It ended good, but it really didn't start that way....
Friday night I did not request off from work and of course my boss scheduled me until close, so I knew I would not be getting home from work until midnight or a little after. However, as luck would have it a fellow co-worker offered to close so I could beat feet and get some sleep before the race. Elated, I busted my hump to get all my work done before I was cut from the floor. I had already packed my gear and taken it to work as my parents only live about 15 minutes away from Mantua and I planned to sleep there, but as luluck was not on my side and my freakin' contact popped out at work and I lost it!!! Uugghh, now one way or another I had to go back home that night to get another one. Damn!! I called my parents and told them I might not be coming afterall, but my dad persuaded me that one way or another I would have to make the trip so just to come tonight and not in the morning. I took his suggestion and by 1:00am made it to bed at their house.
I did not sleep peacefully as I never do the night before a race and to make matters worse when I woke up my knee was stiff from where I had fallen on it earlier in the week, my nose was stuffy and my throat was scratchy. WTF! I thought "I mut be coming down with something - GREAT!" I had already paid for the race and I was going to meet up with some friends. I really wanted to use this race to gauge my training and where I was at for the marathon relay. I got dressed and went downstairs to eat breakfast and complain to my mother about all my problems. She put out her cigarette and told me to quit whining and just go run. I left with a full, upset tummy worried today might be a disaster.
I arrived to Crestwood High School around 7:40am. I needed to get in 16 miles that day so the plan was to run a 2 mile warm-up, 9 mile race and 5 mile cooldown. I was one of the first cars there. That was odd the race was at 8:30am or so I thought. I walked in and picked up my packet, which consisted of only a bib as I opted for "no t-shirt." (I have so many shirts I don't even wear and yep, I am a cheap mothertrucker so I saved myself $2). I did stop by to vote for my favorite mile marker, which was 2nd!! Number 1 was completely frickin' cool, but it didn't win (bummer).
By the time I started my warm-up it was 7:50am and there still weren't many cars there. Hmmm, that was odd for an 8:30 start. It was sprinkling a little so I decided to not to warm-up in my racing flats or my jersey. I wanted the dryest gear possible today. I had forgotten my body glide at home and I was hoping to avoid getting a blister on my feet. I jogged almost out to the one mile and back and around the parking lot for 20 minutes, which I knew would be at least 2 miles. It was very blah. My legs felt dead and I was wondering if running 4x800 repeats 2 days prior had been a really bad idea. I then ran into Jules and family and discovered the 1-mile started at 8:30am and the 9 mile started at 9:00am...Duh!!! Now, that made way more sense. By this time the lot was now filling up. I debated whether I should run a few more miles to stay "warmed-up," but decided hanging out with friends was more fun and I had to hit the bathroom a few times that morningtoo.
As the start time neared I changed into my racing flats and jersey. I even switched into clean, completely dry socks. I had my gels and took 2 endurolytes just in case my hammy's decided to pull a crampfest on me today. While, we were standing at the start waiting for the potato chip start line to be laid one of my friends that I had known since high school arrived and whoo hoo!!! It was great to see him. He was with his sister who teaches in Mantua and I got big hugs from both. She just had another baby and he is running his first marathon this weekend (which I am totally going to...GO DANNER!!!) We chatted for a minute, but start time was here so they wished me good luck and moved away.
"Okay, Heier it's now or never. Get your head ready." We, runners took "our marks, got set...and WENT!! I started about 2 rows back and "stomped" my chips as I crossed over to begin my first mile. I hadn't run anything over a 10k race since the marathon and was trying to be conservative. I wanted to go out at a good pace to hold for 5-6 miles and then hammer the sh%t out of the last 3, but it seemed like the runners were ALL pulling ahead of me right off the bat! Oh no, was I going out that slow? The first year I ran this race I just wanted to finish and made it in 1:27:xx, then 2 years ago I finished in 1:18:xx, but this year I was confident I could run sub-1:12:00 (8:00/mile), It seemed however, that I was moving like a turtle in comparison. I was a bit worried. I have come to accept that I am a slow starter, in the way that if I push too hard in the beginning I will blow up, but if I go out and pick it up I am much more successful. I had no choice, I lied to myself and said, "it was okay, let them go." But it wasn't okay. In past years, I always managed to pass people after mile 5 so I was hoping that was the case again and I would not be one of the people getting passed.
I slogged through the first mile with this woman that was a heavy breather and a heavy foot striker. Oh brother, that was annoying. She was kinda running right with me to. This was going to be a long race if she stayed with me. Mile 1 - 7:41. Hmmm, that wasn't so bad. I felt fine and 19 seconds in the bank.
The heavy breathing/footstriking woman had managed to pull away from me, I think she had surged on me. I was fine with that. I thought, I will just get her later. I had felt like she was pacing off me and making this into a 2-person race in the first few miles. I was relieved she was gone. Mile 2 there was still some jockeying for position as those who started off a bit too fast realized they needed to slow and settle into a more doable pace and those who were already doing the correct pace began overtaking them. I was thankfully an overtaker. Mile 2 - 7:41 with 38 seconds in the bank. I was holding steady and felt great. All my early morning ailments were cured. There was of course that little voice in my head that told me to stay right in this little zone as not to push too soon...and 7 to go.
