Time: 7:20 a.m.
This was my third year running the Summerfest Rock ‘N Sole 5K. Coming into it, I wasn’t excited about the course changes, and I also wasn’t particularly sure what sort of performance to expect due to some neck issues I’m working through.
Despite those things, though, I really liked this race the past two years, so I really wanted to run it again.
Two years ago this race was my first sub-22 min finish in a race — 21:54. Last year it was my first sub-21 — 20:12, which was closer to 20 than I expected, and still stands as my PR.
This year some neck issues caused me to back off running and other training most of May. While I was hoping I could pull a sub-21 out of my hat like I did for the Sweet Home Milwaukee 5K, I realized that was probably unrealistic. I had backed off training for only about a week off before that 5K compared to missing most of an entire month and then trying to come back hard in the two-and-a-half weeks leading up to this one.
With that all in mind, I set my goal for the race at sub-22. Hopefully low sub-22 if possible, but if not, okay.
The weather wasn’t too bad. Sunny to start and in mid-/upper-50s. It felt a little warmer in the sun, but once the race started, it seemed to get a little cooler with some cloud cover and a breeze.
Stephanie and I had started near the front of the start line, so there really weren’t crowds to contend with as I tried to get off to a good start.
The first mile of the race seemed pretty boring. (Later, Stephanie mentioned she thought the neighborhood scenery of the race was better than the last year’s, but I sort of found it unremarkable. Not that running through the old course’s empty Summerfest Grounds was spectacular, but I thought it was cool.)
All I remember about the first mile was observing the paces of people around me and feeling like even though they didn’t seem that fast, the pace I was keeping was probably over my head for now. And then I passed the one mile marker: 6:23.
I knew it was unsustainable with where my cardio fitness is right now, so I tried my trick where I intentionally slow down to a slow pace and count to a certain number and then pick it back up to a faster pace. I felt like doing it so early in the race didn’t bode well for me, especially since I was doing it to prevent myself from having to do it again later when I was really struggling.
And then I did it again two more times during the second mile. Because I was struggling. People caught me and passed me every time I did it, too, which sucked.
But then, near the end of the second mile, I did the unthinkable: I WALKED.
I looked around me first to make sure no one was going to catch me and/or pass me. There was a kid far enough back that I wasn’t worried.
I walked for a fast 20-count, so probably like 12-ish seconds or so, and the kid gained some ground, but then I saw mile marker 3, and knew I needed to finish strong for sucking it up 2/3 of the race.
At the last turn I started “sprinting” to the finish line. I saw the finish clock at 21:34 and ticking upward. I didn’t have a realistic sense of how long it was going to take me to get there and whether I’d finish sub-22 or not, but I cranked it up in hopes I’d make it.
I wasn’t moving that fast, I felt, but it was as fast as I could go at that point. I even tried to make sure to run *through* the finish line and not simply to it. I was mostly just happy to be done with the race. By no means was it my best effort or most enjoyable performance to experience.
While I previously would say this race is a no-brainer for me to run the next year, whether I’ll run it again now remains to be determined.
* * * * *
One thing I did like about the race was they tried to have local bands play on the side of the road. There were only two on the 5K course. The first one was pretty cool, but the second one was just some old dudes covering CCR and other older music. They were on a turnaround stretch, so I got to hear them twice. Would’ve rather heard the first band twice.
* * * * *
The best part of the morning had nothing to do with the race, though, and everything to do with the post-race breakfast at the restaurant Stephanie picked out: Blue’s Egg on 76th street.
They had some pretty naughty-looking carb-loaded breakfasts I was tempted by, but ended up deciding on the shrimp, scallops, and calamari breakfast scramble. It was truly exceptional. Honestly just tremendous. I don’t know how many times while — and since — eating it that I called it either “exceptional” or “tremendous.” It was really that good. I can’t recommend it highly enough.