I ran my first race yesterday! The Butte to Butte. It is a 10K, (or 6.2 miles to the rest of the world. Runners are so oxygen deprived they still measure by Ks) It’s a tough course-the first mile is straight uphill, the 2nd mile downhill and the last 4.2 miles, winding through our town. I ran it a few days before, with a friend, just to make sure we could do it. I actually had a better time then, because my friend ran the WHOLE thing, and I was too proud to admit by walk breaks that I was dying. (I just prayed for stoplights at the intersections!) But we ran it in 1 hour, 18 min (or so, I hit the stop button late) and so I bravely went ahead and registered for the race. Here’s how it went down:
Friday? I am so nervous I can hardly eat. I would rather be going in for a root canal or an IRS hearing than to go through with this race. John thinks this is hilarious. I try to drink lots of water and take melatonin to get to sleep.
Independence Day. I’m up before the 6 AM alarm. Grease everything that might even consider chafing, put on awful-looking-but-still-$45-Nike-spandex shorts and my Team in Training T-shirt, and have the Runners Breakfast: 2 cups of coffee, 2 Advil. Running on a full stomach makes me queasy.
As I drive 35 min downtown, I am praying hard for strength and repeating to myself my 2009 Motto: FEEL THE FEAR. DO IT ANYWAY. I decide that as long as I am not the very last one to cross, and I cross it running-not walking-then it will be a successful first race.
I take the shuttle to the starting line. Find the purple balloons that show where my fellow TNT teammates are. Stand there, looking at all the serious runners and wondering when the “Athlete Police” will catch the fraud of Me, pretending to be a Runner. When they look me up and down, pull me aside and firmly suggest I take up a sport I am more suited to, say, Scrabble? I will go into custody without a fight and peacefully hang up my Asics.
I am a slow runner, 11 minute/mile pace on a good day but the pace lines end at 10 min/miles so I stand back beyond the last sign and wait for the gun.
Can anything good start with gunfire?
It is so far up ahead we don’t hear it, but the roar of enthusiasm rolls back to our end and we start. Almost 6,000 people jammed into one urban street can’t run, they can only shuffle. I like that, and could happily have continued like that, but soon the crowds thins. Shucks.
Now, the infamous hill that Runners World magazine called “quad-busting”
Can anything good come of busting your quads?
Yet, I am feeling strong. That relief of finally doing something you’ve been dreading and knowing that, at the very least, soon you won’t have to worry about it anymore. I am also relieved to be among a lot of muscled, fit company who are also walking the last 30 feet to the top. It’s reassuring. Check my watch at the 1 mile mark-19 min. Not bad for Everest!
Love the 2nd mile, after the climb it feels like flying and it is, for me-13 min despite the braking action needed to keep gravity from throwing me face first into asphalt.
3rd mile, it’s 8:30, and the Walkers have started. All the fast runners are long gone, and my punishment for being a plodder is to share the road with hundreds of walkers. I have some understanding because 4x now, I have been the walker that the runners grunted and passed. I finally get just why they were all so annoyed. Friends are walking 4-5 abreast, blocking the road and chatting, enjoying their leisurely pace. They are pushing strollers of giggling toddlers and holding dogs on leashes and I am two miles into pain…sweaty, grim-faced, and still facing four plus miles. They are fresh and smiling, not noticing me, desperately dashing in and out! I am up on the sidewalk, then down on the street, using up precious energy by zig-zagging back and forth, trying to get through.
4th mile: It is starting to thin out a bit, and I am enjoying the mental process of picking a “target” and then passing him/her. I later found out it is called “Roadkill” to do that, and some runners keep a mental tally of how many people they pass. This can’t happen on my rural road, and I find it is totally worth the $15 fee and the race day anxiety, to have this kind of fun. It won’t surprise my brother to hear of this competitive streak. It might surprise him to hear that I am now polite. I say a pleasant “excuse me” as I pass, and I don’t whoop “Ha! I’ve been trailing your ugly orange shorts for 3 blocks and nanny-nanny-boo-boo, I’m da boss now, Turniphead!” Even if I think it very, very loudly. I am too dry-mouthed and panting to shout, anyway.
5th mile. so thirsty. They place the water stations near the walkers. Seriously? Half of them are underage and carrying juice boxes! No bathrooms either and that coffee has hit the end of the road, but I have to hold it. I start feeling very dizzy and nauseous. I slow to a fast walk and try to shake it off. It’s no use, every time I start jogging again I feel so light-headed that I have to put my arms out and shake them to keep from blacking out. Perhaps I should have eaten something real, because it feels just like hypoglycemia (next time I will bring Clif shots) Or it could be low blood pressure, with all the blood going to my lower body and none to power the old noggin. I become terrified of passing out and being in the paper the next day under the caption “Housewife Paralyzed When She Tried To Run and Instead, Hit Curb with Her Skull”
6th mile. Longest one yet, like this blog post, it just went on and on and on. I kept thinking I was almost there, yet like a mirage, it wouldn’t appear. What did I say when I was driving here, 3 days ago? Oh yeah-not the last one across (I look back. Yes, there are a few, still) and I had to be running when I crossed the Finish. I pray to God and talk to myself (those two things always help dire situations) What I said to Him, He knows. What I said to me? “Almost over! Almost over! Run as slow as you need to but no walking the last few blocks!”
.2 mile. I am trying not to cry or blackout. They mispronounce my last name as I cross the line-it’s 5 letters, one syllable, announcer-dude:how hard is that? Looking for John and the boys as I cross, but I am too tired to raise my hands up in victory as I had planned in my imagination. I don’t care, at that moment, that I did it. I am just glad to be done. The aid station has half a banana and water and the woozy feeling passes, so I know it is most likely my old nemesis, hypoglycemia, come to visit. Next run, I will be prepared.
Walk around, looking for John. He stood faithfully for an hour at the Finish Line but never saw me in the crowds crossing, and short-little-me couldn’t him! Next race we will plan better. I had to walk a mile to my car but it was a good cool down, and probably helped my muscles not tighten up terribly.
I finished in 1 hour, 24 minutes, 55 seconds (no. we never round up.) for a pace of 13:30 min/miles, one of my slowest runs and close to what I have walked briskly, in the past. It is a weird feeling to be both disappointed in my finish time, yet also amazed and grateful to have finished it at all. I know that I am still carrying 30 extra lbs across each mile, and believe still if I can do it at ALL, now? Then time and training will make every race easier, and better.
It’s all in your attitude. I didn’t place 2,439th out of 2,552 runners.
I out-ran 118 Turnipheads.