Monday, July 15, 2013

Too Hot to Handle Race Recap

Yesterday was Run Project’s Too Hot To Handle race at White Rock Lake in Dallas, TX.  They offer 15k and 5k race distances.  As a little background on this race, Too Hot to Handle 2012 was my first competitive 5k that inspired the next year of my training.  Before this race last year, I had trained for two half marathons and one 10k, but my boyfriend convinced me it was time to get faster.  And I have!

Back to this year… I registered on-line about a month before the 5k race. Packet pick-up was across the metroplex at a local running chain called Run On!  Multiple packet pick-up locations made it really convenient to get my race bib.  I was able to stop by on my way home from work and collect two race packets for my boyfriend and me without waiting in line.  I was a little surprised that my race packet only included a bib, a hat, and a Chipotle BOGO coupon.  I asked the volunteer who was distributing packets and he explained that this year the t-shirts would be given out after the race. Incentive to finish!

On race morning we left extra early because I was worried about parking.  I drove myself, Daniel, my friend Melissa, and her cousin.  Yay carpooling!  We got to Norbuck Park at 6:30 am -- an hour before the scheduled race start.  I ended up parking on the shoulder of Buckner Road, and I’m pretty sure we walked less than 100 yards to the starting line.  It was a pretty awesome parking spot.  Way closer than last year.

It was still pretty dark when we got to the race and I assumed it was because the sun wasn’t out yet.  I applied sunscreen, visited the port-o-potties, and ran around the nearby baseball fields for warm-up.  During my warm-up jog, I began to realize why it was so dark.  It was raining!!  Something I never expected at “Too Hot To Handle” was temperatures below 80 degrees, cloud cover, and a light rain.  It was all wonderful, and there wasn’t enough rain to make you too wet.  Perfect!

The race started on-time with the 15k runners starting first.  As the 5k runners approached the start they reminded us to turn right as we passed under the first underpass.  This was a change from last year’s course.  I had seen the new course map on-line and was curious.  Last year there was a large hill at the very beginning of the race but was a mostly flat out and back course.  This year was still out and back, but I wasn’t sure what the elevation would be like.

Daniel decided to pace me for this race for which I am very thankful.  Unfortunately, that means less pictures to share.  Bear with me on this long post.  The race begins….

Mile 1 was hectic.  I had to make my way around a lot of slower joggers and walkers.  I accidentally shoved a girl…oops.  I thought I had enough room to pass on her left between her and a parked car.  Well she moved slightly and I was already starting to pass, so I pushed her.  Sorry!!!  Daniel was running behind me and told me later that I definitely didn’t have room to pass, but agreed that she wasn’t running in a straight line.  After getting past the crowd, I felt strong and Daniel was pacing me very well.

Mile 2 was a hill.  I may be exaggerating when I say I ran uphill for a whole mile, but it felt like it.  This was quite a challenge for me and my pace suffered.  I went from 8:40 to 9:06/mi.  After a quick water break after the mile 2 marker, Daniel gave me a look like “It is time to speed it up.”
Mile 3 was fast.  I sped up to keep up with Daniel.  My goal was 8:36 pace to get a new PR and I knew I blew it.  When we were about a quarter mile from the end, he said to me “You can pass at least 50 people in front of you.” So I dug in and pushed to try to pick off runners one by one.  I don’t think I passed 50 people, but I definitely passed some.  I finished mile 3 in 8:17.

Finally the finish line was in sight and I sprinted in the best I could, but of course my legs were so heavy by this point.  I was greeted at the end with an ice cold towel.  Not a bad way to end a race.  My official time was 27:00 flat.  It wasn’t a new PR, but I was happy with how I ran (and I got 4th in my age group!).  I haven’t been exactly focusing on running and my mileage is way down because of the triathlon training. I think if I had more mileage, my cardio endurance would have been better prepared for that hill.
When I reflect back to a year ago, Too Hot to Handle was the first time I had broken 30 minutes on my 5k time.  I finished in 29:58 last year, and after a year of running, I took off nearly 3 minutes from my time.  I’m so proud of myself and owe a lot of my motivation to Daniel for pushing me to be the best version of myself that I can.

After the race, I claimed my New Balance finishers sleeveless t-shirt and then found a popsicle from the RunOn booth.  I toured around and got samples from Muscle Milk, Clif bar, and TCBY.  There was no Slurpee truck this year, but the fro-yo made up for it.  I talked with some other vendors and then decided to leave before the rain picked up.

Overall, it was a well-organized race.  I was disappointed at first that the new 5k route did not go by the lake, but it was still a scenic course (I even saw horses during my run).  Supporting nearly 1500 5k runners and 1500 10k runners is not easy, but Run Project and their sponsors did a great job.  I will be returning next year (especially if they can make the weather cool again).

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