When I woke up yesterday morning, I definitely had mixed emotions about the race. I wanted to race, but my last run was a disaster with my legs aching. The weather was supposed to be cooler, but there was also a chance of torrential rains. I was curious to see what I could do, but I knew that would involve pain. So when I woke up at 4:00 AM, 1.5 hours before the alarm went off, I just lay in bed wondering.
Christine and I finally got up and got ready. Breakfast: frozen waffle and coffee. Weather prediction: sucked. All my gear: God I hope so. And we headed out. As we arrived at the Middendorf Restaurant, I noticed something disturbing that I did not read on the brochure. It was made of concrete, rose into the heavens and was located 50yards from the starting line. Here is a hint:
Not exactly what I was expecting. This wonderful bridge was crossed at the start and at the finish. The start I wasn’t too worried about. The finish….well that is a different story. Anyway, we checked in, used the bathroom and I did a little warm up run. And I could feel a little ache in my legs. There was not a lot I could do about it, so I tried to ignore it. They started the race-walkers who were doing the 10 miler about 15 minutes early, and then the rest of us (5K & 10 milers) lined up. And we were off.
And I was immediately stuck behind a big guy who was walking. I made a few cuts and found some breathing room as I stormed up the bridge. It definitely did not take long to get my heart rate up! I cruised down the back side of the bridge and shortly after wards hit the 1 mile mark. That was a long bridge. I struggled a bit with finding the pace I wanted. I couldn’t go easy, but I didn’t want to push too hard. I eventually settled in with another man who was going a similar pace. This would prove to be my potential downfall.
As we cruised through the 1.5 mile aid station, I grabbed some Gatorade and ended up pouring most of it all over me. The cup was full and I had forgotten how to race and drink! During my 50 mile run, I would stop and chat with folks at the aid stations! No stopping and chatting this time. I pressed on staying with my “pacer” and my splits were pretty good. My goal was a sub 7:30 pace, and I was right on track with that. The two mile mark came and went and I was soon approaching the 3 mile mark and the next aid station.
When I reached it, the man I was running with stopped and walked while he drank. Hmmmm. That looks like a good idea. So I did too. And I immediately regretted it. I got back up to pace quickly, but every negative thought I could come up with entered my mind. My right shoe was tied too tight, so it started hurting. My left leg started aching a bit. I was pushing hard, but I couldn’t name a reason why. What was the point after all? And then I realized my pace was starting to fade and a few more people were passing me.
When I hit the 4 mile mark, I passed the man I was with. Something inside of my head decided I was there to run. So I ran. I hit the turn around and started taking people out. I had picked up the pace a bit, but I think more people were starting to fade. Just before the 6 mile mark, I saw Christine with a big smile on her face! Shortly afterwards, the lyrics to the song playing in my head became clear in my mind:
I don’t want to spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything
Instead of going through the motions
After that I realized, that I had to give it my all. So I decided to push on………and then a 10 to 12 year old boy passed me. Now I could have easily gotten demoralized by this, but I was uplifted. Because that was me! When I was younger I ran a lot of the long road races, and I passed a lot of “men” who thought they should beat me. So I just cheered him on. (He beat me by about a minute and I found him after the race to tell him how well he did. He was all full of energy like he had just woken up on Christmas morning instead of having run 10 miles.)
I continued to watch him all the way to the finish line as we both slowly but surely picked people off. As I rounded the last curve at about 8.75 miles, I saw the bridge. And it seemed like it took an eternity to get there. When I finally hit the base of the bridge, I charged up. And I charged up. And I charged up. And then with about 75 yards to the top, a mack truck hit me. My heart rate was about 3 bpm over my max, and I could barely move. So I started walking. I walked about 15 yards and forced myself back to running.
I finally crested the top and started the downhill. I didn’t sprint. I just let gravity take me and I eventually made it. My finish time was 1:14:31 or a 7:27 pace. I turned in my finishing information, grabbed a banana and some water and went to the truck to get the camera. Then it was off to get a beer and wait for Christine. She came roaring down the hill a few minutes before I expected her with a great run! And then it was off for more beer and some catfish!
So what did I learn from this race? I learned how to drink while running again. I learned how to focus on the run and ignore the pain (somewhat). And I also learned that my training is pretty close to what it should be. I will know more in a few weeks when I race the half marathon.