Sunday, April 10, 2016

GO! St. Louis 5K and 7K (NOT the Go Short, Go Long Challenge)

In my last post, I told you about my recent back injury and how I took a couple weeks off of running after my 1st attempt to return to running failed.  Although I continued to walk at least a mile every day to keep my streak going through the Run The Year challenge, my weekly mileage overall decreased.  So as GO! Weekend approached, I constantly questioned myself about whether or not I would be ready to run the half marathon as part of the GO Short, Go Long Challenge.  Luckily this year, GO! offered a 7k on Sunday which started at the same time as the marathon, half marathon, and relay races.  We all crossed the Eads Bridge into Illinois together and then the MLK Bridge back into Missouri before the 7k ended at Laclede's Landing.  I could still complete two races in one weekend as planned and earn two medals and two shirts, I just wouldn't qualify for the challenge and the extra medal.  Then earlier this week, I called GO! to make the downgrade to the 7K.

The 5k was actually my first attempt at jogging again and although it was slow, I felt good.  NO back pain at all, but my right stride still felt a little shorter than my left.  My mom and step-dad also completed the 5k yesterday morning.  

I highly recommend this 5k because it allows you to see great sections of Forest Park.  Access to porta-potties was easy, there are medals at the finish, and the post-race food included Chick-Fil-A, yum!  Metroing to the 5k would be the best option because parking for the race and then trying to exit after the 5k as runners for the other races are trying to park, gets chaotic.  Luckily we parked closer to the golf course and further from the start/finish, so we were able to completely avoid the traffic jam.  

Today was the 7k.  I got downtown just before 6 a.m. and parked at Union Station like I do for any downtown race except Rock 'n' Roll, since the last few miles of their race runs in front of the exits to the parking lot.  I tried to meet up with my co-worker who was running the half, but porta-potty lines and overflowing corrals made it impossible.  

The start of the race was as exciting as if I were running the half marathon.  It was crowded for the first few miles but as we crossed the Eads Bridge into Illinois, it started to thin out.  We ran through East St. Louis and past the first water stop.  Luckily I still brought my own Gatorade because there was literally a line of runners waiting for water to be poured into their cups.  I am not sure if this was due to a lack of water or volunteers.  We made a short loop through a vacant commercial district, and then started the slow uphill climb to the MLK Bridge where I snapped a photo of one of my favorite skylines.

As we were on top of the bridge, I kept hearing runners commenting on how far off their gps watches were from mile marker 4.  I am guessing that they moved the mile marker since it was so windy on the middle of the bridge.  As we ran back into Missouri and downhill, we made a very sharp turn towards another downhill that led us into Laclede's Landing.  As we ran down the hill, the turnoff for the 7k finish became clear.  The full marathon, half marathon, and relay runners turned left and the 7k turned right.  We ran a short distance on a cobblestone street before crossing the timing mat.  A block or so from the 7k finish line were the post-race refreshments and an optional buffet and a dj playing in the background.  

Although my finish times were turtle slow both days, my back didn't hurt at all and today I felt like my strides were back to normal.  Whew!  I am so glad that I took the time off to let my back properly heal, even though that rest meant not being prepared for the half today.  I just keep telling myself that there will always be another half.  

Congratulations to all the runners this weekend!

Remember to write a race review on Bib Rave.  

Look for your race results (a week or two post-race) and create an account on Athlinks.