I ran a race!!!! The time has finally arrived. I was given the green light to put some intensity on this foot and race hard. Yes! I was excited. But was I ready?
I arrived at the race site one hour before the start time. I saw my friend Bob immediately and we headed in for our numbers. From there, we headed out for a nice warm up and pre-race chatter. He noticed that I was nervous...and commented that he hadn't seen me like that. We haven't raced together before since we just got to know each other at the end of the '09 season. For those who have experienced many races with me, I know you're laughing right now. I am the epitomy of the nervous athlete before race starts. I actually thought I was pretty mellow and calm yesterday!
I was surprised to bump into my brother (not racing), his wife Leigh (racing), her sister and neice, Leigh's parents, my neice and nephews and then my parents arrived!! I knew a few friends were running with me but I had no idea there would be all that great family support! It was really fun. My parents are amazing. They have been popping up at races and meets all my life. Of course throughout my childhood and HS, but in college they would even surprise me by appearing in the stands at pools in upstate New York (for example) armed with bags of homemade goodies to feed the entire men and women's swim teams, or driving to Vermont just to watch a mid-week dual meet. They rock. They hinted this past week by saying, "so what time is that 5K? Where is it?" I didn't answer their questions and instead said, "Mom...it's a 20 minute race. I'll fly by for about 12 seconds. It's ok!" But no, they came of course. It made it really fun too. I'll get on to the race details in a minute but I'm afraid I quite possibly provided the worst ever 'end of race face' for the camera.
We lined up and prepared to suffer. Last year, I actually won this race. It was a total surprise to me. I had never won a road race. I have actually only raced in a 5K about three or four times now. It's not my favorite distance. (it's really really painful!!!!) So I said to my friend, "I wonder who my competition is this year." I scanned the crowd and saw this tiny woman in front of me. She had 'that look.' I hit Bob and said, "oooh,she looks like she could be good." He looked at her and very confidently told me, "yes, she'll beat you." Thanks Friend!Ha! It was true though. He was right. This lady won the big 10 mile race last week in 60 minutes! She represented Maine in the Olympic Trials for the marathon too. She is a top elite runner. Ok. So my goal became to hold off anyone else.
That's about all the pre-race prep I had for this! Next thing I knew, "GO!"
And off we went. Bob and Mike were with me. We flew out of the gates and headed down a hill. Bob was hysterical. Within about 75 seconds I was already gasping for air but impressively, he had enough to rally off our pace every 15-30 seconds or so. It seemed that way but I was unable to look down at my watch to actually know. I was appreciative of his help... but I was utterly mystified at how he could Talk!! Seriously? I couldn't even breath! I know, we were only .7 into the race but I was already emptying the tank. We hit mile one 5:51!!! (he said 5:56 but my garmin says 5:51 so I'm going with that :o) ) I did muster up enough oxygen to mumble, "PR!" How funny. We did have a lot of down hill assistance to get that sub 6 mile but still...that's crazy. I had decided to run as hard as I could the entire way..no pacing involved...and this was proof.
Right around that time, Bob hollered out, "Mike, is that you back there?" and he answered, "yes! it's me but barely!" Again, How can they TALK?? My husband is like that. He chats away. I choose to breath. Impressive boys.
Shortly after we passed our first mile mark, Bob edged away from me. I couldn't get back to him. He was wearing a yellow baseball hat so I just focused on that hat and tried to keep it close. Mile 2 was long. At least twice as long as mile 1. It was mostly flat and it was Hot! I desperately wanted to rip my gloves and headband off but again, I had no extra energy to expend on such unnecessary movements. It was all about going forward and going forward as fast as possible. I was gasping for air loudly. I felt like all others around me were in complete control and quiet. I was making quite a racket. But I must say, all the others around me were Men! Ha!!! That's right.....women were not allowed to get me. That's all I cared about. Holding my pace and keeping the women at bay.
Finally, mile 2 was done.
Mile 3 was cruel. It started with a Big big climb. I slowed to an 8:00 pace during the one moment I looked at my garmin. I was hurting so much. I was suffering harder than I've suffered in a long long time. I crested that hill and began the final stretch to the finish line. I am quite sure they were moving that line back further and further as I went down that road. It took hours to get there. I had visions of Ironman bliss. Did Ironman hurt this much?
Was I crazy? It was a 3.1 mile run! But I ran my heart out! I pushed my body so intensely! I was determined to run fast and start the season off in true form.
I ran past my family cheering and smiling! I don't even think I managed any form of smile. Poor little Griffin held his hand out for a slap and I couldn't do it. I was working myself into a pile of mush.
And then...just in time...DONE.
I staggered around the little chute and tried to catch my breath. I think a few guys moved in past me and handed the bottom part of their # to the official before I did. That's ok. I lost a few spots but no women slipped by. 2nd place. Not bad. I think the next woman was 1:40+ behind me.
20:19, 6:31 pace (my splits are kind of funny...5:51 (with downhill), 6:35 (flat), 7:06 (big climb) 2nd woman -19th or maybe 16th overall. I think there were ~300 runners.
2010 season is officially here.