A special birthday edition post on The Chronicle of the Horse!
For my Triathlon ‘off-season’ this year, I’ve pledged to keep my body in race ready shape by working on my 6 mile pacing / overall run time because ultimately I have this fire burning within to be more competitive with the Oly distance. Running is my weakest leg of the Triathlon. Even though my body is built for sprinting, I don’t like to run fast. If I run, I very much prefer slow endurance, did you see my Turtle shirt? Granted, I am still slow with open water swims; however, my weakness there is lack of Confidence (that dreaded C word appearing) and not swimming.
I really have no excuses. I often think about how lucky I am to have these strong legs, lungs, and heart so that I CAN run. I often think about the people who wish maybe even dream about running, but physically can’t because they are battling significant health issues instead. I am fortunate right now to have the choice to run anytime, anywhere.
I am signed up for a couple of running races (is that what they are called if under a 1/2 marathon?), so that I stay on track with my ultimate goal of completing 6 miles under 1 hour. My first off-season race is the 5.17 mile (yup, the .17 matters when talking about time) Bull City Race Fest. Why Fest you ask? Because runners like to eat and drink beer apparently, but I prefer the cupcake. A little bird told me there is a cupcake truck at the Finish, so I faithfully believed them. I challenged myself to run the race 50 minutes or under. I then pictured a cupcake with striped green & orange leggings coming up behind me, running past me and towards the Finish hollering catch me if you can. This imagery is not too far-fetched because some people did dress up in costume for this race. Entertaining for sure and breaks up all the seriousness.
It’s 5:35 AM and a chilly 48 degrees. I have already spotted the Port-a-Stinks. Could something else be invented, please? Those are the worst part of racing. Due to my experience with dark o’clock, I am one of the first to get checked in and grab my bib. The T-shirt is very nice, great job organizers! I spend the next hour back in my car napping with one eye open on the time. I don’t typically run with music because you can’t have anything in your ears per USAT rules, but decided this was a fun race and I would indulge myself. I download exactly 50 minutes worth of songs.
The announcer asks us to line up around the starting area. With 5900 runners this really isn’t a line up more of a crowd up. My inexperience shows here because there are run pacers with signs – 7:30, 8:00, 8:30 and upwards. I thought these were for the 1/2 marathon runners and not the rest of us. I position myself at the back of the bus. Literally. The gun goes off and I feel like this is more related to open water swimming than running and am battling out my space to get from the back to the front without injury to anyone. This is a real struggle because my mind would much prefer I stay safely behind a slower runner. I zigzag through the runners and catch up with the 10:30 pacer. My first 3 miles were somewhere in the 10-11 pace range which is where I am at right now on a rolling hills type course. Give me a flat run and I can zoom a bit more. My plan was to sprint the last 2 miles. Along the way, I saw so many people I knew. Hugs & High Fives! How cool was it to run a bit with my friends who I admire from our run club? Very cool, and motivating!
The course was quite hilly, but I was feeling great and ready to push to my limits. At the 3 mile mark I was prepared mentally to gear up. I felt like my legs were flying with quick turnover, but I wasn’t breaking the speed of sound according to my watch. I did manage to push out 9 minute miles for 4 and 5. I almost lost it right there at the Finish. First time I’ve felt like that. Odd feeling, but it didn’t last long and I think it was just the limits. Gun time was 54 minutes and change, but my watch was 51 minutes and change. Not sure which one is correct. I am going with something in between. Really happy with the result.
And I ate the damn cupcake.