In theory I have now completed all my races for the year. I say “in theory” because we all know that I am competitive as hell and am likely to find myself challenged by someone to take part in some unplanned race. Currently, I am done for the year. So here are the “reports” from the final two.
I was so excited for this race that I can’t even describe it. It was the very first time the organizers of the Riding Mountain Triathlon were organizing a half marathon/10k run and I couldn’t wait to take part. What could be better than taking part in the inaugural event happening in my favorite place on earth!?! Originally, I had planned to take part in the half marathon with the goal of a personal best, but for the first time ever, realizing that I was seriously under-trained and far too exhausted from starting back to work doing this teaching thing, I made the smart/right choice and registered for the 10k.
Race morning was brutal. It was misty/rainy and cold- an all around “yucky” day but that’s good, right? I hate running when I am too hot and a cool day means that overheating isn’t a problem! It just means I have to run faster to stay warm.
As the race started I found myself happily giggling and pacing myself towards the front of the pack. The race was “headphone free” so I was stuck listening to the sounds of my own suffering and I tried to distract myself by looking at all the fall colors dancing around the town-site and through the campground. It worked wonders until I hit the first bigger hill at which point the admiration of oranges and golden browns was replaced by subtle cursing under my breath about how much this Prairie Girl hates hills.
I worried about maintaining my pace without music to distract me so I found someone who was running at the pace I wanted to go, positioned myself behind her and just kept muttering “don’t lose sight…don’t lose sight…don’t lose…crap… oh, there she is… don’t lose sight.” Eventually this stopped being effective and I needed some other form of distraction from my labored breath, cold toes and intense desire to hop down one of the side streets and just head back to the comfort of the cabin. So I started counting to ten. First from one and then in reverse…one to ten, ten to one. Repeat. We approached the spot where I believed us to be heading down to the lakefront but there was no indication that the course dropped down. There was no sign and no human there either. A water table was ahead with volunteers so I did as the other runners did and aimed for that. Grabbed my water, followed the runners and kept on trucking…I mean running.
Something seemed off. I had studied the map. I knew where we were supposed to turn but why had there been no sign or volunteer? In my gut I knew some thing wasn’t right but instead of being smart and trusting that intuition I started to wonder if there had been a course change due to weather, or maybe I had misread the map? And then it all became clear. A group of panicked runners turned around and started yelling “We are on the wrong path!! This is the half marathon’s path!!”
Around we turn, head back, all of us muttering and grumbling. Nearly 20 runners head back to the water table unhappily telling the volunteers that we could have been directed properly. Suddenly some girl jumps out of the van where she had clearly been keeping warm and directs us frantically while yelling “there’s a sign at the bottom of the hill!!” OH GOOD!! The sign is at the BOTTOM of the hill…where it’s not visible. Well, that’s helpful. At this point, I am cold. I am grumpy. I am on the lakefront path being blown backwards by the strong wind that is cutting through my gear and I am seriously contemplating just heading up the stairs that lead towards the cottage and the warm fireplace within. But, my aunts are both standing out in the cold, waiting for me to run by. I’m now way behind my planned schedule for the race but there’s not much to be done but finish it. I change my mental game from setting a 10k PB to just finishing. I sulk to myself about the loss of my awesome place in the race, keep running and smile for the camera as I go past my aunt.
At the finish line, my very cold husband and shivering dogs are wondering why the heck I’ve taken so long. I run hard to the finish, get my medal and then sigh in frustration.
I’ve gone a very cold extra 2km.
I was poised to win my age category and instead, finish 4th. I find it somewhat amusing in the end. Plus, it was one of the prettiest medals ever.
I MADE IT THIS YEAR!!! YESSSSSSSSSS!!!
Win #1 was the fact that I made it to the start line. No hospitalization for me this year. **place happy dance here** Honestly, the memories from last year caused me so much anxiety through the week leading up to the race that I could barely breathe. I actually ended up being prescribed an inhaler because it was so bad. I actually was wondering if I’d even be able to run courtesy of the breathing difficulties but come race morning, I’m up and bouncing out of bed and happily headed to the bag check.
The nerves, however, didn’t stop and I think I must have used the bathroom about 6 times when I got to the race site, including a frantic last second port-a-potty trip with just a few minutes before the start of the race. Stupid nervous bladder combined with a little extra coffee and hydration.
Time to go!!!!
The gun fires and we are off. One foot in front of the other. I’d lost my friends when I’d stopped at the port-a-potty so I was on my own. I kept an eye out for them as I danced and dodged my way through the throng of runners. I waved to my friend Jeff as I ran by and happily continued sneaking through those in my way. The Gazelle was in sight so I ran past her – but not without a smack on the ass as I passed. I had a good pace going and I had set my watch to yell at me if I went out too fast at the start or got too lazy and slow. I given that my watch was tucked away under my gloves, I really had no idea what my pace was but I was passing people, so I was happy. As I discovered in a previous post- it really is about ego. My ego just happens to be fed by leaving people in my dust.
Sometimes it’s important to remember why we run and more than once throughout the year, when things have been difficult I have reminded myself that I run because I can. In this race it was true more than ever. I was running because I could. I was so happy to be at the event. For a year I had both anticipated and dreaded this race and for days leading up to the event, flashbacks and memories of hospital stays, the inability to walk, the emotional drain of being often confused and anxious flooded back. Every moment contained a slight fear that this illness would return and it haunted me nonstop. But, here I was. I was running strong and I was running happy. There was a special joy in the event and 8km passed before I knew it. At about 8.1km I realized that I was tired and the fight began over pushing forward or taking a little walk break. My watch buzzed my slowing pace.
In the distance, I could see a runner who resembled the Gazelle’s husband. He and I run a similar pace and he had a lofty 48 minute goal for the race. Could it be that I wasn’t that far behind??? My excitement level increased and I started to pick up my pace again. It turned out it wasn’t the runner I thought it was but that belief gave me an extra push to run to the finish with a smile on my face. Even when my leg got caught in the rope of the start line inflatable which had fallen on to the course and I lost a few seconds shaking it off and cursing slightly (or colorfully, depending on who you ask), I was still ready to cross that finish line with the same gleeful passion I had started with.
I finished this race in the top 8% of the 1030 men and women who ran the 10k and knocked 2 minutes off my time. There was a small flood of emotion crossing the finish line. It was an accomplishment but better yet it was redemption. As one of my co-runners on a Facebook forum said: I kicked life in the face.
On a side note – that was a hell of a fast course. With a pace of 5:04/km I was still 6th in my age category according to chip time. Who are these women who can run a 10k in under 44 minutes??? My short little bulldog legs just don’t move that fast! They must be freaks. The Gazelle tried to convince me that I qualified as one of the freaks but I don’t think I’ve earned that title yet. Maybe next year.