Sunday morning started early….not as early as Saturday though. Saturday I was up super early – 4:30am for DTP. I ran a short little 3 mile shake out run and then headed home to rest.
Sunday I woke up around 5:30 for the race. Since the race is close and small I knew I didn’t have to get there too early. I bounced around at home and listened to some music and got my buddy to get moving. We left the house around 6 to head over to the race site. There were hardly any people there when we got there. My buddy stayed in the car while I headed to the track to say hi to one of my friends. After a brief chat I headed off to warm up.
Based on discussions with my coaches I had planned to warm up for about 2 miles and I knew I needed to complete my warm up by about 7am. I passed by the car before I actually started running and my buddy was sleeping. It must be tough to get up early to watch me race.
I decided to warm up on part of the race course. I wanted to remind myself what those roads were like and I thought I could get a nice little loop out of it. So I headed out and kept my pace extremely slow. When I got to a big hill I decided to save energy and just walk. I then came around to what would be the end of the race and decided to proceed on that road. A couple of minutes later I realized that I had no idea where the road went; I hoped it connected back to the main road. After freaking out for a few seconds I saw an intersection and decided I would not go past that. I got down there and found out it was the main road but I wasn’t sure how far away I was from the start. It all worked out rather perfectly and I ended up running just over 2 miles to the porta potties. After a stop I went back to the car to wake my buddy up.
While I was there I saw one of my coaches. I told her that my legs were still bothering me and she said to keep warming up. So I jogged a little and walked a lot. I did some strides about 15 minutes before the race and headed to the start line about 5 minutes before.
There were paces marked at the starting line so I lined up in the appropriate place and hoped for a good start. I was super nervous. My stomach seemed very unhappy and for some reason I was just scared. I really wanted to do well.
Luckily as soon as I heard “the G word” my nerves calmed down. We shuffled up to the starting mat and started the race! I knew my buddy was going to be on the right side but unfortunately I was in a bad place behind some people not moving too fast (wearing jackets and backpacks (not hydration packs)) so I had to bounce around and he almost missed me.
The beginning of the course was a pretty steady uphill. At first I thought the start was slow but my watch confirmed that I’m crazy. I had started fast so I slowed down to get to the pace I wanted. Things shook out quickly and I had plenty of space to run. I first mile seemed to go on forever but I tried to enjoy the nice weather and the fact that I was racing. The first downhill was awesome and I put my arms out and practiced my flying technique.
The first few miles went really well. I held a steady pace right where I wanted to be. In fact things just felt great until I got to the first water station. I was trying to get water and called to the volunteers who replied saying they had water. I picked out a girl and called to her and she handed me a cup. I took a sip and it was sports drink …which I spit out and it went up through my nose and back out again and all over my face. It was very unexpected so I threw the cup with the rest of it. I didn’t take in anything except a small sip of sticky stuff. My face was sticky and I was annoyed at myself for not communicating better to confirm I was getting water. (I did all this while running because I didn’t want to stop to walk.)
I tried to just move on from the frustration but things didn’t go so well in miles 4 and 5. I was starting to get hot. My legs and foot were bothering me and I was getting a cramp in my side. I tried to breathe through it but ended up slowly down a lot. The hills killed me. Those two miles were a really big struggle and I had lost so much time. I was looking at my watch and I knew my PR was gone. My pace was too high. I even told my buddy around mile 4.5 that it had become a training run and that the PR was gone. I don’t think he cared either way….I didn’t hear him say anything.
I was frustrated but I knew my pace was close to my PR pace and for the first time ever I decided to do something different. I DID NOT QUIT. I did not quit on myself. I told myself that I could recover if I could run the last mile fast. I refused to let the PR go. I figured that if I saved some energy on the last hill and then ran as fast as I could I would be close to the PR. I knew it was going to be a fight and for once I was willing to fight. I thought back to a conversation I had recently with one of my coaches about letting the last mile hurt. And I did let it hurt. I picked up the pace. The course was flat and headed towards a downhill and I really started moving.
There were a bunch of short sections as we went through the parking lot to finish on the track. When I got to the track I heard my name called and gave the crowd a quick wave (haha…like anyone was looking!) I ran with the best form that I could because I knew my coach would yell about my arms if she saw me and I made my way around the track and started the biggest kick that I could with about 100 meters left.
As I was coming in I saw the clock and knew I would be within seconds of my PR but wasn’t sure which way it would go so I picked it up some more and ran through the finish line.
And then I stopped my watch. I dropped to the ground because I was completely done. I looked up to notice that my coach was talking to someone and had completely missed my finish….whomp whomp!
A super nice runner came over and gave me Gatorade. I wish I had been able to properly thank her. I needed that so badly and it was much better when I was expecting it.
At first I was super bummed about my time. I wanted to do about 3 minutes better but then I checked my watch and confirmed that I had set a new PR by about 30 seconds (official race chip time was a 34 second PR)! My coach reminded me that a PR is a PR! And then I realized that I almost left that PR back around mile 5 …..and had I not decided to pull it together and finish strong I would not have PR’d. I’ve never before come back like that. That alone is a victory.
After a few minutes I remembered that there was a little boy behind me that needed help. I saw him around the midpoint of the course and he told me it was his first 10k. I had talked to him throughout because he was struggling and then speeding up and then struggling again. I wanted to help him finish. I looked up and saw him on the other side of the track so I ran down the straight away to cheer for him and run with him to the finish. I ran on the field and kept cheering for him. Everyone that was around ran over to high 5 him. I hope in the end he had a good experience.
I told my coach I didn’t think I could run around 4 miles to get my 12 miles in for the day. She said to try to do 1 or 2 so I headed back out and was running the course in reverse and cheering for people when I saw someone I know. I ran to the track with her. After that I just didn’t have it in me to get the other miles finished. My big goal race is in November and I felt like resting was more important and running those miles were going to turn into junk.
So I grabbed a cookie (shhh! don’t tell anyone) and a banana, said goodbye to my friends, and headed home to start thinking about my next race!