Hi everyone! It’s time for another race recap! Yes, I’ve been racing like crazy because there are so many fun races here in June. And yes, I have another one coming up this weekend 🙂 But first let me recap last weekend’s race, the Alaska Run For Women! This is a 5 mile race here in Anchorage that is only open to women and around 7,000 people participated this year. The race is donation-based and the proceeds go towards breast cancer and women’s health awareness. The cool thing about this race is that there’s a spot for everyone: there’s a 1 mile race, a 5 mile timed race, a 5 mile untimed race, and a 5 mile untimed “Party Wave” where groups of people and strollers can participate. I signed up for the 5 mile timed race, and was confident in a PR considering that my current 5 mile PR was set at the Kris Kringle 5 Miler in PA in pouring freezing rain in 55:34. After running super fast in the Twilight 12k the weekend before, I was feeling even more confident. I mean, what’s keeping me from sub-10:00 miles, right?
Well, I basically let this race get away from me earlier in the week. I had plans on running 5 additional miles after the race to complete my 2 hour long run requirement, so I was trying to mentally prepare for that. I’d been having some stomach issues all week, so I basically fueled for this race with soup. I also spent Friday night at a friend’s house, which led to sitting around the fire talking until midnight. After coming home and trying to wash the smoky smell out of my hair, it was 1:00 am…and I had a 6:30 wake up! When my alarm went off I really didn’t think I was going to be able to make it out of bed. I was so thirsty and tired, but managed to eat breakfast and drink a few cups of water before rushing out the door. And I was immediately concerned about the heat and sun because I’m the worst at running in anything warmer than 60 degrees.
Andrew dropped me off at the race start, which was really well organized. I ended up not seeing anyone from my HTH training group to run with, so I started the race alone. I could tell right away that this was going to be a crazy race – despite the fact that there were 2 untimed waves for walkers, there were a lot of people walking right at the start line, wearing crazy shoes (sandals in a 5 miler?) and many people loudly complaining about how much their feet hurt and how tired they were right away. I have no problem with this – but please start farther back from the start line (and I wasn’t even that close to the front because you all know I’m slow) so that you don’t cause anyone to trip or get injured! It was dangerous having so many people walk/stop suddenly in the beginning of the race because the road was full of runners and it was hard to get around anyone safely. Luckily, there was a hill right away and many people stopped to walk. I happily ran up the hill towards mile 1! This part of the course was downtown and featured a few bands, lots of cheering people, and a much thinner crowd of runners. We ran down the hill to the coastal trail, and as we made our way towards the lagoon I really started to feel the effects of little sleep, not enough water, and weaving around so many people at the start. I started stopping for water breaks frequently and began seeing spots in front of my eyes. I felt like I was so hot and couldn’t handle it. As I ran along the lagoon I realized that even though there were only 2 more miles, I still had so many to run after this. So I stopped to walk. And then my awesome running buddy Besa found me! She forced me to keep on running, and although I had to take another walk break towards the end I have to give her credit for getting me across the finish line. We finished on a track and I was beyond excited to see the time clock at 53:15!
I ended up being in the top 1/3 of about 1,500 timed finishers which is exciting for this mid-to-back of the pack runner! I was so relieved to be done and couldn’t wait to drink a crazy amount of water. The race food consisted of bagels, bananas, and oranges with Odwalla smoothies and protein bars. We also got snow cones and free bread from Great Harvest Bread Co!
After eating, Besa and I walked around with her son taking ridiculously fun pictures. We both got a PR and we were ready to celebrate!
After cooling down, I decided to go run the rest of my 5 miles. But like 30 seconds into it I realized it was just not going to happen. I ended up going home and spending all day feeling sick on the couch with a huge headache. I managed to run my 2 hour long run the next day after getting some extra sleep and water.
Overall, this was a good race and I’m glad I ran it. Pros:
- A fun women’s only race that’s open to people of all athletic levels. The party wave looked like fun!
- The route was a loop – I hate out and back courses!
- There were water stops every mile which was helpful in the heat.
- The course had some great spectators and a few random bands and musicians that were out to support the runners.
- IT DIDN’T END ON A HILL! PRAISE THE LORD!
- The finish line was really fun because it ended on a track with lots of spectators.
- There was pre-race yoga and post-race zumba.
- The food was amazing! Cinnamon chip bread from Great Harvest Bread Co. is my favorite thing ever, and it tasted so good after running all those miles! Plus snow cones were so perfect for the weather.
- The race was donation based (suggested $25) and the money went to a great cause.
- There were multiple locations/times for packet pickup which went really quickly.
Things I didn’t really like:
- The race entry didn’t include a shirt, which I didn’t realize until after the race. But to be fair, this actually ended up being awesome because you could purchase a shirt and choose from like 10 options – both tech and cotton! I bought a pink short sleeved tech shirt that has a really cute design on it.
- There were never any race etiquette announcements, so at the beginning things were kind of rough on the course. I loved seeing so many runners there but felt that it would have been good to have people safely start in a place where everyone could go at their own pace. The starting road was under construction and I had to swerve around people and construction signs for the first half mile before things cleared out, and it was my slowest mile.
Now to some more serious things: yes, I got a PR. But I spend Saturday feeling really upset about this race. I know I caused a lot of pain by staying up late and I’m mad at myself. I wish I could have done it all over again without the false understanding that I was going to run another 5 miles afterwards, and with a much earlier bedtime. My mile times are actually pretty good when you consider that I was walking a good 30 seconds/1 minute of each mile, and all I could think was “What if I had pushed myself harder?” and even more upsettingly, “What if this happens on HTH race day?”. I hate that I’m able to give up so easily and wish that I was better at pushing harder. I’ll just have to take this PR and hope that next year I’m ready to go as hard as I can!
Have you ever run a women’s only race? How do you talk yourself into pushing harder when you’re tired and thirsty? And have you ever gotten a PR but still been disappointed in your race?