TOMORROW'S THE DAY!
That race I have been dreading and anticipating is finally here. The Fifth Third River Bank Run is the largest 25k event in the US. It is also the 25k National Championship race. This is the 30th anniversary of the race, so this, along with my yearly goals, is what has prompted me to want to do this race so badly this year.
My first realization of the race came in 1983. At the time, I was hugely pregnant for my third child. This particular pregnancy had been hard on me, and my usual exercising self had slacked off for most of the term. The race was on a Saturday, and I had to go to work that day (24 years later, nothing much has changed there!), but knew I would have to wait until afternoon for the race to clear out. At that time, the race had the name Old Kent Riverbank Run, because Old Kent was the name of the bank and the building I worked in. Fifth Third acquired Old Kent back in 2001, and thus the name changed to the Fifth Third River Bank Run. Because the race was starting and finishing near the bank building, I knew I could not get to work until it was over. That particular day, there was a torrential downpour of rain early in the day. It was hot and muggy too. For some reason, the TV was on and the start of the race was being televised, and it caught my attention. Something back then clicked in my head and even while hugely pregnant, I thought to myself: "Some day I am going to do that race." (Where did that thought come from??) Up to that particular year, Greg Meyer, a local boy, and the 1983 winner of the Boston Marathon (still the last American winner), had also won the race 7 times.
Fast forward to 1989, the year after I actually started running, and after another child, and I did in fact run the race that year. I dutifully trained for it all winter long, suffering through a stress fracture, ankle tendinitis, and knowing nothing about proper clothing or hydration. No wicking clothing, no Gatorade or sports drinks, no gel or Gu. Just water, if I even carried that, since I had no waterbottle holder. But I was determined to do the race, and we even had a team from work, so we got uniforms out of the deal with the firm name printed across the front! And I wasn't the last team member to finish, so that was a bonus.
So here I am, 18 years later, severely undertrained, but determined again to do this race. The race itself is a big community event, although it has taken probably 10 years to build it to what it is now. Before that, it was pretty much known as a community nuisance, since the race winds through 4 different municipalities, which naturally means road closures and traffic tieups. People avoided the area like the plague and generally complained for days before and after. This year, there will be over 4,000 25k runners and probably the same amount of 5k runners, 5k walkers, and kid runners. As a matter of fact, my grandson, Austin who is 7, ran in the kids race on Wednesday night. This is a non-competitive event for kids 5-12. Many of the local school districts have running clubs they start early in the year so the kids can log miles and eventually earn enough points to get a free entry to the race. We figured Austin might do 3-4 laps max, and he actually wanted to know how many he could do, so it was totally surprising when after 8 laps we told him he could stop if he wanted. By then, he was so red faced I was worried about him. I'm sure he would have continued on, but I don't think he has ever run that far at one time. And he drank a whole bottle of water after, so I know it was the right thing to do. There is hope though that this kid can run a 5k yet this summer, and I'm willing to try to keep up with him doing one!
So the race is here. Am I ready, especially after all the goings on these last few weeks and what I consider to be difficult training runs? As ready as I will ever be. I have decided to treat this only as another training run (I am not foolish enough to think I could ever race this thing!) and do what I can do. If I pace myself well enough from the beginning, and if my foot doesn't bother me too much on the bad part of the course, I think I can get through the whole thing, mixed in with some planned walking of course. As for having fun? I think it won't be fun in the first 3 miles, might get fun in the next 6, and then it will be time to grit my teeth and get through the rest of the distance.
Doing a 25k is as hard for me as doing a marathon, and this particular race is known for its fast times, so you don't have the luxury of making it "your run." You are under a time deadline (3 hours), and then they pull up the water stops, open the roads to traffic, and shut down the clocks, although I do know the clock keeps running for at least another 30 minutes after that. I know this is part of my mental hangup about the race, but I do figure there will be walkers out there doing the whole 25k, and I would assume they won't be any faster than me.
I'll be off to the expo later today to get my packet and then I'm just going to chill and wait.