Sunday, December 5, 2010

The 5 Mile 5K

*Disclaimer: Loaded up the camera w/batteries and a new memory card, then promptly forgot it on the counter at home. Therefore sadly I have no pictures to accompany this post.

Saturday I took part in the 2010 Las Vegas Great Santa Run, a 5K race that features thousands of runners dressed as Santa Claus in a combined effort to raise money for a local charity and beat the Guiness Book Record for "most Santa Clauses in one place." This is the second time I've run this race -- the first time was 3 years ago, and it was also the first time I'd ever run in a real race. The last time I was in the Santa Run it took place on Fremont Street in "Old Vegas," which was a perfect location. No major hills, a nice wide street to run on, a good gathering place at the beginning/end for those not running and for the live music and activities that accompany the event. It was alot of fun and a great experience for my first 5K.

The 2010 event was a little different. It was held at a big shopping/entertainment complex on the south end of Vegas Boulevard (i.e. The Strip), for reasons that are a bit unclear to me. When I heard where they were having the race this year my first thought was that there is no way this complex is 3+ miles around, and I wondered how exactly they would set up a course through a shopping center. I was right about the distance - shortaly after the race started it became apparent that the route would basically be 3 laps around the circumference of the shopping center. Or so I thought. I made a goal several months ago to run this race with Jr. in the jogger, and after the first lap I thought it was going to be a pretty easy race - there were a few mild inclines but no hills, and once we got past the initial bottleneck at the start (I'm not exaggerating at all when I say there are about 8,000 runners in this thing) the course seemed pretty wide open. I got into a good pace right away, and set an internal goal to finish in under 30 minutes. Totally doable.

The second lap, I noticed that there seemed to be alot of people milling about in Santa costumes who weren't actually in the race - they were jogging/walking through the parking lots and up and down the sidewalks of the shopping center, so they had to be volunteers or something, right? But...they had numbers on their chests/backs. I couldn't figure out what they were doing. Then I realized Organizational Mistake #1 - there was a "1-mile Fun Run/Walk," and those people were on a similar but slightly different course. Instead of having some space between the two races, the 1-Mile part began immediately after the 5K, with no demarcation in the huge column of people of who was in which race. Which was fine except for Organizational Mistake #2 - the only way to know which course was which when the two overlapped as to follow people standing at various corners with small colored arrows pointing out the way - red arrows were for the 5K, green arrows were the 1 mile. I think, I never was exactly sure what color I was supposed to follow. There was no other identification of the route. But after the second lap I still felt pretty good, so I just went with the crowd.

As soon as the third lap started, I realized that there was a problem. Instead of following the circumference as before, suddenly all of the 5K runners kept going straight along the back road instead of turning into the shopping center. Straight...towards a construction site. I'm not sure if the folks in the lead took a wrong turn, or got mixed up by the arrows, or just weren't paying attention, but I could see everyone kind of looking around with confused looks on their faces. The arrow-holders were nowhere to be seen. So we all just kept running. As you can imagine, if you've got a couple thousand people running, it's going to take alot for the tide to turn; at that point we were pretty much like lemmings. Eventually someone must have realized that we were waaaaay of course because I started seeing people cutting across a random lot, headed back toward the shopping center. So...that's what everyone did. Cut across a dirt lot. But at that point we were far enough away that we couldn't actually see the finish line, and weren't sure how to get there because all of the 1-milers were done and had started to wander around the shopping center, eating and shopping and socializing. We were running towards a big mass of people all dressed like Santa, half of them in the street/course, with no one exactly sure where we were supposed to end up.

Which brings us to Organizational Mistake #3: There were TWO FINISH LINES. One for the 1-milers, one for the 5K. And neither finish line was where we started, on the outskirts of the shopping center. Both were in the middle of the complex where there's a little park/bandstand thing, about a block apart from each other. The 1-milers were all hanging out in the park between the 2 finish lines, spilling into the street, and the remaining 5K runners didn't know which finish line we were headed towards because I guess the arrow people had given up or forgotten about the longer race and called it a day. I don't know. Thankfully Jr. pretty much slept the entire time, but my shoulders and neck were starting to get sore from pushing the jogger, and although I was still running just fine, I was more than ready to be done. Finally, someone made an executive decision and picked one of the balloon arches marking the finish lines, and we all made our way through it. But it was the wrong one. Which was disappointing because TH and J had been waiting the whole time at the correct side to watch me come across the finish line and they totally missed me finishing. It was a bit ridiculous to say the least.'s the cool part, at least for me. Although I knew the race was taking a bit longer than I had trained for (I must have played my "Power Song"* 4 times at the end because I'd run out of music on my "5K Playlist"), for some reason I never checked my time or distance until the whole thing was over. You guys, I ran 4.97 miles! I have never run more than 4 miles before. And I didn't stop to walk one single time. 52 minutes of running, a little over 10 minutes/mile, which is pretty good for me. With Jr. in the jogger, which I've also never done for more than about 2 miles before. Despite my general frustration with the idiotic way the race was set up, I have to say I was fairly proud of myself. I never signed on for the "500 in 2010" thing because 2010 began with me breastfeeding a 3 month old infant and I knew it was kind of unrealistic. I didn't even start running again until about 5 months ago, after a whopping 18 months of almost no real exercise. But I checked my Nike+ thing this morning and in those few months I've logged 207 miles. I totally think that by the time a year is up I will have surpassed 500 miles. I am officially In Much Better Shape Than I Was Five Years Ago. At 33. After breastfeeding 2 children. (It would be a lie, however to say that my boobs are in better shape than they were 5 years ago after BFing 2 children. Another post for another day.)

I don't surprise myself often, but this time I really didn't know I had it in me. And who knows, next year...half marathon, maybe?

*Run This Town - Jay-Z feat. Rhianna. Awesome running song, especially at the end of a race.


Joanna said...

LOL, 8,000 lost Santas running around sounds great to me. So funny. I would have been frustrated if I was running the race, but hearing about it, I really get the giggles out of it. So funny.

As for running 4.97 miles pushing a kid? AWESOME! You don't even know what you can do until a poorly organized Santa run shows you.

Julie said...

AWESOME Desi!! I am so impressed with your running AND pushing Jr. AND the fact that Jr. stayed seated in a stroller for 52 minutes. I would have no chance on any of the above--lol.

On the flip side, that sounded so totally freakin confusing.

Beth said...

OMG Desi--I am LMAO. "We were like lemmings." Baw-hawwwww! And I am also sooo impressed! You rock! Congrats. Looks like a little confusion did you some good.