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

Sunday, April 17, 2011

CARA Lakefront 10 Mile Race Report

Early Saturday morning, in the dark and the rain, Jason and I picked up some fellow OPRC runners and drove to the lakefront for the CARA Lakefront 10 Mile race. In the car we debated clothing options. Tank top and arm warmers? Short sleeves? Jacket? Pants? Capris? Shorts? When it's 50 and rainy and there's a possibility of wind one never quite knows what to wear. I ended up pinning my bib number to my capris so that I could wait until the last minute to decide what to wear on top.

I settled on my new OPRC tank top, and arm warmers. I did one last portapotty stop before realizing I'd forgotten my Clif Shot Bloks at home. Thankfully Helen was kind enough to share hers. After looking at the course map I'd decided that there would be enough water stations that I wouldn't need my fuel belt. But I wasn't sure I was ready to give up the Shot Bloks.

We gathered around Jason, looking like the Gorton's fisherman, our beacon in his yellow rain gear and our own personal gear check. Finally, about 20 minutes before the start, I went off for a one mile warm-up.

Lakefront 10 Warm Up by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

My stomach felt a little off during the warm up and I wondered if I was going to be able to meet my goal of running 9:00 minute miles and hitting 1:30 as my finish time. Both my friends Helen and (Coach) Holly told me I'd definitely finish under 1:30. I hoped I could.

I bumped into a former coworker in the starting corral and we chatted about the icky weather. I really hoped the wind that was predicted wouldn't be blowing us all over the lakefront path and that the light rain wouldn't devolve into the pouring mess I encountered at the March Madness Half Marathon.

We started with an anticlimactic "GO!" and soon we'd hit the one mile mark. I noticed I'd gone out a little faster than I'd wanted but it felt okay so I decided to see how long I could hold that 8:55 pace.

We wound round and round the lakefront path sometimes running closer to the city and sometimes running right next to the beaches. What I didn't see, though, was a water station! At one point I heard a woman in front of me yell to a volunteer "Where's the freaking water station??" Amazingly, I was doing okay. I think the cooler weather and the rain really helped. And the wind no where near the conditions I encountered on my Thursday lunch time run so, to me, it was imperceptible.

"You're pretty brave to be out here in just those arm covers," I heard a fellow runner say to me. Actually, I felt great. Even a little warm. My left hip flexor had started out tight but had loosened up. My left shin felt good, too, once I was a few miles in.

Around mile three another OPRC member who wasn't running cheered for me. And near mile 4 we passed under a pedestrian bridge where Jason was standing taking photos (that's the photo at the top of the post). I was still holding to my sub-9:00 pace and feeling good. When we finally got to an aid station I grabbed a cup of Gatorade and swallowed a mouthful.

Most of the miles were a blur. I glanced at my Garmin every now and then to see how I was doing and was pleasantly surprised to see I was doing better than expected. Near the halfway point, though, I had a moment of doubt. "I have to hold this pace for another 5 miles??" But I quickly changed my train of thought. "I HAVE to hold this pace for another 5 miles. I WILL hold this pace for another 5 miles."

At the aid station between miles 6 and 7 I took my Shot Bloks and drank some water. I then powered up some short hills and started playing mind games with myself. "When I get to mile 7 then it's just one more to mile 8. And then I only have one more mile before I have to pick it up for the finish."

Yeah, oxygen deprivation makes your brain do some weird things.

Still, I was keeping my pace sub-9:00 and although it was starting to feel tough I just reminded myself that it's supposed to be that way when you're pushing yourself. That if it was easy everyone would do it. I grabbed a sip of water at the last aid station and settled in for the push to the finish.

When I got to mile 9 I tried to push it harder. I'd run part of this course before during the PAWS 8K when another OPRC member, Robert, paced me. During those final rolling hills to the finish I distinctly remember him telling me to take it easy on the uphill and pick it up on the downhill. Good advice.

As I closed in on the finish line I saw Holly standing off to the side. "Come on, Erin!" she screamed. "Fast feet! Fast feet!"

"I'm trying!" I grunted as she started running next to me. She pulled ahead to give me something to chase.

"Just one more turn to the finish line! Catch that girl in purple in front of you!"

That's all I needed. I put my all into it and not only passed the girl in purple but I think two or three other people. I was flying for those last 10 yards.

I passed the finish line and promptly doubled over trying to catch my breath. I'd done it. I'd run sub-9:00 minute miles for 10 miles. I'd actually run slightly faster than my 10K PR pace for 10 miles. And I'd finished with an official time of 1:26:40.

That means that if I can repeat this performance on April 30th I can break 2 hours in a half marathon!

Club members thanked Jason for all his support during the race on Saturday. Holding bags, taking pictures, being a meeting spot. I'm thankful for him, too. But I wouldn't be the runner I am today without all of them, either. And I'm proud of all my friends in the club. PRs, age group places, and great times were plentiful on Saturday. There's nothing like sharing the joy of a great race with other people.

Except maybe the hot shower and the nap I took on Saturday afternoon.

CARA Lakefront 10 Mile Race by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Official time: 1:26:40.2
Average pace: 8:41
Overall place: 147/688
Age group place: 36/160