Monday, October 2, 2017

Kickoff to Kinnick 5K Recap


What happens when your Alma Mater, the University of Iowa, hosts a big event (coincidentally) right after your running sabbatical has ended?

Well, my answer is to register and get my buttocks to the start line!


Now in its fourth year, the Kickoff to Kinnick 5K (event details HERE ) happened on Saturday, September 30th. Not only is this a huge draw for Iowa Hawkeye football fans, but it also appeals to those of us who have a certain fondness for its beneficiary, The University of Iowa Dance Marathon (more info HERE), and its year-round work to provide support for children afflicted with  cancer and their families.
This medal...it's huge and heavy! I could use it as a door stop.
As mentioned, the timing of this event could not have been more perfect. Truthfully, I don't do many 5K's these days. Even though most 5K's benefit charitable causes, I kind of shy away from that short distance...not because it's a tough distance to run, but because it's a challenging distance to race. UGH. It's essentially a 3.1-mile (high-speed) sprint.

Anyways, I had heard of this event but had shunned it in previous years because it was "just a 5K" and I usually had other events (or long runs) on my calendar instead. As you know, though, this fall is the exception to all things typical for my running schedule. I decided to register (back in early August, I believe) with the hopes of being able to run the entire distance or, at the very least, being able to walk the course as a last resort.

Alas, my recovery progressed right on schedule, and I was granted clearance from my surgeon to return to running (albeit slow and gradually). The timing was perfect...I had a couple weeks to do a few short runs (with walk intervals), and felt ready for race day.

September 30 arrived, and we had ample sunshine and perfect race day temps (it was predicted to be 56-degrees at start time). The hubby and I rode up with Barb (that favorite running/training/gal pal friend of mine). With a 9:00 start time, we didn't have to leave town until around 7:15 (arriving in Iowa City around 8:15), and still had plenty of time to use the potty, walk to the staging area, and do some easy warm-ups.


What a crowd of people! It almost felt like game day as we all gathered right outside of the Carver-Hawkeye Arena. All of the parking lots were already filled with cars (many of which had running stickers) instead of the usual RV's and tailgate parties, and there were numerous porta-pots.

The National Anthem was played, and the race began....only we weren't going anywhere. We didn't realize it at the time, but this race had a staggered "wave" start. We were back much farther than we should have been, but we foolishly believed those in front of us were legit runners and it would only be a matter of time until we all were crossing the start line (hold that thought).
Barb and myself crossing the start line
The thing is, once we got moving, I saw a lot of walkers (and strollers) up ahead of us. I thought it odd that there were so many walkers towards the front of the race. The first 1/4 mile or so was a pretty fast downhill, and it was tough dodging all the people in front of (and alongside) us.

As for me, I was feeling good! I had no intention of "racing" this course, so I just ran based on feel. I had worn a short sleeved tech top (with arm warmers) under a 1/4 zip jacket and was already feeling warm. About a 1/4 mile or so before the first mile mark, we turned a sharp corner and began a long ascent up a hill. I was still passing a lot of walkers (many of which were walking in groups of 2-4 people), and I had to keep alternating between running on the sidewalk, the grass boulevard, and the actual street because it was so crowded.

There was a water stand around the 1.5-mile mark, so I pulled over to  grab a water and walk for a bit as I drank it. I also tried to shimmy the arm warmers (under my jacket sleeves) down to my wrists so my arms wouldn't be so hot. And, yes, I was still passing obvious walkers at that point, which indicated they had started way up towards the front of the line-up (Seriously???).

It was just before the 2-mile mark when we turned left onto Finkbine and started our trek towards Kinnick Stadium. We had a bit of gradual hill for a short while, then (at about the 2-1/4 mile mark) we had a nice, gradual downhill for most of the remaining route. My arm warmers were driving me crazy, so I pulled over to walk briefly as I slid them the rest of the way off (out from under my {fitted} jacket sleeves AND over the Garmin on my left wrist and the bracelets on my right...do you know how tight those arm warmers get when your arms are sweaty?).

I could tell my legs were getting tired, but I knew I didn't have much farther to go, so I kept on moving. As I made my way off of Melrose, and into the main parking lot of Kinnick, I could hear the (post-race) band playing. Before I knew it, we were lead into the "underground" beneath the stadium and then out through the tunnel and onto the field! The finish line was a short ways from there...and just like that, I was done. I had finished my first post-recovery race!

My official finish time was 29:56 (although my Garmin showed 29:57), and my splits were 9:01, 10:48, 9:08...yes, it's pretty obvious there was a little walking in that second mile at the water station and then for the arm warmer removal(s). Don't forget, the first mile started off with a substantial downhill for the first 1/4 mile or so, and then was flat for awhile. The second mile was mostly uphill, and the final mile had a gradual decline. That said, I'm pretty happy with my finish time. Although it's a good 3-1/2 minutes slower than "usual," this finish time was a long-awaited conquest after an upheaval of a summer.

It took me a minute to get my bearings, catch my breath, and grab my medal. Right away, I found Barb (and another mutual friend, Nettie...who won her age group!)...
Myself, Nettie, and Barb
...and a short while later, I found the hubby.

It was fun hanging out on the field and checking out the view from the turf.



That would be the Children's Hospital...the object of the now famous Hawkeye Wave (during the home football games)
We all were happy with our finish times. Barb actually placed 9th in her age group! My stats showed that I placed 22nd (out of 148) in my age group, 416th (out of 2279) for females, and was the overall 989th finisher out of 3627 total participants.  

As you can see, the swag was pretty sweet.... the shirt is a gender-specific fit (with a scooped neck; NOT a crew neck #win), the race bibs were unique, the medal is really heavy (maybe 2-pounds?) and has a bottle opener where the ribbon is attached, and the early-bird registrants also received the cool neck gaiters. 


