I had planned to use the Skirt Chasers 5k as a test of whether or not my speed workouts were resulting in any gains. I don’t know the answer to that question, because when I arrived at Mile High Stadium (sorry, Sports Authority- I can’t bring myself to call it “The Authority”) this is what greeted me:
Considering I don’t live in Phoenix, the Sahara Desert, or Hell, I am completely unaccustomed to running in that kind of heat. I’d even go so far as to say I specifically avoid it. However, I don’t live in a vacuum, and I knew the race was going to be capital H- Hot. Hydration was going to be key, so I spent the day before and the day of the race drinking water like it was my job, including an entire liter of water during the 2o minute drive to the field.
The concept behind the Skirt Chasers race series is really fun: the women start (ideally in a running skirt, which is included in your race fee) and then three minutes later, the men start. You are not only racing for your own time, but also for the honor of your gender. However, despite all my attempts at hydration, my mouth was dry before the men even started. The entire race took place on the grounds of Mile High- meaning that the vast majority of it was on black tar asphalt. My feet were burning up by about 5 minutes in.
The first man passed me at about the 3/4 mile mark (which I was actually pretty proud of- I thought it would happen sooner). When I arrived at the first water station, at the one mile mark, there were a lot of guys there ahead of me. And a lot of racers (of both genders) took a walk break. I decided to tough it out, and was rewarded for my efforts with a mild hill and a strong urge to puke. At about a mile and a quarter, I decided there was no shame in walking. According to the mapmyrun app, my first mile split was about 11 minutes, which probably means that first guy to pass me finished his first mile somewhere in the 7-8 minute per mile range. Yeah.
I crested that hill at about a mile and half, and decided the downhill, on concrete, and punctuated with trees was a good place to get going again. I let go of my legs and just let them carry me down, passing several guys on the way. Normally I don’t notice that much about the other racers, but this race is designed for you to notice them. Blessedly, at the bottom of this hill was a second water station (that’s right, a 5k with two water stations. Thank goodness the race organizers paid attention to the weather).
As the race course came back around and hugged the stadium, and really started to heat up again, I was rewarded for my pride in passing some men in being passed by a dude wearing cut off jean shorts. Ego. Checked.
It was about then that I had to revise my goal down from a hopeful PR to instead finishing without puking. Sometimes you just have to know when enough is enough. The last half of the third mile is actually a lap around the field, which was pretty neat. However, when you enter the tunnel to get to the field, you learn that the tunnel is air conditioned. I wanted to lay down on the cold concrete and stay there. Probably the only reason I didn’t do that was because the race photographers had stationed themselves there.
The lap around the field was pretty neat. I met an awesome lady named Patty, when I jogged up next to her (she was walking) and suggested to her that she jog, after all, she didn’t want Bucky the Bronco to see her walking! We jogged the rest of the way around the field together. In a cruel twist, the race course goes back out in to the heat, through another air conditioned tunnel, and up a hill to the final .1 mile. I decided that hill was the perfect time to walk. Patty caught me walking, though, and made me run again, once outside. I finished strong, right at 36:03.
I have never been so proud of 12 minute miles.