The rain was light, but the humidity had finally started to die down Saturday morning. I rolled out of bed at 7:00am to head down to Howe Meadow to meet a friend from college for this race. I had emailed her a week ago letting her know I would run this with her and her family so we could catch up. Jules had just graduated with her bachelor's and was putting in base mileage in preparation for the Akron marathon. I was a tad tired from work last night and almost wishing I hadn't committed to this event after my poor race the other night and the hard workout the day before.
Thursday, I had taken a rest and regroup day regarding this whole running, biking, swimming thing. I thought about why I was so unmotivated and sluggish as of late and decided the best plan was to hammer out some hard training in the next few weeks to distract myself from the never ending career search and the financial stress of not being a millionaire while increasing the probability of successfully completing my big race at the end of this month.
Day 1 was Friday and a little after noon I whipped out my bike and went for a bruatally hot 31 mile ride. It was so freakin' hot I almost bagged it at about 4 miles out, but then I thought better of it an decided to push for another 5-6 miles and then see how I felt. I felt okay, so foregoed the bagging and completed the ride. However, it was just too hot to brick it outside so I added a 40 minute treadmill run after, showered and headed into work.
Day 2 was Saturday. Legs tight and tired I headed down to Peninsula. I saw on the race form this course was mostly flat and scenic, but I had heard it was false flats the first 5k and uphill the second 5k. My plan was to go out really easy the first 5k and negative split the second 5k even with the hills. Time wise, I just wanted to break 50 minutes. My fastest 10k was 2 years ago on a cross country course. I had no PR last year because I was a) hungover b) the course was short c) the course was long. I had run a 51:16 10k during the Cleveland Marathon, but that didn't count. I figured today would be a baby step in the right direction.
I had to walk through a field and up a hill about a quarter mile to get to the school for registration. Inside I found my friends milling around already registered and bib'd up. I had filled out the form ahead of time and brought my money. The form said $15, but the day of registration person said it was not $15. It was in fact $20. I explained to him it did not say $20 on the form, but he said it was a mistake. I was a little annoyed, but paid the additional $5. Then the guy started talking to another guy and ignored me. My bib remained on the table as I waited for it. I was still waiting for it.....still waiting. "Okay, look dude, seriously I have a race in 30 minutes and my bib is sitting there all filled out. Can I take it?" "Oh yeah, yeah, sorry," handing me the bib. I then stepped over to pick up my shirt. This guy asked what size I wanted and I replied "small." He was out of smalls. He was out of mediums too. He told me I could get a large or x-large. He informed me that they ran small. Look buddy, they may be small, but in no right mind am I a large....I took the large. He took my bib. "No, it took me forever to get that thing! Give it back!" I kept thinking in the back of my head. He made a big X on the back of my bib just in case I tried to come through and get another shirt that was too big for me a second time.
It was now 20 minutes to race time. I had to get a move on. I told my friends I would be back up in a minute and hurried back to my truck to drop my gear. Jogged back down the hill for a warm-up through my t-shirt in the car and started to pin my bib onto my racing jersey and noticed a blue mark. "Aaarrggghh." The pen mark on my bib was running in the rain and staining my white jersey. I grabbed a water bottle and poured it on my jersey using my large JK shirt to wipe out the pen. Hmmmm, I decided to pin the jersey to the black shorts I had on.
Warm-up by jogging a little more back up the hill to the porta-potty. After, instead of warming up for a few more minutes I opted to talk to my friends and try to treat this as a fun run.
I was not too nervous as I couldn't imagine running any worse than the other night. I had nothing to lose. Race started as most races do with a fast first mile. I focused on keeping myself in check even though women were running by me left and right. I have developed this terrible habit of thinking I am going out too slow, when in fact I ALWAYS go out too hard now. The first mile was probably the ony flat mile in the race. Never having run the course before I didn't knw you actually run down to a cone and loop back up the street before the first mile. I counted the females in front of me as they ran by. 12!! I was the 13th woman at mile 1. New goal: finish top 10 women.
The next 2 miles I passed three women (whooo hooo, goal reached: I was in the tope 10 women) and had my left hamstring SCREAM at me, "Stop dammit!! I worked hard yesterday and we raced on Wednesday and last Sunday! I don't know who you think you are, but a 10k racer today is not on the list!!!" Oh lord, it is always something as of late. If it isn't a mental thing, it's physical. Blah! Running is such an easy thing, but racing, well it is all about strategy for me. It was gut-check time. I was going to run until my hammy gave me the whammy. I could see two women up ahead. I had planned on trying to catch them, but now it seemed less than likely. I did however run a faster first 5k at this race than I did on Wednesday.
The next 5k was all hills. We turned down by Salazy's and there were a bunch of cars waiting for us to run through. A few drivers seemed really upset that we were impeding on their road. It was 9:30am on a Saturday morning though, where were they off to in such a hurry? I was still running with a pain in my hammy, but it was manageable. The worst of the race was definitely mile 4 which has a nice big hill you pump your arms and push up only to find that isn't the top and another climb lies ahead. The legs were feeling the burn. I could see one woman ahead of me a couple hundred meters, but it was too far to try and reel her in. I never looked back so I had no clue how close any women were behind me. I was however, surround by men. There was a group of 6-8 guys with me most of the way back. I tended to lose them on the uphills, but catch back up on the downs. I was running out of gas. I had not done a run over an hour in 4 weeks and it was showing more and more every step. I knew I would not be negative splitting this one, but I figured the sub-50 was still doable, although I had stopped looking at my splits after the first half. I held my pace until I saw the school and then picked it up. I managed to run one guy down, but just couldn't pick off the other one. Time 49:21, so I broke the 50 min barrier and PR'd by about 6 minutes.
I grabbed some gatorade and milled around for a few minutes before attempting a cool down, but when I went to run the pain had grown sharp in my hammy. I was not going to be running anywhere else today. I walked up the road a little to cheer my college buddy in. Go Jules!!! She had developed one of those nasty collar bone cramps but still finished strong.
The post race food was french toast!! Mmmmmm, yummy. The top 3 winners received trophies and I won myself a ceramic coaster with the JK logo on it for 2nd in my age group (the woman I had seen in front of me the entire race..., well she was first in our age group...haha). She got the exact same coaster ;) I was whipped and soar, but I was so happy to have come down to see my girlfriend it was all worth it.
Now, it is 2 days later and the hammy still hurts. I think I just really, really overworked it and caused a minor strain, so no running today either. I know it does not seem like I made the right decision, but I am so stubborn and believe me, the hammy will heal faster than my pride would have.