Now, this course definitely has some rolling hills, but nothing devastating like Devil's Hill at Mountaineer, so I can only use the excuse that I hit one here. Mile 3 - 8:04. I am not that inconsistent on my pacing (unless it is a 5k..haha). I did at this point also catch the heavy breathing/footstriking lady and pass her quite easily during this mile too, so there had to be a hill :)
I remember thinking "nearly 40 seconds up and you just washed 50% of it that away in 1 mile jackass!" I swore to reassert myself and settled back in to staying focused and holding good form while keeping my foot turnover going. I often feel as a race goes on I get lacks and increase my stride length and decrease my frequency, which contributes to why my hip flexors tighten up so easily on long runs (Cause I am a wimp and can't hold form...duh!!!) There was a guy running right with me here. He was not a heavy breather or any of that and he was pacing right on. I was stoked I just ran right off him. It was like a mini-running vacation. Mile 4 - 7:41 I had made my time back and was on pace.
My pacer falter though in the next mile and I had to leave him behind. I could only focus on 4 runners ahead of me. I was slowly passing 1 at a time, but the funny thing was when I would pass one I would see a new one up ahead. This was by far the mile with the most hills and when I passed the 4.8 mile water stop I took my gel. The 5th mile ends with a right turn that goes up one more steep (which I think is the steepest of the hills on this course) hill. Mile 5 - 8:05. Geez, Heier what the hell are you doing? It seemed like the effort I was giving was still as intense as the 7:41, so was I tiring already?
I crested the hill and was still fortunate enough to have a few rabbits in front of me. I passed 2 guys and was working on a 3rd, who was not a heavy footstriker, but a strange breather. He had this strange double exhalation noise and when I passed him he proceeded to pick up the pace and pass me right back. Okay, fine go ahead of me. He pulled a few feet ahead and then as if he knew he was not supposed to be running like that he just backed off and I flew by him. It was strange. I turned onto Limeridge Road, which is normally the most dreadful part of the course as it is in the open, there is no shade and with the sun beating down, yep you guessed it...nice and freakin' HOT, but not today. It was overcast and cool. It was just perfect for the long stretch of road that lay ahead. I was ready. It was almost time to really start racing. I caught a girl right at mile 6 and told her great job. She told me thanks, but this was a most boring part for her. I shook my head and said "nah, this is the fast part where you lay it on and take off!" Mile 6 - 7:54, it was time to go.
I didn't realize it at the time, but apparently I had finally flipped the "ON" switch for my body. I felt better than ever at this point and laid it down. I saw my friend PN up ahead and thought, he must have died or been hurting becase I hadn't seen him all race. I focused on catching him. Mile 7 - 7:21. I am not sure where that came from, but there was no going back now. I pushed on and then my damn shoe came untied and I had knotted the mother 3 times!! I stopped to fix the problem about 200 meters into mile 8. I also stopped my watch for some strange reason. It took me all of 7 seconds as that was the difference on my watch vs. my official time. I knew I had to haul ass if I wanted to break 1:10:00. I saw a woman up ahead that I was quickly gaining on and right at the 8 mile marker I passed her. I told her to keep going and she said she didn't want to. She was having a bad race and planned to drop and she should be at least a minute/mile faster. Now, this just pissed me off. WTF was wrong with her. I hate people that give up. I don't think I ever have had a "perfect" race day, but I finished every race I ever started. She wasn't injured she was being a baby!! Running is a gift. It is a privilege. There are people that can't get out of a wheelchair to stand, let alone run and this frickin' woman was bailing cause she was having a bad day. Like I said, I was pissed. Mile 8 - 7:21 (7:28 with the shoe incident). I was all lit up at this point. She told me to go get 'em and even though she wished me well I was still mad about it. I began talking aloud to myself here and there at this point. I told myself I can do anything for less than 8:00. "C'mon Heier, don't be a f*ckin' pussy run. This is not a training run. Today is a race, run hard, c'mon harder." I knew I had run hard for the last 2 miles and thought I was too spent to finish hard. I was going to have some 8:0X for 9 miles. I was gaining on PN and I yelled at him to "GO!" He heard me and gave me a wave. Hold on I told myself keep going, you can catch him. I came up on SG who was coming back for a cooldown and waved to him. He said he was going to run with me, but then changed his mind and said I was running too fast and that wasn't going to happen. I was elated. It was the best compliment of the day. I just kept pumpin' away! I saw Danner up ahead and he was yelling my name and cheering for me. I knew the finsih was getting closer. Whoo hooo!!! I crested the last little hill and there was the crowd, but I was starting to die. I was on count down to blow-up. I ran for what seemed like forever and finally hit the finsih feeling completely spent. Mile 9 - 7:07. Where that had come from I have no idea!! I was pumped I had really hammered the last 3 miles, but at the same time I realized I should have run a lot harder for the race and if I had just run 8 frickin' seconds faster I would have had my last mile as sub-7:00..DOH!!!!
I ended up winning a $25 gift card from Applebee's, a hand towel and a plate. The big winner though was Jules, who took home a GSX-R 50!! No joke, she won herself a mini-motorcycle!! The day had turned out to be not so bad afterall.