Last year I ran this race wearing tights, a fleece, gloves, and wishing I'd brought my fleece headband to keep my ears warm. This year I ran in shorts and a short-sleeved t-shirt. What a difference a year makes.
What a difference a year makes in a lot of other ways, too.
I brought my mini Clif bar and my chocolate milk to packet pick-up the morning of the race. I'm still trying to figure out the perfect time to eat before running, but during most of my weekend training runs I eat about 30-45 minutes before I head out the door. I've found recently that the mini Clif bar and chocolate milk combo seems to work well. But, since we were supposed to pick up our packets and race numbers by 8:15 AM and the race didn't start until 9:00 AM, I waited to eat until after we'd arrived at the race venue.
I stood around in the sun while the race organizers had a choir sing some patriotic songs, someone from Veterans' Affairs spoke, and the flag was raised to the sound of taps. Although it was much warmer than last year, I was still a little chilly.
I hit up the portapotties, ate my breakfast, and then wandered over to the start line. I realized with about 30 seconds to go before gun-time that I had to pee again. Oh well!
And then we were off.
I'd started further up than usual hoping that would decrease the dodging. It didn't. I still struggled to find an nice, clear spot where I wasn't constantly on people's heels. The urge to pass anyone and everyone was strong. "Run your own race," I repeated over and over again. It will clear out. Don't wear yourself out.
Shortly before the first mile we turned onto the bike path where I do a lot of my long runs. I love that this race covers a section of course I know like the back of my hand. I know all the landmarks and can easily gauge my progress. Yet, when we hit the first mile and my Garmin beeped I was a little shocked.
8 minutes and 55 seconds.
See, my goals for this race were just to come in under an hour. Heck, 59:58 would have a PR. Before I left for the race I'd done a quick race pace calculation and determined I'd aim for 9:20 per mile. I didn't want to burn out, so after my shock at mile one I decided to pull back a bit.
Mile 2? 8:57.
Okay, now I'm starting to freak out. Can I hold this pace? I took a quick assessment. The twinge in my right arch when we started? Gone. The weird shin pain I somtimes get if I go out too fast? Absent. Breathing? Seems to be good. I'm a little thirsty but I don't usually drink at this point in a run so I'm going to skip the water station.
And then I spy Jason up ahead. I do a fist-pump as I pass him on my way to the mile 3 marker.
I'm feeling good. Really good. But then I start to psych myself out. As the 5K runners split off to their finish and I keep going I start to wonder if I can keep this pace for much longer. I should have done the 5K! I think to myself. Why am I not doing the 5K?
Mile 3 and my Garmin beeps. 8:49. Okay, I think. I've banked a lot of time. If I fade at the end it's okay. But, I think to myself, what if I can hold this longer? How many minutes can I cut off my previous PR of 59:59? The mind is the athlete, I tell myself.
I admit, though, I did allow myself to slow down a little bit. The distance between the mile 3 marker and the mile 5 marker seemed to take forever. At that point you're running straight lines along the sides of major roads. Boring! I was mentally struggling at this point. I thought about when Robert from the running group paced me at my last race. I pretended he was next to me, encouraging me like last time. I thought about the text message that Lindsay sent me on Friday. She knew I could do this. I thought about writing this report and knew I wanted a good time to put in it. So, I kept moving.
Again, I skipped the water stops. And when I hit the mile 5 marker at 9:18 and saw my average pace was still hovering just slightly above 9 minutes per mile, I knew I was going to blow my PR out of the water.
Mile 6 was a blur. The course goes past the same spot I passed Jason earlier except this time I was almost hoping he wasn't there. I didn't think I would be as cheerful.
Finally, I could see the finish line up ahead. I tried to dig deep and find just a little bit more oomph. I did see Jason on the sidelines with the camera but I think I must have surprised him as he didn't get any good photos of me.
As I passed the timing mats at the finish line, I saw the most wonderful site: Cub Scouts holding out cups of cold water. I grabbed one as I felt my stomach spasm and threaten to purge anything that might be in there. I managed to keep it together as I sipped my cup of water. And, oh yeah, didn't I have to pee earlier? Turns out I still did. I hit the portapotties again and then walked around in a post-race euphoria while Jason Tweeted and I updated Facebook with my awesome accomplishment.
Because my final time? 56:26. 3 minutes and 33 seconds faster than my previous record of 59:59 and 4 minutes and 54 seconds faster than my time of 1:00:08 at this same race last year.
What a difference a year makes, huh?
We skipped the line for food and instead went to check out the Vietnam War Memorial Moving Wall.
This traveling version of the one in D.C. had the same impact on me as the when I visited the one in Washington. I don't know any names on the wall personally, but just like last time the number of names, the size of the wall, and the people looking, touching, and remembering made me a little choked up. On the back of all our race bibs were the names of soldiers. I don't know if they were all men and women who died in the Middle East, but mine had the name of an 18 year old from Littlestown, PA named Michael Dinterman. He died in Afghanistan on September 6th.
I can totally see why this race gets voted one of the best of the year by the Chicago Area Runners Association. It's well organized. It's a nice course. And, it's a great way to remember what Veterans' Day is about as opposed to just a day off work or school.
For me, it will also be the race where I realized that, yes, I can push myself.
Now, on to getting my 10K time to 55 minutes!
Pace: 9:06 per mile
Overall place: 324 out of 529
Gender/Age Group: 18th out of 32
After the race, Jason and I headed to one of my favorite restaurants for brunch. I celebrated with breakfast and a pomegranate Bellini. And after that? A nap.
Posted from bimactive.com