I'M BECOMING A RACE JUNKIE.
Believe it or not, I ran another 5k today. I have Don to thank for that. He's "recovering" from a 50k a couple of weeks ago, so instead, he wants to run all these 5ks. So, once again, we headed out in the cold for another race.
I tried to find the race application yesterday afternoon on one of the race websites, but only found that preregistration was closed and a few runner comments from previous races. The comments were all good, indicating what a great race it was, etc. It also emphasized the hills on the course. Oh great, another killer course.
The race didn't start until 10 am again, making it nice so I didn't have to set any alarms to get up. But the complicating part of the time was I had a benefit breakfast to go to right after that lasted from 8 until noon. The location was about 60 miles in the opposite direction from the race. The benefit was for my niece, who suffers from myasthenia gravis, an autoimmunte disease, that resulted in her having major surgery in November, and which the pancake breakfast was being held to offset some of the costs of the surgery for her parents. (They figure after insurance pays their "share," they will still have an $80,000 hospital bill to cover themselves.) This was the second of two fundraisers, and I had to miss the first one too, so really felt an obligation to try to make it today, as inconvenient as it would be.
Typically, riding to a race with Don is an adventure since we rarely leave early and are always getting there late. Riding with him, you'd better be prepared to not have to go to the bathroom when you get there and pretty much hop out of the car and start the race!
And that's almost what happened. The directions I got from Mapquest were mistakenly for the middle school which I didn't know, so after wandering around the small city of Portland, MI, looking for the race, we discovered we were at the end of a cul-de-sac, and you guessed it. No race there. Mind you, it was 9:45 and I was really starting to panic. We hadn't even signed up yet! I notice a car go by that looked like it had runners in it, so we followed that one and fortunately found our way to the race site.
We hop out of the car, it is 9:50, run into the school, sign up, and then I head for the bathroom. Don disappears, but I couldn't worry about that now. I see a few people I know, but don't stop to chit chat. When I come out of the bathroom, no Don. I still have my race packet to get rid of. It is now 9:56. I head for the car, hoping to find him, but he's not there. All right, I've got to ditch the race bag and shirt, so I stick it practically under the front wheel up near the curb. I couldn't see it no matter which direction I stood, so figured it was safe. Small town, remember?
I head to the start, which at that point I didn't realize was about 3/4 a mile away! It is cold, probably about 28, and windy. But dry! A very tolerable cold for me as long as it is dry. I get to the line up and see they are running towards me. No time to run around the barriers put up, so I just plow through and head toward the back. I only recognize a couple of women, my friend Kathy, and the Cheater. She must go to just about every race too because her husband is a good runner. Like I said before, she got caught "cheating" at races a few years ago because she used her husband's chip and he used hers, always giving her a faster time. When you KNOW you pass someone in a race and then they take YOUR award, you figure out what's going on. There was no way she was going to talk to me or me her.
This is a very popular race, having been around maybe 9 years, although one I have never done. Usually, the weather is horrible, but everyone is commenting on how "nice" it is. While I am busy putting clothes on, there are always those taking them off. In fact, as I approached the start, the race director announced, "Last chance to take your sweats off!" Umm, brr.
The race starts, and as I cross the start line I look at my watch and see 9 seconds have passed. That's the last time I let myself look at my watch until I'm done. Immediately, people rush forward, and everyone behind me is now passing. There seem to be a LOT of older women, and they are all passing me. Not many walkers, so I don't have the luxury of passing too many myself. I decide to just do the best I can do. Once again, its not like I actually was prepared for this race. Not that a 5k should tire me out that much, but it is the cumulative effects of everything else I did this week thatm had I not done, I might be better off today. I really had no way of knowing until I got out there.
So we are off, and I am just trying to hold a decent pace, whatever it is. I am on the lookout for those big hills I heard about, and couldn't help but notice on the way through town. But we hit the first mile marker and still no hill. And the surprising thing was, my first mile was 10:23. Okay, I didn't need to see that. I really felt I was going too fast, but can't actually say I slowed down, I just had a moment of worry.
And before you know it, there is hill number 1. First down a steep grade, and then up. I hold my ground and pass some people walking, but once they get toward the top, they start running again and I can't catch them. I did lose a couple of people behind me though. Before the second mile, naturally, the second hill comes up. About this time, I am at a place in the race where I am no longer getting passed, but I have no way of catching anyone unless they start walking. I hit mile 2 at 21:16, almost an 11 min. mile. I am sure I slowed some without realizing because I thought I was going too fast before and the two hills thrown in, but I am still okay in my mind with this. I don't particularly feel too good, a little like low blood sugar coming on, so my arms feel week. But I do not think I have to walk and just keep plugging along, looking forward to the 2.5 mile mark which takes you back onto school grounds.
I am actually thinking I am not cold and am feeling a little warm, having turned out of the wind. But just then, I turn the last corner onto the campus and the wind hits you full blast in the face. This really is making it hard. I have to put my head down some to keep pushing through this. It is cold, I want to be done, and there are two women who walked a good portion of the 2nd mile who are now catching up. Just before the 3 mile mark, they pass me, and at the same time some idiot woman backs out of her parking spot, almost taking all 3 of us out. I jump out of the way, but the younger women just laugh. I think to myself, if you were run down by this woman, you wouldn't be so quick to laugh!
Believe me, at this point I couldn't wait to finish this thing. Where was that finish line?? I could hear them announcing finish times but it was that old feeling of not being able to get there. Like in a dream. It seemed to take forever! The two women I mentioned earlier had actually stopped to walk again after the 3 mile mark! But now they came blazing past me, and fairly passed, although I felt it was a cheap shot. My finish time: 33:35. So my last 1.1 mile was 12:19, just about what I predicted.
Don was already done and he says, "You let a 74 year old woman beat you!" No, I didn't let her. I never saw her, she was so much faster!
We grabbed waters, and headed into the school to grab some food before heading out again. I have to say, they had a pretty impressive spread: vegetarian chili; rolls; bread; muffins; apples; bananas; oranges; tossed salad in individual bowls; Krispy Kreme donuts; cookies; and I don't know what else. The line was so long, I just grabbed a couple of apples and we headed to the car to change. Don changed in the back seat, and I actually braved the cold and stood outside the car between the doors, like in the summer! I think I am turning into a polar bear.
Then we head back to Grand Rapids and beyond to get to the breakfast. I call my daughter, who has left me numerous messages: "Where are you!" "We're on the way." No need to alarm anyone we will be cutting it close, getting there by the skin of our teeth. Thankfully, the weather was good enough we didn't get held up and made it to the breakfast with 20 minutes to spare!
One of these weeks, I MUST start adding to my mileage, but in the meantime, I have had fun. I am learning a new strategy: go and have fun. I haven't allowed myself to do this for so long, always thinking I needed to be running by someone else's standards. I am using my accident to capitalize on the fact that that slowed me down, which it did, but my own lack of training for so long contributed, so now I feel I can run uninhindered, not caring what others think, but still knowing I am running the best I am able to right now and enjoying myself no matter the outcome.