Ahhh, another night race. I was of course pumped I had PR'd at my first night race (Flag Day 5K) and then broke that PR 3 days later at the OCRWC 5k (also a night race) this year. I also had been training better and had my own privately hired (for free) pacer - the Walrus. He had planned to run hard the next day at Johnny Cake and needed me to keep him in check tonight and make him run an easy easy pace. This would not be a problem :)
Got down to Cleveland in 25 minutes or so. How you ask? Cause I took the bike. Yep, I packed up my running gear, threw on my jacket and jeans and cruised downtown looking like a badass. I parked by the Walrus so I could stash my gear and change into my running clothes before heading for the bathrooms and checking out the scene.
It was a bit hot, but not too bad. Last year had been in the 90's and I had run terrible. This year my body had learned to acclimate itself to the heat and run better. We only did a short warm-up as was all that was needed with the heat. I told the Walrus I was going to go to the bathroom one more time before the start. The line was still kinda long, but the race was chipped and I had about 15 minutes. I finally got my chance and as I was sitting down on the toilet I heard "One minute until the start of the 4 miler!" What the hell? I checked my watch 5:24, I still had 6 friggin' minutes. Dammit!! I pulled up my pants and jumped out of the porta-john. I began jogging up to the start looking for the Walrus, but too late. The race had begun and I was still 200 meters from the start. All I could think was... "it's always something." Last year the race had started 10-15 minutes late. What were they doing? Making up for lost time??
I looked around and looked around but could not find the Walrus. Time was ticking away and most of the runners were through the mats. I knew I was going to be starting with the slower runners now and would have to fight my way through the pack. Shit!!! I had no choice. I left without my pacer. I began weaving my way around runners and trying to stay to the inside but it was so congested. I was already breathing fairly heavy, but was not too concerned as I have been going out hard the first mile as of late. Before we made the turn to go up Hell Bridge 1 as I call it I sensed someone running up like a bat out of hell behind me. I thought this guy is going to blow up or he is like me and got a late start, but then he fell in on my shoulder and I took a minute to look and it was none other than the Walrus. He had found me!!! Sometimes the dedication the Walrus puts into his training makes me wonder if he remembers he has a girlfriend and what her name is because he is soooo busy with it, but then days like these where he runs through 1000 people to find me so he can push me through the race for a PR and take a very slow time for himself reminds me how much he does care.
It was time to focus now. He knew I had to get up in the pack. The inside was jam packed with runners so we had no choice but to cut to the outside and begin passing. I was definately breathing hard when we got up the bridge to the first mile. My watch was all messed up so all I know is it was sub 8:00. Good that is what I wanted, even better because it was uphill. The second mile I tried to relax and catch my breathing but it just wasn't coming. I was all over the place. I saw my friend Carol ahead and we caught her right before the water station. I was barely moving at this point. Mile 2 was around 8:46. What was going on??!! The Walrus was furious. He began barking orders at me to control my breathing, relax my body and use my arms. He said an 8:46 mile was bullshit and he was just not having that. I started to get pissed, but knew he was only trying to push me, so I had no choice but to channel that anger and try to pick it back up. Mile 3 was better around 8:10-8:30, but then Hell Bridge 2 loomed ahead. Another uphill. The Walrus yelled to use my arms and I did and it worked!! I was up the hill in good time and on the downhill, but my quads were shot. The question was now would I be able to hold on.
Side note: I had run my long run on Thursday of 15 miles and done speedwork on Tuesday and swam and biked on Friday. My "A" goal was Columbus in October, so I knew these weekend races were "B" goals. It did not matter though I still wanted to run them and run them well.
The Walrus told me to use the downhill as my recovery before the push up Huron to the finish. I tried to recover and keep my foot turn over up as we accelerated down the hill. Finally, we made the turn to Huron with about .6 miles to go. I hit the last uphill and the hill hit me back. Uugghhh!! I started to slow again and the Walrus began pulling away. No, No, No. If he had sacraficed his race to push me I was not going to give up without a fight. I bullied my way forward. My breathing went to hell and the wheezing became erratic and loud, but I made it up the hill and managed to pass a few people. He turned around one last time on the straight away to the finish and yelled, "C'mon lets get some people." "Yeah lets, " I thought. I felt like I was dying inside my legs were turning to cement and my lungs were on fire. I could not get any oxygen in or out, but with whatever was left in my body I pushed on and tried to catch the Walrus as he pulled ahead. Finally I crossed the mat in 33:27, but it was not over.
I was wheezing bad. I had a headache and felt disoriented. I went to walk it off but after a minute I had to sit. About 5 minutes later I regained my composure and grabbed some water the Walrus had found for me. The Walrus told me "Good Job." I had PR'd by 1:33. Sweet!!! I ended up 29th in my AG which was very very disappointing until I found out there were 125 women. I was only a little disappointed after hearing that.
The Walrus ate a sandwhich and hung aroud with me before heading home to rest for his big day tomorrow. I on the other hand had busted my ass all week, raced hard tonight and hung out with some friends and enjoyed a margarita before heading home. I was happy I had beat my old time, but as usual just cranky I was still 23 seconds a mile off that sub 8:00. Oh well, tomorrow would be either a rest day or an easy easy run at Johnny Cake or would it????