Today was the PERFECT day for a race. The weather was cool, a mere 63 degrees, and for once I didn’t feel like I wanted to die due to the heat. But let’s back up a little. I woke up around 3:30 in the morning and tossed and turned for the next 2 hours before my alarm clock went off. From the moment my feet hit the floor this morning, I was a bundle of nerves. I couldn’t eat more than half a Cliff bar, but forced myself to drink a Gatorade pre-fuel. I hoped it would be enough.
We got to the race just before 7:00 for an 8:00 start. I know it was early, but I like to make several trips to the porta-potty before a race. After you’ve had three kids you need a COMPLETELY EMPTY bladder (trust me).
Did I mention I was nervous? I had a goal in mind of finishing in under one hour. 59:59 or bust remember? That meant I had to maintain a 9:40 pace and I honestly didn’t know if I had it in me.
One thing that helps me accomplish my goals is visualizing myself completing the task. When I tried to visualize myself running a 9:40 pace for 6.2 miles I pictured myself tired, out of breath, with a side stich and unable to maintain the pace. I tried to push all my negative thoughts to the back of my mind, but deep down inside I REALLY didn’t think I had it in me. I had myself all set to accept a 1:02 finish, but I was still going to try.
Bianca and I decided to do a little warm up before the race began and we went out at a slow pace for about 3/4 of a mile. During that time I told her that I’d probably tell her I wanted to die and that I wanted to quit. I told her that when women go into labor and are planning a natural childbirth often times they develop a code word if the pain is really no longer tolerable and they are really asking for an epidural. Because we can all say we want to quit in times of agony and distress, but do we really MEAN it. So I came up with the code word blueberry. If blueberry was mentioned then I had given up on my goal of finishing in less than an hour.
Despite there being over 3000 runners, there were no corals or projected finishing times to line up the runners. It was a free for all. We lined up somewhere around the middle of the pack. I took some deep breaths, tried to relax and awaited the “gun”.
Soon we were off and I realized the decision to line up in the middle was a HUGE mistake. Why do people line up so far toward the front if they’re not fast runners? I will never understand! We spent a lot of time going a lot slower than we would have liked and did a lot of weaving in and out for the first mile or so. It was really messing with my mental state as I wanted to find my groove and stick with it. That proved impossible in the sea of people and our pace was all over the place.
By the second mile the crowd had thinned considerably and we hit a nice groove. Bianca was the “timekeeper” (she was taking it easy, resting her shins and helping me pace to a sub 1 hour 10k) and it was my job to run, breath, hydrate when necessary and nothing else. I tried not to look at my pace too often and let my body be my guide. At this time we had a lot of room to back off the pace a bit and still meet my goal.
The funny thing is, I didn’t feel like I needed to back off. Before I knew it we had hit the 3 mile mark and I was feeling so good. The Uptown Classic hosts a 5K and 10K event so at about this point we were being directed to stay left and the 5K finishers were to go right. I joked that I wish we had signed up for the 5K, but in all honestly I wasn’t ready to quit. Just as we hit the 5K mark I realized I had just PRd. I ran my best 5K (29:03) ever DURING a 10K. I don’t know if it “officially” counts as a PR, but it does tell me if I went out and did a 5K today I’d crush my previous record. So even if this doesn’t count (to who I don’t know) then I’ll get my PR next time for sure.
Mile 4 flew by so quickly. I just remember thinking that I was really going to do it and I couldn’t believe how easy it had been. I really thought I’d be out of breath struggling, but I was comfortable pretty much the whole time. I just kept holding back because I was so afraid my “speed” as short lived.
Mile 4 and 5 did bring on some hills, however, and hills do kick my booty. Even so, with every uphill there was a downhill and it was so nice to “relax” on the way back down. Bianca said at mile 5 we could pick up the pace if I was still feeling good. I was, and we did. Not considerably, but enough to feel strong.
Finally we hit the 6 mile mark and I just couldn’t believe there was just .2 miles to go. We picked up the pace and headed down the finishing shoot. I grabbed Bianca’s hand as we crossed the finish line in victory. There was no being out of breath, there was no side stitch and there certainly weren’t any blueberries! I had done it crossing the finish line in 58:05 (official time).
Here are my Garmin stats:
Bianca and I had decided during the race that we would turn back and look for Julie when we were finished and hopefully help her to finish strong. She too is nursing shin problems and I worried she was going to be in pain by the end.
Nope! We found Julie in good condition physically and mentally. We still jumped in with her the last .2 miles all smiles glad to cross the finish line with our friend.
I think you can see on our faces just how happy WE ALL were. Like I said, this was a PERFECT day for a race.
Special thanks to my normal photographer and support crew-- Team George, Nicholas, Ella and Jack. I love you all and your love and support mean so much to me.
Also a VERY special thank you to Bianca. Once again you were by my side encouraging and believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. I couldn’t have done it (and definitely not as fast) without you!