Take Steps for Kids

“Won’t somebody please think of the children?!”
-Helen Lovejoy

A couple months ago a WUSTL student approached me in the locker room (seeing that I was wearing running clothes) about the Take Steps for Kids 5K race put on by a student group. He seemed like he couldn’t quite tell if I was up to it. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was training for a 50K at the time. But I took the information and marked it on my calendar. I do enjoy a good 5K race.

Last Saturday was the day. I ran to campus to register, then ran back home to drop off my goodie bag, then ran back to the race, then ran around campus. I used to get away with a 1 mile warmup for a 5K, but in my old age I really run the fastest in miles 3-6, so now I try to do a 3 mile warmup.

The course was two loops around campus, including the awesome, fast downhill section of the sidewalk along Forsyth. On the day of the race there was also a tailwind here. On the flip side we had to run up all those stairs in front of Brookings hall.

Washington University in St. Louis


I wasn’t looking forward to it, but, meh, how hard could it be?

The race started fast, as most 5Ks do. I tried to hang out behind a pack of runners as we started into the headwind. One guy was pulling away as we reached the fast downhill section, so I gave chase. The first mile was 5:26.

I couldn’t quite close the gap before we reached the bottom of the hill, turned around, and ran up the stairs into the headwind. I was spent by the time I reached the top.

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Me in 2nd, chasing the yellow shirt up the stairs

The second mile was considerably slower, 5:50-something. By the time we reached the fast downhill section again we ran into the back of the pack who were still on their first lap, and I had to weave back and forth to dodge some of the people who couldn’t be bothered to step aside.

I pushed again on the downhill section, but I couldn’t make up any more ground. I came through the finish in 2nd place overall at 17:26. Technically, this is a new 5K PR for me, though it feels a bit dirty. The course did have a net loss in elevation (we didn’t have to run back up the stairs on the second lap). Even so, I wasn’t expecting to run that fast. I’ve done very little speed work since Fuego y Agua (and even less before that).

After the race I ran another 7 miles easy.

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One bit of a downer was this photo Melissa took that showcases my awful form. I’ve really been working hard to improve my form in the hope of becoming more efficient and less injury prone. I can do better on my easy runs, but I’ve really struggled with better form when running fast and racing. It requires so much concentration that I quickly relapse into this:

  • Leg extended almost straight out in front of me
  • Landing on my heel (this is why I have bad knees)
  • Landing with my foot in front of my center of mass
  • Arms bent at an extremely acute angle
  • Torso leaning forward
  • Head down (though I think this was just to block the sun)

I’m a mess.

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