Ah, Freihofer’s . . . the race that I love to hate and love again. It was my very first race ever. Seriously, I “trained” for it for like a year. It’s a 5k.
Fast forward eight years, and I toed the line knowing this wouldn’t be a PR, but still willing to try my best . . . did I? You be the judge!
This was the first time I ran the race since they moved the expo to the Armory. Everyone likes the new space, although it’s just as far away (if not further) than the old expo near the Egg for me. Parking, while I wouldn’t exactly call it plentiful, was free.
Packet pickup was easy, but then we went midday Friday. You can collect stickers from the vendors to be eligible to enter some nice raffled prizes — alas, I did not win anything. It’s a smallish expo but there was a nice mix of vendors.
Unfortunately the space is not air conditioned, but since it wasn’t too crowded it wasn’t bad. The barefoot masseuse was one of the weirder vendors. I might’ve tried it, but I didn’t want to make my friends wait. Plus, nothing new before the race!
The barefoot masseuse was one of the weirder vendors. I might’ve tried it, but I didn’t want to make my friends wait. Plus, nothing new before the race!
Thursday night I went to the panel of former winners — and Joan Benoit Samuelson. She was quick to point out that she’s never actually run the race, although her friends were quick to point out that she’s won enough. Sadly, few people attended.
My Race Plan
Seriously, there was no plan. This race is always very crowded and tends to be hot. My plan was simple: do what felt right on race day but try not to go out too fast.
- Mile 1: 9:31. My watch was doing some funky things that first mile, but looking back at the last time I ran this race, the first mile seemed a normal time. Most of my friends say they feel this mile was accurate according to their watches, although a couple also felt there was something off about the first mile. If this is accurate, it’s actually the fastest mile I have ever run in a race — or ever (but I’m not sure if the buildings interfered with the Garmin). Interestingly (to me, anyway) there’s a slight hill for almost the entire first mile. My guess is it was nearer to a 10 mm. I have been doing 400m repeats, and that’s my target pace for them, but I definitely think this mile would have felt much, much harder if 9:31 was my actual pace.
- Mile 2: 10:36. Mile two is really mostly coming back down the hill. The race is so congested, though; I was just held back by runners a lot. I know this is normally the case for this race, and therefore never target it as a PR opportunity.
- Mile 3: 10:13. Mile three starts with a slight hill (none of the hills in this race are really that bad), but then it flattens out and starts to head downhill towards the finish.
- Last .1: 8:08. A downhill sprint to the finish line (although according to my Garmin is was .33, no doubt due to the weaving I did the entire race).
32:57 — Official Time
10:36 — Average Pace
92 out of 235 in my AG
1394 out of 3500+ runners
Despite this being the slowest 5k of my last three 5ks in the last six weeks, I am not at all disappointed. As you can see, it was a course PR for me by almost 3 minutes. I weaved too much and the course was long for me — I usually try not to weave a lot, but it was just so frustrating not being able to run my own race. Part of that is also my run/walk intervals, but I still feel that works for me.
There is a finish line video up on Youtube (find it here) — I’m at about 33:50 (guntime!). I had to watch it like five times before I saw myself. You can see how congested it is even at the finish.
The weather & dressing
Well, I finally ran a 5k it didn’t rain on, although I think we all wish it had. It was warm and humid, but the cloud cover helped and unlike the race two years ago, I didn’t have to sit down immediately afterwards.
Was the race well run?
Freihofers is well run, but it’s also a bit chaotic with the sheer number of people. There is a corral start, but I personally think they ought to start going with a wave start. Most of the streets you run through are narrow and I could never find my own running space and got trapped behind runners going too slow for me (again, part of that is my run/walk strategy) again and again.
Having an actual sink with soap and paper towels by the portapotties is a really nice touch though, I must say! We used them early and there was no line. Later on there was quite long lines.
Parking is supposed to be free — or at least a lot of people thought so — I chose to park at the visitor lot under the Egg, and as far as I’m concerned, it was worth the $5 to have access to a real bathroom before and after and come back to a nice, cool car, too.
Would I run this race again? If I’m here, I always run this race. It was also fun mentoring so many wonderful ladies and seeing their hard work pay off.