OK, I entered a popular 40,000+ entrants 12k race when I was 10 and ran most of the way. And I entered it as a walking participant or walk/jog participant a few times since as a fun thing to do. But never, other than since I was 10 years old, have I actually entered a running race with the idea that I was going to run the whole way. And not until today did I succeed.
The race was a trail run, and I thought I knew the park it was in well enough to know that the hills wouldn’t really be a big deal. I didn’t. I did two full length practice runs. One practice 10k on a flat road back in the snow 13 weeks ago I finished in just over an hour. Three weeks ago on my treadmill, which is stuck with a minimum of ½% incline I was able to do in 72 minutes. I can never run fast on that thing with the slope!
So here I am at the start watching the 5k race finish about 15 minutes before I go. I was truly inspired by some of these runners coming in. The first overall female was a girl in the 10-11 range by my estimate. She was likely just out of the top ten overall. That little girl has determination and drive. We almost entered my daughter in it this year but for a scheduling conflict that put me there all alone waiting for the start.
I started to figure out how to put my key in my shoelaces and decided that I should not have brought the little remote along too. So with exactly 5 minutes to start I find myself jogging back to my car which must have been almost a quarter mile. I was thinking this was very stupid, but hey maybe being extremely well warmed up will give me something to compare to the next time I race when I avoid doing just that. As I am running back I hear them announcing 10 seconds to start, I won’t even have to stop cause I am 20 seconds away. But then they have a timer chip malfunction and they backed everyone up and I had 30 seconds to rest and another 40 seconds to shuffle to the official start line, there must have been 300+ people.
Within 1 minute I notice a guy running next to me and recognize him. We chatted it up for a minute. He was running it because his wife was, not because he himself trained, so has no hopes of having a good time. He is just doing it for her sort of thing. I asked him what he thought his time might be and he said 1:15. That just about ended the conversation for me. I was thinking oh crap, I need to lose him fast and pick up the pace, because I want under an hour. Although my real goal was simply to never stop running.
So I start passing people and latched on to the shoulder of a girl that had a slightly faster pace than everyone around. I was huffing down her neck for a good mile and a half till the big hill where I had to slow it up. So I thank the girl in the long sleeve orange shirt for helping me. My extra weight has certainly dwindled but it is still there as I am sitting around 191 still wishing the 180’s would sneak up on me one of these days. That weight up a hill makes for more work, literally, as in work from the physics equation (think dragging a spare tire up a hill). I only had a vague idea of the mile 1 and mile 2 markers because I had estimated them on google maps with the distance measurement tool. And, “its simply the westernmost point on this large curve” works great on a map, but I didn’t have a compass or the desire to figure out which way was north, so all I knew was that I think I did the first mile in less than 9 minutes and the second in 9 ½. As we hit mile 3 they had a sign and I passed it at 28:02 so I had averaged 9:21 for the first 3 miles. I was pretty stoked cause I was thinking this under an hour thing has a slight chance after all.
The loop finally turned around and headed back at about 3.2-3.3 miles and I got a drink of water. Somehow that water was very refreshing and helped me push it for the next few minutes. The next water station must have been set up for placement on the other longer races the 25k and 50k. Cause it was way too soon for another one. I heard them say they had Gatorade but I had already grabbed the water. I still think I should have taken the Gatorade cause I needed a little boost. I got stuck behind a string of people headed down a rocky trail to the river’s edge. This sucked because I typically make up for the slow uphill by actually running downhill. Without that I get to the next uphill and get passed by a few people. After mile 4 which was somewhere around 37 and some unknown number of seconds I started thinking I was going to start my kick with 1.2 miles left.
By now I was almost certain I had the under and hour in the bag, although I also felt like it sure would feel good to walk for a bit. But my real goal before the race was to not walk at all so I kept myself from doing that. The trail was skinny at this point and I stared getting passed as we hit some rolling hills. I would slow on the up and get stuck behind others on the down. Finally, on what seemed like the last downhill it widened out and I moved to the left and passed all 10 of the people that had just passed me running what seemed a full minute per mile faster pace. Then to my dismay we stared up the last uphill section. I again was caught by most of them and the last flat section that was only a half mile long was not enough with the extra kick everyone had in mind to get back ahead. I still had my uphill heart rate spike in full effect.
The last older lady to pass me was about 30-50 yards ahead on the final stretch and there were two girls behind me by about 15 yards for the last stretch. I thought in my head I was going to out kick the lady in front of me, but I could hear the two behind me. One girl was egging her friend on pushing to the max. We had all picked it up quite a bit and she was really putting her all into it. I was very tired and my brain decided it just wouldn’t be fair to go and sprint by that lady at the end and those girls behind me were doing absolutely everything they could to catch me. I think I could have pulled it out and really hit my max to do it, but, mentally I just sort of decided I had already picked up my pace, if they can catch me then they get that much of a boost and I already have my goal in the bag. I don’t want to say I gave it away or anything, if you reason in your brain that it’s the right thing to do to not pick it up if you can, well then that is the definition of not being able to. They passed me with about 10 feet to go and I had my finish in 57:26. This is an average of 9:15 per mile for a hilly trail which is faster than I would have thought I could go.
Oh and the guy that I started the race with? He passed me by mile 2 and beat my by 3 minutes. Sandbagger. I was eating the snacks and drinks, checked the prize board to be sure I didn’t win anything, and saw that my time put me at 118/136 men. All I can say is that is one fast group of people that decided to show up to this race. It was a lot of fun to be a “true” member of this “wacko” group of people that have the spirit of competition inside themselves and with each other.
So I have to finish it off pointing out that I now have a PR. Everyone else talks of thiers so now I have mine set. Two weeks I do the 12k, running beside my wife, something we need to do together to get her more into this stuff. Then two weeks from that I will be doing a half-marathon. Then, it is on to the triathlons.