I am almost too embarrassed to write a post about this past Saturday’s race. I debated not doing it at all. But since I have written a recap of every race I have done since starting this blog (and even one of a race I ran before starting the blog at all) I thought it would be weird not to. So here I am.
It’s not what you think. I am not embarrassed of my performance or my time or my effort. I am embarrassed because I committed one of the most amateur cardinal runner sins of race day. I was late.
I’m not even entirely sure how I ended up being late either. It wasn’t one of those situations where I mis-set or slept through my alarm. I didn’t get caught in traffic or get delayed by some personal crisis. I don’t know what to say. I just completely misjudged my time schedule for the morning (including how long it would take me to drive from my apartment to the race site) and at some point during the drive realized that I was going to be late and got pummeled with anxiety. Since the race wasn’t far away and I knew that the it was smaller and there would be tons of parking at the site, I aimed to get there with just enough time to use the bathroom and do some stretching for a few minutes at the starting line. I got to my last race too early and ended up waiting in the chilly weather and getting a bit too worked up so I was trying to avoid that. Clearly I misjudged the situation entirely and should never take such an approach again. Complete runner fail.
I ran up to the starting area to see a few 10k runners milling around who told me that the half had started only moments ago. I managed to hunt down a race staff person who helped me out. Race staff like this man are saints in my book. He was so nice to me – honestly nicer than he needed to be given the fact that I was late to the party.
He walked me to the starting line and told me the directions of the first little bit of the race, assuring me I would catch the slowest pace group in no time. He was so patient and let me wait for my Garmin to get a signal (I would have just taken off but I knew that, starting from behind, I would need my watch to stay aware of my pace). When I was ready he even encouraged me to take a few deep breaths and just calm down; I’m sure it was clear I was freaking out from my erratic behavior and multiple apologies. I thanked him again and took off.
Even though my adrenaline was out of control and the first half mile of the course was a downhill, I managed not to go out way too fast. Probably because my heart was pumping so hard that my perceived exertion was much higher than my actual exertion until I was able to settle down.
I did catch up to the rear of the field quickly and from then on got to have the interesting experience of running a race where everyone else had a couple minute head start. I passed pacers ranging from 16 minutes per mile to 9 minutes per mile. I can’t remember a runner ever passing me. It was a challenge to really pace myself properly on my own because I was never sure if the part of the field I was in was running the pace I wanted.
I remember looking down at my watch around mile 5 and thinking that I finally felt comfortable (yes, after that chaotic start it took me five miles to chill out). From there I began to enjoy the race much more and got into a really great groove that stayed in tact for most of the remaining miles.
The course was an out and back that ran along Crabtree Creek Greenway in Raleigh. They had to add a few extra mini out and backs onto two parts of the course a few weeks before the race because part of the greenway was closed. The little additions were a bit of a bother but overall I really enjoyed the course. I am used to running on the Raleigh greenways and always appreciate the scenery. However, being alongside a creek, the trail had gotten damp, muddy and slick during a storm the night before. The trail also includes several long segments of wooden boardwalks that cross over the creek and nearby swampy areas. The boardwalks provided really interesting views but were also wet and not the best for keeping solid footing.
The route only had substantial hills at the beginning and around the turn-around point so I started on a big downhill, stayed flat for quite a while, went up and down some rolling hills, followed by more prolonged flatness, and then had to climb the hill back to the start with about a half mile remaining.
Let me tell you, that hill was a beast. The groove that I had found after the first five miles was finally deflated and I can’t remember ever wanting to walk so badly during a race. I just kept telling myself that it was stupid to walk in the last half mile and that no one had passed me the entire race and now wasn’t the time to let them. When I finally reached the peak, gasping for air, I only had a few seconds to catch my breath before seeing the 13 mile marker and starting my push to the finish line.
I came in at 1:48:22 by my chip time (slightly less by my watch somehow).
It was about 9:30 by the time I met up with Jeremy, chugged down some water, and collected myself. Awards didn’t start until 10:30 and I just didn’t feel like sticking around for an hour so we headed home where I began a several hour recovery session (shower + pajamas + compression socks + couch + SO much food + Lord of the Rings). It was only much later that evening when I went online to check the results that I saw this…
Apparently I placed 3rd out of 39 in my age group, 11th out of 235 women, and 61st out of 424 for the whole field. A pleasant surprise to say the least. I have never placed top 3 in any race so it never occurred to me that I should stay for the awards because I might get one, and I guess I missed out on a $5 gift card because of it.
Overall, I had an enjoyable time and am feeling pretty good about where I am after this race. It wasn’t a PR and I think I could have done better under a few different circumstances but it is cool to have finished in such a high place and the race definitely served its purposed in the greater scheme of my marathon training. I would absolutely run this race again in the future… and if I do I will make sure to not be a complete dummy (again) and will be on time.
Have you ever been late to a race? Did anyone else run a race this weekend? How did it go?