Monday, October 17, 2022

Principal 5K Road Race - 2022 recap

Have you ever, as a runner, had a last-minute change of course (literally)?

Well, this wasn't just a change of course, it also was a change of registration. Switching from the half marathon to the 5K not only shaved 10 miles off my race day, but also gave my recent bodily grievances a break. Oh, and there was that unexpected age group award...

This past weekend was the 21st year of the IMT Des Moines Marathon, and my 11th year participating in the festivities. No doubt, this is something I look forward to every year and I'm no stranger to all the fun: 

***I have run the Half Marathon in 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 20152016, 2018, 2019 and 2021
***I ran the Full Marathon in 2014
***I ran the 5K in 2015 (as part of the 5K/13.1 Combo)
***I ran the Mercy Live Up Loop 5-mile in 2016 (as part of the 5 Mile/13.1 Combo) and also in 2017 and 2021
My collection of medals from years past...

So yeah. For the first time ever, I down-scaled a race registration. Amazingly, it really was an easy decision, and it was made without much deliberation nor any regrets. Since I was switching to a shorter distance (which had a less expensive registration price tag), there was no additional fee, but I did have to make that adjustment onsite at the expo (since I'd waited until practically the last minute).

Anyways, race day arrived, bringing with it cool temps, but little-to-no wind. I was totally fine with that! Since I was "only" running 3.1 miles, though, I was a little unsure how many layers I'd need. I took a gamble with a tank top (with arm warmers) layered under a flannel-lined long-sleeved top, and capri leggings (spoiler: I nailed it!)

Barb and I arrived in downtown Des Moines a little before 7:30. She was running the half marathon, which had an 8:00 start time; my 5K didn't start until 8:30. As we were making our way towards the start line area, we ran into some of our fellow teammates from the Market-to-Market Relay! Lauren and Mary were running the full, and Mae and Rebecca were running the half. Small world, huh!

Barb headed out to the street, and took her place among the others. I got to stay back and watch. Yes, it did feel weird to not be lining up beside her, among the huge crowd of long-distance runners. But, I didn't have any feelings of sadness or remorse (though there was a tad bit of FOMO, LOL).

Once all the marathoners, half-marathoners, and first-leg relay runners were past the start line, several of us 5K-ers headed out into the street. The announcers were great entertainment while many of us did  dynamic stretches and warm-up drills. I contemplated going for an easy-paced 1-mile run to loosen-up the legs, but I didn't want to "waste" a mile before the race even started not knowing if my legs would even want to run 3.1 miles. Instead, I chatted with a couple of gals and we exchanged recommendations on bucket lists marathons (Flying Pig, Twin Cities, Detroit, Fargo, Route 66, Marine Crops...just to name a few).

Needless to say, those 30 minutes went quickly. Before long, Court Street was filling up with runners again; this time it was the Principal 5K racers.

Although I knew I had made the right decision in switching to the 5K, I still was unsure how the morning would play out. Even though 3.1 miles is a lot shorter than the half marathon, it still was a race. And, let's not forget, the 5K distance is not exactly my favorite race distance. Alas, it's almost like my Garmin was trying to tell me something when I pulled it from the charger...

So, the Principal 5K begins!

We headed east, on Court Street with a quick right turn down SW 2nd Street. A very short while later (like, two city blocks), had us turning right onto MLK Parkway. 

Did I mention that, right outta the gate, my glute/upper hammy was not happy? Nothing really hurt, but oh, did things feel tight! As we continued on MLK, eventually passing the 1-mile mark, all I could think about was how thankful I was that I'd listened to my body (and followed my gut instinct). I would have had all kinds of anxiety had there been double digit miles on my plate (and I'm not usually an anxious person). 

Shortly after the 1-mile mark, the route veered northwest (on 12th Street), taking on a slight incline. Ugh, that was NOT what my grumpy glute was craving. I glanced at the Garmin, and saw I'd run that first mile in 8:45. I was both relieved (that I hadn't started out any faster) and nervous (because that 8:45 split had felt tougher than it should have).

The race course then took us to Locust Street, where we turned left (going west). A short ways later, the route curved south (onto 15th). There was a water station near the 1.5-mile mark, so I grabbed a cup and took a short walk break. We then went east, back on MLK. I could see the 2-mile mark up ahead, a short distance past the Mile 25 sign (for the marathoners). 

Although I wasn't feeling fatigued, my mind and body just weren't working in sync. The grumpy glute did feel (finally!) like it was starting to loosen up, but it still had just enough tightness that it made me feel like I'd been running the entire race uphill. I did take another short walk break, somewhere in the second half of the second mile.

As we neared the 3-mile mark (still on MLK), the route took us on a short out-and-back before turning north (back on 12th Street) for the final jaunt back to where we'd started. The crowd support was nice, which made the last climb up 12th more enjoyable than taxing.

A quick left turn, on Court Street, and the finish line was less than a city block away. Before I knew it, I'd crossed the finish line, turned off the Garmin, and had my finisher medal in hand. Whew! And I was glad to be done. 

How did I do? It wasn't my worst 5K, but it definitely wasn't my best, either.

I had an approximate hour before Barb would be coming through the chute, so I took my time walking around. I snapped a few pics, did some stretching, grabbed a carton of chocolate milk and meandered over to the results tent. 

And then, wow. I had a moment of shock and disbelief.

Seeing the 3rd place age group finish really caught me off guard. Don't get me wrong, I'm not discounting my efforts, performance or finish time. But, this was a 5K (my least favorite distance) and my grumpy glute had given me quite a bit of attitude for most of those 3.1 miles. This certainly brightened my day! (hold that thought...and see the footnote, below)

My stats showed my third place AG was from a field of 25 other "old gals." Also, I placed 69th out of the 390 women racers, and 166th (overall) out the 646 total racers. Things that make you go Hmmmm, right?

