For me, this was almost the race that wasn't. My original goal was to run the 10K, as it would have been about the time in my half marathon training that I would have been ready for it. But a nagging pain after running in my ankle led to me table running until I could talk to the doctor about it. But I could still walk, and I needed to get some exercise that day, so why not just walk it? I know not all races are a good candidate for walking, but I was familiar with this one: the runners in it are fast, but it's also a good-sized race that a lot of people walk just for fun, and the race organizers do a good job of accommodating all racers. Besides, how could I resist a free t-shirt and pumpkin?
I also wanted to try out my spiffy Zensah tights in a race, and this was looking like my only opportunity to do so before the half marathon. They worked great! No chafing and they kept my legs warm but not too hot. I think they will be terrific for Vegas!
Now, you know I couldn't just stroll this thing. I made it into an experiment: could I sustain the pace needed to walk the Las Vegas Rock & Roll Half Marathon in less than the cutoff time? I targeted the pace at which I almost break into a jog, the point at which my rear end starts doing what I call the "race walking waddle." On a treadmill, this is 4 mph, so I figured 45 minutes for the 5K was a good target.
Like most races, I slept poorly the night before and got up early. Unlike most race mornings, I ate not the greatest breakfast: 3 donut holes and a cheese stick. I knew they'd have lots of coffee at the event site, and I would have plenty of time to drink it, so I headed on down there. I registered and got my pumpkin, t-shirt, and bib. I also got my lovely, lovely coffee...so I was ready! But it wasn't time yet, so there was lots of time to mill around and look for familiar faces. I saw Thing 2's kindergarten teacher from last year (who was doing her first race with a "baby on board"! Fun news to start the day!) and her husband. I saw some moms I knew, and I took pictures for people so they'd have the whole family in there. I took my bio break.
The race organizers called for volunteers to help hand out goodie bags and medals for the kids' 1K race. So I got to hang medals on those beaming little faces as they darted past the finish line. Too stinkin' cute!!! That made my morning.
The 10K racers went, then the 5K racers. I started about 3/4 of the way back and to the far right, and the runners dashed past. I passed a number of walkers and just kept going at a good clip. At about mile 1, I fell in step with a gal who had planned to run the 10K but whose ankle started bothering her and so she decided to walk it instead. We walked together and chatted for a little over a mile, up to the 10K turn off. I then kicked back into speed mode and hauled posterior for the last mile.
Here I am at the finish line! My time was 44:09 (a 14:13 pace), and I felt delighted! Although the entry form has separate categories for runners and walkers, the race results lump everyone together. I was 213/358, and had I remembered to write my age on the entry form (this was pre-coffee!), I would have showed up as 29/47 in my age group.
The demographics of the race are really interesting: the runners make it a fast field and it's mostly middle-aged women. Some interesting numbers:
- The largest age/gender groups were the females 40-49 for the 10K and females 50-59 for the 5K.
- In the 5K race, 28% of the entire field finished in less than 30 minutes and 9.5% averaged a pace of less than 8 minutes per mile.
- For the 10K, 71% finished in less than 1 hour, and 26% averaged a pace of less than 8 minutes per mile.
- In the 5K, the top male finisher was 41 years old and finished with a time of 18:31, and the top female finisher was 38 years old and finished with a time of 22:26. (I think she was one of the group of crazy folks who *swam* down from a beach a couple of miles up the coast from the race site. The water here is cold, rough, and the weather threatened rain and it was probably dark when they started. Ugh.)
- The top runner in my age group finished with an enviable time of 25:43.
Basking in the afterglow! Aaaaaaah!
P.S. No picture of the days after, where my tune changed from "Aaaaah!" to "Oooooow!" I totally underestimated the power of race walking: it used some muscles that have been dormant even through biking and swimming and running and even just regular walking. My glutes and hips felt the aftermath for days!
P.P.S. The ankle seems to be doing better. My doctor referred me to a podiatrist, who prescribed new shoes and custom orthotics for my athletic shoes. It turns out I suppinate. (Oooo! I made a punny!) I'll post more details on another day....