When I got home tonight, I told Bill, I had to eat, and then I needed to write about the race tonight. He looked at me and said, you’re about to burst, aren’t you?  YEP, I AM! Simply put, this was my best race of the year, and I felt great while running  it.  I think my secret is to not think about the race for weeks on end, and to not stress!  I also think that running a race that Lis also runs (my running partner from last year and now friend, from last year’s TNT training) puts me in a great mood to start off, so the negative thoughts don’t have a chance to sneak in.  Oh, and she got a PR too!!!  She broke 50 minutes, by a lot.  Her time on the clock was 49:30 but really, I think her real time was more like 49:20. It’s hard to know the exact time when there are no chips.

I have to admit, I was worried I was not properly hydrated, as I hadn’t drunk as much water at work as I usually do. Plus, we had food brought in at lunch time for  a meeting, so I had potato chips, and other food I don’t normally eat for lunch. I’ve also had about a gazillion chocolate chip cookies lately thanks to a coworker who has been on a baking craze. (None of us are complaining about her cake-per-week allotment.)  Ok, I digress, on to the race report.

I got there with only about 20 minutes to the start time. So much traffic – it took me about an hour to drive 12 miles.  Luckily, Lis was there two hours early. She’s incredibly prompt, believe me.  She was able to pick up my number. It was drizzling before the race started, and then definitely raining during the entire race. We had just enough time to use the porta potties (once for me, three times for her by this point, hey, we both have nervous bladders. If I’d have been there for 2 hours, I’d have peed about a million times.)

The start line was a bit chaoitc.  I didn’t really hear a lot of announcements, and then bang, we all started. You could hear all the stop watches going off.  I looked down to start mine at what I thought was the official start line, and realized we had been standing still so long that it had reset itself to sleep mode. So I tried to start and lock it again. I realized after about 2 minutes and 35 seconds later, it had stopped on its own. So I restarted it (I’ll explain how I know how much time had elapsed.  I’m getting to it.)  Did I mention the start line was on grass, on a field that we suspected was recently cut?  You can imagine how scary that is, no one wants to get injured on that!  You could noticeably see people slowing down on the grass, both at the beginning and at the end of the race.

So, when the race started, I thought, ok, way too many people, rainy conditions, no way can I do a PR with this.  Just enjoy the race instead. But people really started to get into their own grooves pretty quickly, after about the first .3 miles or so.  I hit the first mile mark at 8:35, and looked down to see my watch was at about 6:00, so I thought, ok, I’ll just add 2:35 to everything.  Plus, at the end, I know whatever the clock says, I’m actually about 3-5 seconds under it, since I started in the middle of the pack at the start line. Honestly, it scared me a bit to see 8:35 showing. That’s more around my 5Kish pace. So I thought I should slow down, but I also thought to myself, you know what? I feel ok right now! It doesn’t seem like I am running that much faster than I normally do for this kind of mileage.

I made sure to stop at the water stops for miles 1, 2 and 3.  I carried some Sports Beans with me – I find that if I keep feeding myself electrolytes and caffeine while I go, my body seems to react well with it.  I made sure to walk through 2 of the water stops when I took Endurolytes. (Didn’t want to choke on them, that wouldn’t be good for anyone.)  While it was not overly hot out tonight, the rain made things humid, so I like the Endurolytes for nights like tonight.

I do remember a few hills on this route from last year – in particular one where Lis says she distinctly remembers the words, “holy,” “mother,” “god” and “fing….” all used in the same sentency by me as soon as I saw it.  Tonight, I think that hill was included again but I said to myself YOU ARE NOT GOING TO LET THIS HILL BEAT YOU AGAIN, even though I did swear inwardly at it! Honestly, compared to the Boilermaker, it didn’t seem so bad. And I made sure to say to myself on every downhill, “Free Speed” over and over.  I  tried to relax my arms and just let gravity take me downhill at a faster speed, and then try to carry that speed into the flats.

On a night like tonight, there were very few spectators, of course, until we got to the finish line, which was around a track.  I made sure to try to say thank you to some of the volunteers, who unlike us who were moving to keep warm, were standing still in the rain.   I smiled widely at a few and they seemed happy to return equally big smiles, especially the guy at the finish line, even as I was huffing and puffing in front of him.

I have to admit, I think the look on my face when I got to the 4-mile marker was one  of “holy shit, I can’t believe that’s the number on the clock with this course.”  Offiicially, at that point, it said 35:55, which meant I was just under a 9 minute mile pace.  For me, for that distance, that’s good. Really good. I knew at that point, I had it in me to have a finish line time of somewhere in the 45 minute range.  I also know I am a “sit and  kicker” because I am generally able to make my last mile or segment of a race be my fastest.  It was at this point that I decided to start counting people I passed, which has been a motivational trick for me in the past.  I believe I passed 10, maybe more, as it was  getting confusing during the last half mile or so.  I did see a lot of people who looked like they were starting to flag, and I felt like yelling out “we’re only a half mile from the end, don’t slow down now!” but another part of me is still like a competitive law student sometimes, and didn’t want everyone else to speed up too! (Blush)

When I hit the track, I felt very comfortable.  It was very familiar to me, and I definitely felt strong.  When I saw the time clock and saw 43 as the first two numbers, I thought, holy shit, I can’t believe this and I started to sprint.  It did say 44:14 when I crossed the line but I think my real time was 44: 10 due to my earlier deductions.

My Garmin didn’t catch all of the entire mileage but these are the splits it gave me for 4.66 miles. I do know that last mile was in about 8:18, which totally blew my mind when I figured it out on the car ride home.

  • Mile 1:  8:28
  • Mile 2: 9:12
  • Mile 3: 9:09
  • Mile 4: 9:22
  • Mile 5: 8:17

I just looked on Cool Running  and can’t believe the results are on there already:

  • Place overall: 675/961
  • Division (female 30-39) 43/122
  • Females: 221/420

It looks like there were a ton of guys running!  I just saw the winner did it in 24:21. My God.  But you know what,  I’m most proud of my place in my division – to me that’s always the most important ranking.

The sayings that helped me the most tonight:

  • So this is what it’s like to feel strong while running!
  • Run strong, run strong.
  • Run Fearless (that made me smile) (thanks to Willie in OK)
  • Run like you mean it (thanks to Irish Cream)
  • Free speed!

The music that helped me tonight:

  • Forever by Chris Brown
  • Fire Burning by Sean Kingston
  • Vapour Trails by Nick Warren, off the Starecase album (this has always been my “strong song” so it was fitting that it started playing at about mile 4.5)

By the way, Marathon  Sports, who sponsors this race, always does an amazing job.  So well staffed, and supported, especially at the end.  

Anyway, this is probably my longest race report ever, so thanks for listening.  I think I’ll just float on this feeling for a few days now. I am really hoping my goal of doing a 10K in 54-55 can be realized this year after all. On nights like tonight, it makes me think I can do it after all. 

By the way, this was the realization of one of my goals for this year – to run a solid 9 minute mile pace (or better!) and to do a 5 mile race in the 45 minute range. Looks like I even beat it! I bested my time in this race by over 6 minutes!!!!! 🙂