I left the house with my drink and my Luna Bar. I immediately second guessed my wardrobe choice. I was wearing a short-sleeved top, arm warmers and a running skirt*. I debated going back for my gloves and changing into tights, but thought that it might warm up when the sun rose higher. I was right and after a being pretty chilly before the race, I was perfectly dressed after all. I jogged down to the starting area to warm up.
I was meeting my friends, who had my bib and chip. They were registered for the 10K and I was registered for the 5K. Unfortunately, by the time I was committed to register, the 10K was sold out. This was their first 10K and Kelly was hoping to run it under an hour. I decided that I would help her do just that**.
We started out weaving through the crowds. Kelly was understandably anxious to move around the other runners, but I warned her not to add too much distance by zigging and zagging and not to start out too fast. We would zip into an open spot, get into a groove and then come up on slower runners. There were several walkers (and they surely didn't look like they were just stopping for a rest). My question is: when there are two 5K races and a 10K race, why would you choose to walk in the 10K? And why would you stay right in the middle?
The road got pretty narrow for a bit and it was pretty crowded. We were running along the ocean (I really wished I had brought my camera!) and turned directly into the sun. It was very difficult to see. At one point I was just trying to focus on not running into the woman in front of me. Suddenly... BAM... I ran into, and tripped over an orange cone. OUCH. It actually broke the skin on my shin. I was lucky I didn't completely fall down and/or take out the previously mentioned woman in front of me. It stung for a while, but it was just a flesh wound. My shin is actually pretty bruised and sore right now. That was some cone.
I kept a good eye on my Garmin and tried to keep Kelly from going too quickly. We had a nice pace and she was actually able to chat at times. It was hard keeping the pace consistent, however. The course narrowed and widened and the crowds never really cleared. I was keeping the commentary going, pointing out various things along the way (such as a bikini clad woman on a paddle board in the waterway).. I know how it can be in your first big race, not paying attention to anything else but running. It was absolutely gorgeous down there. We ran by the ocean and through the harbor and marina. I had a huge grin on my face. We both commented on how much fun it was. Kelly mentioned that she felt spoiled having her own personal pacer.
I checked in with her from time to time, making sure she was feeling ok. For most of the race, she felt like she wanted to go a bit faster. She was worried that she wouldn't finish under an hour. I told her I would do whatever I could to get her there on time. We picked it up just before the last mile. I said to her, "you can do anything for nine minutes! Push through to the end!" In the final stretch, I could see the mile 6 sign and knew we would be making the one hour goal. She said, "this isn't fun anymore." "Yes it is," I came back with, "you are almost there!" She asked me if we would make it under an hour. I replied, "only if we hurry." "Are you lying to me?"she asked. I just smiled. We sprinted in with a time of 59:20!!!***
I think she left it all out there. She could barely celebrate at the end. She was tired and thirsty (we ran right through the water stops). I was so proud of her! The good news is that when I saw her less than an hour later after my 5K, she looked great and was completely energized.
My official race was starting shortly after we finished. I handed Kelly my sweaty arm warmers (ah, true friends) and went to the start area. I wasn't sure how I would do in a 5K. It really isn't my distance and I have only run two 5K's in the past. I couldn't even remember what my PR was. I knew I wanted to run something in the 24's, but after a decent 10K and a crowded field, I wasn't sure how I good a pace I could keep up.. As the gun went off and we started moving, my phone, that had stayed snugly in the pocket of my running skirt during the past 6+ miles, fell out. A runner handed it to me. A hundred yards past the start, it did it again. Grrrrr.... Forgetting about the option of sticking it in my bra, I decided to hold it. I also came to terms with the fact that I probably wouldn't PR (stopping and going back to get a fallen phone is not conducive to a good time).
That first mile felt even more crowded than the first race. I think because I started about halfway back, I was with a lot of walkers and strollers. I felt like I was passing people like crazy and doing quite a bit of weaving. My number one goal for the race was to run it under 8-minute miles****. Unfortunately, the first mile was quite a bit over that (8:20) due to the crowd (and the few seconds of phone retrieval). I was able to pick up the pace in the second mile. By the last mile, I was hurting. Right around the spot where Kelly announced that she wasn't having fun anymore, I felt exactly the same thing. I stopped marveling at the scenery and wanted to finish it. I pushed as hard as I could.
I finished and stopped my Garmin, which said 25:15 (I think my time was a few seconds faster than this). I was a little bummed. I really wanted to finish under 25 minutes. I had it in my head that my PR was 24 and change. When I got home and looked it up, I discovered that my PR from last Thanksgiving was 25:33. I PR'd after a 10K warmup!!!!! Where I was ok with my performance immediately after the race because I knew I ran strong, I am delighted now, knowing that I PR'd while running my seventh, eighth and ninth miles!! After checking out the results***** I am excited to say that I broke the top ten for my age group!!
After meeting back up with my friends, I jogged back to my inlaws' to spend the rest of the day with my family. Ten quality miles in before breakfast, you can't beat that! You know, living in Southern California doesn't suck. I ran a gorgeous sunny course along the ocean and marina and then took my kids swimming. It was over 80 degrees by the afternoon.
*it happens to be the same outfit I wore at the Carlsbad Half Marathon where I had my best race ever.
**Please note that I am not really in favor of running as a "bandit." However, I was perfectly willing to pay my fee and help the cause; they just wouldn't let me. I knew I wouldn't get an official time, so helping my friend would be a fun way to get a longer run in.
***10K splits (per the Garmin):
.34 (we weaved a lot and didn't do great at the tangents)- 2.47 (8:13 pace)
****5K splits (per the Garmin)
.18 (I was a bit better with the tangents, but still had quite a bit of weaving)- 1:19 (7:12 pace)
gun time- 26:12
overall- 265 out of 2560
female- 45 out of 2560
female 40-44- 10 out of 180