrid. I was running alright but fighting not to stop or puke. I know that this sounds contradictory, but I just kept my legs moving as fast as I could because I just wanted this race to end. I did mile three in 8:18.72
Feelin's so rough that I can't turn off my watch correctly
The last 10th of a mile was harsh, I tried to pick up the pace, but just didn't have much of a kick. I am not sure just how fast I ran it because I was so messed up when I crossed the finish line that I didn't stop my watch until well after my chip had been removed. After the race I just stumble of to the side and lay down flat on my back for a good 5mins. I stuck around to stretch and see the official results, which were posted almost as quickly as people finished, actually impressive how quickly they were up, and what was also impressive was that I was still ghostly pale and had dark zombie eyes when I got to my car. Really, I looked ill! Not like a person who had just spent a week sunning in Hawaii. My official time for the race was 26:19, which is a time that is fine with me considering how bad I felt coming into this race!