Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Brittany Zimmerman 5k

photo of Brittany Zimmerman 

This past Saturday Andie and I participated in the inaugural Brittany Zimmerman Memorial 5k run/walk down on the shore of Lake Mendota in Madison. Despite some first year teething on the part of the event organizers and some chilly, breezy weather, about 350 of us came out to support Madison Area Crimestoppers and the Zimmerman family. All in all a good time had by all.

The race is a new event in Madison held in memory of Brittany Zimmerman, a promising UW student who was the victim of an unsolved homicide back in the spring of 2008. Half of the funds raised during the inaugural event will go to the Zimmerman family to help solve Brittany's murder, with the remainder, and all funds from future events going to Madison Area Crimestoppers. Madison's been good to Andrea and I and this was a great opportunity to help give a little something that would help the community. Also, as Andie put it:"I'm not okay with such a terrible crime going unpunished in my town."

The race course was laid out to take runners from the UW Memorial Union, up observatory hill, down to the UW hospital then back to the Union along the lakeshore path. Due to ongoing construction on Observatory Drive, the course was modified this year as an out-and-back along the lakeshore path. When I got the email notification of the course change a couple days prior to the event I have to say I was pretty happy since, as any UW student will tell you, humping your ass up Observatory hill is to be avoided when possible, especially if you're running it.

We arrived about an hour before start time to pick up our packets and check in.  We were greeted by a long line of folks huddled together trying to stay warm in the cold morning temps. As with any new endeavor, the race organizers ran into a few hiccups including a poorly conceived of division of the alphabet (A-E in one line and every one else in another? Really?) and a shorter wait for day-of registrations than for preregistered. They managed to get it all sorted out and the race got underway only about 20 minutes late. As a guy who's 15 minutes late for everything I'm okay with that.

As the weather isn't really that cold yet (by Wisconsin standards) I decided that morning to run in my huaraches as opposed to doing something different and running in my old Asics GT-2110. I have to admit to a certain amount of amusement as folks watched me making last minute adjustments to the straps. As we waited for the starting signal, I listened to a couple fop folks behind me comment on my unusual footwear, with one guy saying"yeah, running like that hurts." Um, actually, it doesn't.

Despite having just finished grad school at UW I will admit to never having gone down to the lakeshore path before. It turned out to be a really nice run along side Lake Mendota, giving me an opportunity to watch the moored boats rocking in the wind chopped water, and to see parts of the campus I had never been to before. I resisted the urge out of the gates to try to stick with the pace of the pack leaders and just eased my cold muscles into what I thought was about an 8:30 pace. While I'm not really the competitive type when it comes to running, having long ago come to grips with the fact that I'm not very fast, I did derive a certain amount of satisfaction as I passed a pack of female Madison PD officers who were also running the race in the first mile, as well as a few other folks who I could tell were regular runners.

For about the first two miles I was able to really just kick back and enjoy the run, taking in the sunny morning (albeit still chilly) weather. About a quarter mile after the turnaround I started to feel the fatigue kick in as my pace slowly dropped (later confirmed when i uploaded my run from my Sportband). I dialed it back a bit to conserve as I really wanted to finish the event without stopping to walk. A few folks I passed a little before the turnaround passed me during this stretch, including an older woman with this weird twirly running form. I kept asking myself how she doesn't just hate herself after running when, with each stride, she twirled her legs around in front of her as if she had some kind of weird ball joint where her knees should be. I think that subconsciously I focussed so to much on other runners' form because I didn't want to think too much about how a woman two decades my senior was kicking my ass.

As we crossed into the last half mile, the cheering of the race volunteers on the course, coupled with the prodding of an older gentleman behind me yelling that "it's almost over, so don't save anything" helped me find the energy to jack up my pace and push as hard as I could all the way around to the finish. I'm not sure how I managed to keep from bonking during that last quarter mile but I pushed through and sprinted (as much as I could call it sprinting at that point) the final stretch from College Library to the finish.

After checking in with a volunteer so they could record my time (no fancy RFID chips here) I caught my breath and waited by the finish for Andrea. Just a few minutes behind me, she came soldiering around the last bend and down across the finish line. I couldn't have been prouder. You see, in her typical, lovable type-A fashion, Andrea had pushed through a 5k run the previous Weekend and had spent most of the rest of the week suffering from so much muscle pain that she couldn't so much walk as shamble like a zombie in search of fresh brains. I know that she was pretty disappointed in herself that she had to stop and walk a few times, but considering the circumstances, and the fact that our neighborhood has zero elevation changes as opposed to the race course which had a few, I think she did great.

A bit on race food. I never understood why they always have orange wedges along with water and Gatorade at races but now I know why. Damn if that wasn't the best fracking orange I've ever had in my life. Not really, but it certainly tasted like it.

We hung around for some door prizes (no luck for me) then headed off to gather the dogs to go to Dogtoberfest at the local brewery. All in all a good day.

A post race check of my time revealed a time of 30:51 and an average pace of 9:51. That was good for 61st out of 120 for the men and 103 overall.  Andie clocked in with a 34:37 and 11:09 pace which put her in the top 50% of the women and 143 overall. Go Andrea! Checking my pace online with my Nike+ gear showed that I managed a pretty consistent pace throughout the entire distance with a little drop the latter half and that the final race results were pretty accurate with regards to pace  I guess I need to get better at feeling out my speed.

Best wishes to the Zimmerman family. Thank you for allowing all of us to honor Brittany's memory in this way. We'll be back again next year I'm sure.

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