Valentines Day TC 5K

This year instead of Loony, I signed up for the TC Summit Challenge, which is a year-round race series.  First race was today, the Valentines Day TC 5KI hate 5Ks. 

Registration: Registration is online and simple.  It's one registration for the series.  About a week before hand, I had an email with my bib number for this race.  (I assume it will change in each race.)  There's also an online bib number lookup.

Pre-Race Communication: We had a couple emails and web page updates from the race organizers.  Race day packet pick up was shortened by 1/2 hour to save the volunteers, pre race packet pick up was encouraged, and one email confirming the race would take place as planned despite the temperatures. I appreciated the extra communication and found the messages on point. 

Packet Pick Up: This is a 2,200 person race.  There is no expo.  I did race day packet pick up.  I had a surprise when I knew the volunteer who handed me my big.  I was very happy to see a friendly face.

Weather and Wardrobe: It was freezing ass cold today.  Air temps were -5* for the race, winds around 3mph.
Base layers: Polypro long johns, polypro socks, smart wool shirt
Top: Ativa cold weather shirt, purple hoodie with zipper
Bottoms: Brooks cold weather sweat pants
Other: Two pairs gloves, gaiter (which I took off for the race), ear band (which I took off for the race), smart wool hat.
Shoes: Altra Lone Peaks.  This is a road race, but there was enough ice and snow to justify trail shoes.

Start line: The start didn't have official corrals, but did have pace signs so people could line up in order.  The pace signs stopped at 10+ minute mile.  They should've had signs for 10:00, 11:00, 12:00 and even 13:00 miles, especially given that the average finishing time was 35:00.  It would've helped the back end of the race quite a bit.

Race/course: This is run on the road (not the path) around Lake Harriet. The road is generally crazy narrow, one lane and sometimes parking.   Things were badly crowded for the first two miles.  I was thinking that being able to see the finish line for the entire race would drive me nuts, but it really turned out not to matter.  I was spending so much concentration on dodging runners, ice and pot holes that I didn't really look for the finish until I knew it was fairly close.  And yes, there are hills on this course.  They are short but steep.

Finish: I got a medal quite quickly.  The line for food and water was crazy long and not moving.  I chose to forgo my post race banana (though I really lamented the bottle of water I missed) because I needed to get to another event to support a friend.  Seriously, this line was not moving. I'd parked about a mile away in the neighborhood, so I ran/walked/cooled down on the way back to my car.

Race Recommended For: Most importantly, people who like the 5K distance. This is a fun supportive race for first timers.  It's got good SWAG and a fun atmosphere.  For the crazy fast people, it's also a good race because it is chip timed and well supported.  As a middle of the pack runner, it was frustrating because it was so crowded.  I wouldn't have done this race if it hadn't been part of the series.

Goals and outcomes: Before the race, I'd been thinking about goal times and strategies.  My most recent 5K was the TC 5K in October.  My pace was 11:19 and that race has a wicked hill in the beginning.  Thinking about this race I first thought "11:00/mile would be a good goal".  Then I thought about the cold and how crowded the race would be, and other factors that could influence things, and I had no idea how to plan.
Ultimately, I stuck with my usual race strategy which is to go hard and go by feel.  I just let myself find a rythym that felt good but hard and went with it.  An added strategy was to push the pace on the hills, something I almost never do.  I wound up 33:46 or a 10:52/mile. I was shocked and pleased.
I had to smile when I looked at my heart rate data.  I've never hit 181 before.  No wonder I hurt so bad.

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