As for Barb and Allison (who we found after the race), they both had sub-2:00 finishes!!!

How about the swag! I gotta confess, I had the option to swap my Half Marathon hoody for the 5K shirt (I had to wait to do that after the race, though)...and the 5K shirt was kinda meh. It actually was almost an identical color and style as last year's half marathon jacket. So, I opted to just keep this year's half marathon hoody. I know, I know...I didn't run the 2022 half marathon, but I've run it nine other times. I'll just treat this hoody as a promo piece of swag. Besides, it's such a pretty color!

In addition to the hoody (the full marathoners got olive green hoodies), all participants got socks,  courtesy of DMOS (Des Moines Orthopedic Surgeons, who sponsored the expo). BTW, they are the surgery group who took care of me, back in 2017, when I had my knee surgery.

And, the Principal 5K medal features the Principal Tower, a famous landmark in downtown Des Moines (home of Principal Financial Group, who sponsored the 5K race). Nice, huh!

...and that's the end of the story. 

Well, there is a small footnote...... 
I learned, late Sunday evening, that I actually placed fourth in my age group, LOL. It's an odd thing. The final results show that I still had the same place standings elsewhere (among the women and overall), so I don't know if this mysterious other gal's age had previously been in error? I'd gotten my printout quite awhile after finishing the race, so it's strange the standings would change after so much time had elapsed. Oh well, a fourth place AG is still a victory for me. Onward!

Have you ever had to scale-back to a shorter distance, due to injury? Do you have a favorite event that offers various distance options on race day (or over a weekend)? Ever have an age group award "taken" from you after the fact? 

I'm linking this with Kim and Zenaida for the Tuesday Topics Link-Up

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  1. Congratulations on the 3rd place! Or fourth… but to me, it’s still 3rd! 😄
    I hope your glutes/hamstring didn’t complain too much the next day.
    A great decision to drop to the 5k, although there’s always a tiny bit of FOMO involved.
    I love the blue hoody!

    1. Yes, there was a bit of FOMO, just (surprisingly) not as much as I expected. I guess that's a good thing, huh ;-)

  2. The shirt is gorgeous. I need to runfess that last year I had to make the same call about whether to run a half or drop to a shorter distance (due to training not going well, not due to injury) and 99% of the decision to stay with the half was because I'm stubborn and 1% of the decision was because on the shirt, which I wear often.

    I'm a huge fan of marathons that offer multiple distances on race day because it allows everyone to participate. Congrats on a great race day!

    1. I agree, it's nice when big marathons offer a full weekend of stuff, including a variety of race distances. I have yet to do the marathon relay for this event, but I have done the relay (twice) for the Quad Cities marathon. That's a really fun way to do the "marathon," but not with all the miles (of course, the team camaraderie is awesome!).

  3. Yay! Congratulations on your race and, er, AG award (ha ha... they shouldn't be allowed to do that!) It sounds like you definitely made the right decision to run the 5k. Oh and I like how your Garmin gives you motivational messages (unlike mine, which gives me dire warnings.) I hope everything is feeling good this week!

    1. This was the first time - ever- the Garmin gave me such a message! I guess that was fate intervening?

  4. Hooray on the ag award. You made the right decision. Why risk making an injury worse?

    I have not scaled back. Knock on wood. My injuries were broken bones so no running!!

    My friends and I are looking at a run next October than has a 5k, 10k, half and 20 miler. It's perfect in case one has to scale down.

    1. Those events are perfect for that very reason...something for everyone, no matter their fitness level or distance preference.

  5. A fourth and that finish time is still a huge win in my books so congratulations Kim! Sounds like it was also the right decision to do the 5K instead of the Half. I recently did that - I was signed up for the Kanye Half but chose to change it to 10K - I wasn't injured but I was so under-trained that I didn't want to put myself through a long hilly race in a foreign town. And I must say I didn't even have FOMO at the start as I was so relieved to be running a shorter distance on those hills!

    1. I did have a tiny bit of FOMO, mainly because I've done the 13.1 nine other times. But, I was so relieved (at mile-1) that I didn't have 12 more miles waiting for me, LOL.

  6. sounds like you definitely made the right decision to scale down. I feel you on the glutes and hip and hamstring oh my! I am glad it turned out well for you and you still had a good time

    1. Thankfully, my hip is feeling fine...but the glute/hammy is still feeling kind of cranky. It's functional, but def not back to 100% yet.

  7. I think it was a good idea to move from the half to the 5K, and it sounds like your glutes agree. Congrats on your 3th (3rd + 4th = 3th) place age group finish. I once received a plaque for 1st place AG in a local marathon and YEARS later when doing research for a blog recap found the results online and saw where I'd actually placed 3rd and they'd mixed up the order at the awards presentation. Oops!

    1. Oh wow! That would be an awkward discovery, after the fact!

  8. Its always nice when races have multiple distance options. There's something for everyone and its nice if you need to change your distance at the last minute! That's strange about your age group placement, but I'd still count it as 3rd! Congrats!

  9. I remember a few years ago I dropped down from the RnR Chicago Half to the 10K and it was such a great decision. This is why I love races that offer different mileage options!

  10. Congrats, Kim! 3rd or 4th place you are still a winner in my book. 5ks are still hard and an accomplishment.

  11. Congrats Kim! Sounds like you made the right call on swapping distances. 5Ks are tough to race.