Over all, I thought the pre-race communication was thorough, and everything seemed well organized on race day. The registration was a bit pricey (I think we paid $40 plus a couple dollars for processing), which is a bit steep for a 5K in Iowa. The only thing I really had issue with was the line-up. This was a big event on a pretty crowded course....it would have been so much smoother if there would have been designated (and enforced!) corrals for walkers and those with strollers. Granted, this was an event geared towards family and in support of a charity. Even though I certainly was not a contender for winning anything (or even "racing" the course for that matter), it was really frustrating (and dangerous) having to dodge so many walkers for the first mile (and then some). Even with the staggered waves, it was very congested at the start line.

A perk that came with our registration was a free beer at Backpocket Brewing after the race. We may have taken advantage....

So, that's my story of returning to racing after a 3-month (forced) sabbatical. Have you ever been sidelined for a few months from a sport that you love? If so, did you have a monumental event that welcomed you back? What do you think of finisher medals for a 5K?

**I'm linking up with Marcia and Patty and Erika for Tuesdays on the Run... We're talking about Fall 2017 racing schedules. Join the party!



**And with Nicole and Annmarie for the Wild Wednesday Workout

**And with Deb for the Wednesday Word (consequently, this month's word is struggle...like running behind all of those walkers for almost the first half of the race))


**And with Susie and Debbie and Rachel and Lora for the Running Coaches' Corner.

38 comments:

  1. Congrats on a triumphant return to racing! Love all the Hawkeye colors. That's a hella nice medal for a 5k!

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    1. Thanks! Yes, this medal is crazy big and heavy!

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  2. Congrats! That's a great finish time for a race with walkers and strollers up front!

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    1. Oh gosh...there were SO many walkers! That's a good thing, but not always convenient when they're up front...

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  3. Great job on your finish! I agree a 5k is tough to "race" because you are going at a much faster pace than you normally would at a longer distance.

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    1. I have a new respect for the 5K distance...it's not just a walk in the park LOL

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  4. Sounds like a fun race! That's a lot of cool swag for a 5k :)

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    1. I was really impressed with the swag, too! We don't typically see that kind of stuff for a 5K in Iowa LOL

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  5. Congrats! That's an awesome finish time and I love the medal!!

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    1. Thanks ;-) The medal definitely is pretty cool ;-)

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  6. That sounds like a pretty damn good time to me! I think you did great & that's amazing swag for a 5k.

    Don't get me started on wave starts and finding some room to run at the moment . . .

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    1. The race start was a bit odd...I'm glad we had the staggered waves (each wave was a few minutes apart)...but all the walkers towards the front???

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  7. Congrats! That's a pretty good time (faster than I do a 5k). I love all the swag you got too.

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  8. Congrats on your race! Im amazed at how quickly you've come back from your injury. It must be from all the walking you did!

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  9. Nice job on your return to racing! Our Turkey Trot is like that - walkers in the 2nd row. I find those kind of 5ks so frustrating.

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    1. Seriously? How do "those walkers in the front" not realize they are more of a hazzard than anything? Jumping the line is SO not cool unless you're able to maintain your lead LOL

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  10. That is a lot of swag for a 5k and what a great cause to run for. Seems like it was the perfect day for a comeback! No idea why walkers go up towards the front! Some of those stroller runners are really fast though

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    1. Yes, there definitely were legit runners with strollers...but also a lot of lollygaggers LOL

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  11. Congrats!! In my world any sub-30 5K is awesome! Seems like a great race.

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    1. Thanks! It felt like a substantial comeback ;-)

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  13. Sounds like a fun race and a great way to get back into running!

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  14. Congrats! Sounds like a fun race! I love that medal.

    I personally love 5Ks. There's just something magical about running hard for 3 miles.

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    1. Well, I think 5K's are (kinda) dumb LOL When you have long legs, big feet, and no semblance of natural speed or grace...let's just say it's 3.1 miles of a.w.k.w.a.r.d.

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  15. A 5k sounds like the perfect race distance for your first comeback race. And kudos to you for running a strong race. When's the next race?

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    1. I actually have a 5-miler next weekend ;-)

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  16. Love that you used this event to welcome back running. Congrats! So fun to spend time in the football stadium, being on the field makes everything seem so huge right!

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    1. It was pretty cool being on THE field ;-)

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    1. The medal is pretty neat...I just have to be careful to NOT drop it on my toes

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  18. Congratulations on your fantastic comeback! You are such a dedicated runner and inspiration...LOVE it!!!

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    1. Thanks ;-) This was a fun "comeback" race

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  19. I always find the college 5ks to be the most fun!

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  20. What a perfect race to make your comeback race! When the Hokie Half was first run at Virginia Tech I was so excited that I couldn't stand it! Bill and I ran it the first two years, but it's a four-hour drive to VT and with season tickets to football, adding another weekend's drive to Blacksburg just became too much. We also have a 3.2-mile Run In Remembrance every April to honor and remember the 32 lost on April 16, 2007. We ran it once and even after all these years, it's a very tough and somber race.

    How cool that you got to run through the tunnel and onto the field at the end of the race! During the Run In Remembrance we get to do that, too, AND they have Enter Sandman playing on a loop so everyone gets to run onto the field to Enter Sandman! It's sooooo awesome!

    When I was a marathoner, I had the same attitude toward 5K's. I said that I was lazy and didn't want to run that fast for that long. These days I love 5K's! Don't get me started on people starting at the front of the race who plan to walk. I'm sure they're just clueless and have no idea about proper race etiquette.

    Thanks for linking up!

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