This past week marked the beginning of what I hope will be an about-face on my race times. It was my fastest recent 5k time and my best Summer Breeze 5k time ever, about 22 seconds faster than last year, and 45 seconds faster than last week's 5k time at China Grove.
The big change came about not because of any changes in my training, but because I went back on the Weight Watchers plan. Three years ago I lost 50 pounds with a combination of Weight Watchers and running and became a lifetime member of Weight Watchers, which would have allowed me to attend the WW classes for free indefinitely as long as I kept up with the program. Genius that I am, a few months later I decided that I was running enough that I didn't need the WW plan to maintain my weight, and little by little over the past two years I've slowly gained some weight. Not really enough to be referred to as thin as opposed to scrawny, but I had gradually picked up about 10 pounds since the fall of 2009, when I was at 143 pounds and running my best race times.
This time around I'm doing Weight Watchers Online so I'm not going to the meetings, but it's a tremendous program either way if you apply it to your life, and after just one week of a much improved diet and losing about 3 pounds I feel the best I've felt since I ran my peak race times.
Today I was happy to finish 2nd in my age group at 20:59 (chip time). The best part was that I felt relatively good during the race. Oh, for sure I felt like I was dying, which seems to be normal for a 5k race, but I didn't feel nearly as close to death as I did last week, so I guess that can be described as "relatively good." One of the nice things about the Run For Your Life races this year is that the results are listed on Active.com, and they can be sorted in several ways including "Age Graded Results." It was nice to discover that on an age-graded basis my 75.8% placed me at 17th out of 297 males in the race. That's not nearly as impressive as 78-year-old Charlie Rose finishing in 22:34 (88.9%) or 62-year-old powerhouse Butch Holt's 19:58 (81.7%), but it's still a definite improvement for me.
There are a lot of good things about the Summer Breeze 5k, and Lord knows I don't like to complain, but there are a few things about this race that irk me, so let me share some of them with you, in no particular order...
- Cost and T-shirts: Race day registration is available, which is great, but $35 is about 5 bucks over my annoyance meter. Add to that the fact that they were out of T-shirts so I paid $70 for Linda and I to run a 5k race and didn't get so much as a T-shirt. If a race runs out of T-shirts and offers a $5-10 discount, then I feel that I'm getting my money's worth, but that wasn't offered as an option.
- Water Stops: I was amazed that the only water stop on the course was manned by a total of only two people. That seems pretty unbelievable for a race with more than 600 runners.
- Porta-Potties: Or lack thereof. The two Freedom Park bathrooms had huge lines, just as in previous years, before the race. I'm pretty sure that one well-known Charlotte runner was STANding in the bathroom line when the race started and ended up missing the beginning of the race. C'mon RYFL, how 'bout springing for some porta potties in these races.
- Awards: Actually, as bad of an award the plastic cup and orange sunglasses were for this year, this was actually an improvement over last year's age group awards, which consisted of a hand towel if I remember correctly. Still RFYL manages to provide some of the worst age group awards I've seen, all the while touting, "Deluxe Awards at Every Race." I could provide some examples of races with better awards, but it would probably be easier to provide examples of races with more pathetic awards, since there are so few of them. In a race with 600 runners, if each runners pays $25 to register (remember I paid $35), then the income would be $15,000. I know there are expenses, but I still think a trip to the trophy shop would be in order.
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9 - 1-10 Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
3 - 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
7 - 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
4 - 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
4 - 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average) (-1 for no race-day reg shirts)
6 - 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No)
0 - 0/5 Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No)
6 - 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
7 - 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
7 - 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
5 - 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
5 - 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 - 0-10 Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups)
0 - 0/5 Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
3 - 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
TOTAL - 76
1st Overall Male: Paul Mainwaring (16:06)
1st Overall Female: Michelle Hazelton (18:48)
Total Finishers: 615
Time: 20:59 (chip time)
Age Group: 2 of 15
Overall: 87 of 615