A story of going from being a non-runner to planning for a marathon in three years...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Run for the Health of It 10K

This morning I ran the Christie Clinic Run for the Health of It 10K race. This was my first 10K race. I've certainly run that distance before during my long weekend runs, but I had no idea how I'd do actually racing it.

The weather was horrible today. High 30s (Fahrenheit), windy, and doing that thing where it's sort of raining and sort of snowing at the same time. I don't own a wind breaker or a rain jacket of any kind so I was resigned to getting rather wet.

I did not really prepare everything ahead like I usually do. This meant that I was rushing out the door at 7:40 AM. I didn't realize until I got to the race that I had forgotten to put on my watch. I was a little ticked at myself but quickly got over it. I was actually more ticked that I hadn't thought to bring gloves. My hands were freezing! I'm glad I only got to the race starting point about 15 minutes before the race actually started. I don't think I could have stood outside for much longer than that. They did, however, have a tent set up with those standing patio heaters in it. I was tempted to hide in there but I knew I needed to walk around to get my leg muscles warmed up.

When it came time to head for the starting line, I took my place near the back of the pack. Behind most of the 10K runners but in front of the 5K runners. None of the races in my area are large enough to use corrals or even chip timing. Today made me yearn for a chip-timed race but I'll get to that later.

Someone sang the national anthem and there was a short speech about the charity all the proceeds were going to support (at least, I think that's what the speech was about. I couldn't actually hear whoever was speaking). The women standing next to me were chanting "Warm Shower, Cold Beer" and hopping up and down trying to get warm. A couple on the other side of me was huddle hugging each other back to front and joking that they were going to run like that. To be perfectly honest, I think today might have even felt colder than the 5K race I ran on the 150F day. I blame it on the wind and the rain/snow. At least the sub-freezing race was on a clear, sunny day.

The horn blew at 8:15ish and off we went. I really began to regret my lack of watch when we passed the first mile marker and there was no clock and no one telling us our times. Consequently, I have no idea what my splits were like. All I know is that the first mile was hard. I was cold, my hands felt like blocks of ice, and I was having difficulty finding a pace. The second mile was also difficult but I could tell it was getting easier. At least the second mile took us through a residential area of town that I'd never been to and that had interesting houses to look at. About mile three I starting getting a horrible pain in my left collarbone. I knew that I was too tense. When I'm cold I tend to hunch my shoulders up around my ears. I spent most of this mile reminding myself to relax my shoulders. Thankfully my hands had warmed up so I didn't have to fight that, too. Miles four and five were surprisingly easy. They felt really, really good. I passed quite a few people during those miles. The last mile was a little bit harder. I was getting tired and the mile was on a straight, flat road so I could see all the way to the turn to the finish. Normally I like that, but this time I was wet and cold and just wanted to be done. I felt like the stop light just before the final turn was taunting me.

Finally, I made it to the turn to the finish. As I turned the corner I looked up at the clock and saw that it said 59:35. Less than a hour! I full on sprinted to the finish and I believe that the clock said 59:55 as I went into the chute. This is where I really wished that the race had been chip timed. I know that if the race had been chip timed I would easily have a 59:something finish time. But now I have to hope that the person doing the recording at the finish got my time written down correctly. I'll have to wait until I get the official results in the mail (they mail you your results on a pre-addressed postcard) but right now I'm thinking that I ran my first 10K in under an hour! I did not go into this race with a time goal in mind. But when I turned that corner and saw that the clock hadn't broken the one hour mark yet? My goal became to finish in under an hour.

This race is super-flat (of course, I live in central Illinois. We are not known for our hills.) and sticks almost entirely to residential areas. The race coordinators did an excellent job of putting mile markers at each and every mile. The course was clearly marked and there were tons of volunteers giving encouragement and making sure we stayed on the correct streets. There were at least two water stations but I skipped both of them. I don't drink while I'm doing my regular training runs and I didn't feel particularly thirsty during the race what with the cold and the wet weather. The finish chutes were nicely placed and they were kind enough to have a volunteer reminding everyone which chute to head for. Post-race there were a ton of bagels and Gatorade and water. In the same tent where they had placed the space heaters there was a (good!) local 80s cover band playing music. The local Coach's Cooking Team was scheduled to start barbecuing around 10:30. And I'm sure there was going to be an awards ceremony of some kind but, seeing as how I was wet, cold, tired and craving a hot shower I decided to head home.

Sadly, there are no pictures of me actually running the race. But, my husband did get one of me after the finish. Smile on my face, wind in my bandanna, and post-race cinnamon crunch bagel in my hand.