Started off this Thanksgiving with a 6.2mile race. I am signed up for the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon the end of February and my training called for 6 miles this week, so I decided to do this race since the timing miles wise was perfect. I realized if I could finish this race in 1:15 or less....I could possibly be moved up out of the last starting group for the Princess which started my stress about this race. Not that I hate the last group, but the Princess race has a lot of walkers and while I am no speedy runner, it would be nice to have fewer people to maneuver around at the race in February. So while I tried to focus on just finishing the distance and that the race was for MUST Ministries which feeds the homeless, I started to stress about my time.
I was nervous last night, my stomach was in knots. You would think this was my first race...it wasn't. Truth be told, I am slow and have accepted that. When I was perusing the results of this particular 10k from years past, seems like my recent run times would put me at the back - actually last in my age group. Its not about where you finish I know, but seriously when the thought of "I will probably be last" hit, its a bummer. This is why I stopped running 10 years ago, I was slow and compared myself to others.....which I HAVE gotten better about this go round, but still.......
So with my IPOD loaded with some great tunes I set out this morning in the dark fog to the race. No one was on the roads and it was actually a creepy drive that 10 miles, but I made it easily. Parked the car, and went to get my race number. It was chilly and I had plenty of time. For some reason was I all emotional and felt like crying. Maybe it was the fear of making my time....or heck even finishing or memories of all the mornings in the hottest summer in Atlanta I got up early to start running again. Maybe I was wishing my husband and daughter had come with me to cheer me on...he did offer to come at the end, I told him to sleep in. I went back to sit in the car, eat a banana and put on my race shirt and number - and have a small cry - don't know what that was about! I had a time chip for my shoe, but forgot my reading glasses and had no idea how to put it on....it was my first race with one like this.
Got out of the car to walk around a little, found a nice lady to help me with the time chip and set off for the dreaded port o potties. I drank a 16oz bottle of propel water on my way over and well, I needed to go. I prayed I picked one without the remains of some other runner who had the nervous stomach deposit. Happily, it was clean, had sanitizer and was on my way again. I walked around warming up my legs looking at all the "runners"....people who looked like runners. Skinny people with muscle tone, but not so much they are bulked up. Short dudes with tiny shorts, young people who looked fit. WHERE WERE MY PEEPS I wondered? I realized I had no lip coverage so back to the car I went, vaselined up and was good to go. I started to look for my friend Amy who was also running. Guess what, hit the potties again....guess I drank too much propel water, but they were still relatively clean! Yay for the little things in life!
Walked out, and immediately saw Amy at the start. It was great to see a familiar face, especially the one who encouraged me to do this race. She is also training for the princess, so we try to keep each other motivated. While chatting with her, I heard a woman say "What I really can't stand, are the power walkers". Look lady, not all of us have a thin frame like you or are fast - just go up to the front - which is where we were - and quit your bellyaching. I decided to go further back in the pack since I didn't want to PO anyone who was fast. I run intervals, 2 minutes run then 1 minute walk....yeah, that lady would love me.
Left Amy to go towards the back of the pack, turned on my music and as the race gun went off started my beloved IPOD Touch Interval App, that tells me when to run and when to walk...seriously, best thing ever. I have to say, the race start was awesome. It was kind of bunched up the first mile and you know what, I was passing tons of people. Not that I am about being best, but obviously I put myself in the wrong spot at the start. The course was a little hilly not bad, but so happy to hear Beasty Boys "Fight for your right to party" come on when I hit the first hill. Yeah, its thanksgiving and for me to eat guilt free, this 6 mile race is my fight!
At the next hill my power song came on....John Williams "Olympic Fanfare" came on. When I hear this one, I see myself like a Kenyan.....upright and FAST! It always makes me feel like a true athlete when I am running to this. About this time the race had thinned a bit and I noticed I was with the PWBLM group - that is People With a Butt Like Me....you don't see any tiny shorts among us. Heck we have to be careful the spandex pants don't spread out too much so you can see what's going on under there. Not that its a bad thing to be like me, but hey, I felt like I was among my peeps. Those of us new to running or naturally slower or just trying to stave off a heart attack with some cardio ..whatever, love the PWBLM.
This race is a 3.1 mile course you run twice. Before mile 3, when I was feeling the runner love...the leader of the race passed us. The girl next to me laughed shaking her head saying "yeah, he is about to win 6.2 miles and we aren't yet at mile 3". But hey we were out there and this dude was super skinny - totally looked like a runner and he had a huge strides as he passed us shufflers. We cheered the guy on and when the dude in second came by, same runners body with those tiny shorts, I told him, "go for it, you can catch him".
As I rounded the half way point, I did the old Arsenial Hall arm move and declared to the cheering spectators "I am going around again!" They laughed and cheered me on more.
I have to say, around mile 4 I realized I was tired and ALMOST got a stitch. Based on the times yelled out at the miles, I realized I was doing better than planned. I was scared as still had to hit those hills again.....and thought I really want to beat my goal but if I am getting a stitch I need to slow it down. I pretty much did my 2/1 intervals the whole race - though this lap 2 times when I was supposed to be running - um uphill- I decided to walk to get my breath back.
Around mile 5 there was a lady sitting on a chair in her driveway with her coffee...alone. She was cheering EVERYONE on, so me and my pace buddy thanked her for coming out. I was tired and it seemed like the end of the race was uphill. I started to walk, but Chris Tomlin's "how great is our God" came on the shuffle. This is the one "inspirational" in the religious way song in my run shuffle. Its actually my favorite Praise and Worship song. I sang to myself thanking God for my health and all he has given me and my family. Guess what, got emotional and started crying as I saw the finish line in the distance.
The crying ended as fast as it came when Run DMC Walk This Way came on. When I saw the clock said 1:11, I freaked out. I was so happy.....it was a ways off, but I could beat my goal. I picked up my pace and for the end of the race, I was doing HUGE strides to try to make it under 1:13. I crossed the line at 1:12:40 with my arms raised in victory yelling "I did it, I beat my goal". There were many people standing around as the 5k race was getting ready to start. Did anyone cheer me on or clap, um, NO! And a couple people looked at me like I was nuts and I saw an eye roll. GET OVER YOURSELF LADY! Whatever, she was not the champion I was.
As I grabbed my banana and water my pace buddy whose name I don't know told me thanks for being so positive on the race. I tried to thank all the police who were blocking the roads for us as I ran and told many spectators "Happy Thanksgiving". I told her she was welcome and thanked her for being my pace buddy. She was running the whole race, so when I would walk, she would get ahead then when I ran I would run past her....happened the whole 6 miles. "You helped me as I wanted to keep up with you" I told her.
I downed my water and walked around for a while to get my heart rate down. I stretched out my foot and calves...walked some more and stretched at the van. Andy had sent me a message telling me he was proud of me and guess what, more tears....though short lived.
I drove home feeling good about getting up early and setting a goal...and beating that goal. Guess what, my time is good enough to get me out of the last start group for the half marathon in February AND is the fastest mile pace I have recorded since I started running this year. Of course I have many weeks of training left - and I will slowly build up to 13.1 miles, but its great to have set a new mile pace on a course that wasn't exactly flat.
Now its time to go eat! And while I know the running I did surely didn't burn enough calories to make up for the feast ahead, but hey, I did good today and am going to enjoy every bite.... I do have some tight jeans on though, so I will know when I am full.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.