Way back when I first put this race on my calendar, it was going to be a 10-miler, an automatic PR for a new distance, and another medal for my rack o’ bling. Alas, things did not work out that way, but this story still has a happy ending, I promise!
As I’ve mentioned once or seven times recently, I’m going through some issues with my health; specifically another round of the dreaded trifecta: allergies, anemia and asthma. My breathing is so labored and my iron stores are so low that I’ve temporarily given up running in an effort to speed up the recovery process. Or just… recover, since I don’t think there’s any way to actually hurry this thing along, unfortunately.
I decided to keep the race on my calendar because I am still bound and determined to complete the entire NorCal Tour de Fit series, but dropped down to the 5K distance and figured that I would be walking it.
Ha! Yeah, I don’t do “walking.”
I got dressed in my normal race-day attire (tank top, cute skirt, long socks and fast shoes) and put my hair in piggy tails. I didn’t let myself overthink the day. I would go out trotting, and if I felt good, I would keep it up. Simple. I thought I might be able to squeeze in around 30 minutes, but if it took me longer, so be it.
I did a greatly abbreviated version of my dynamic warm-up, which was silly, because I really could have used a good warm-up, but I wasn’t sure exactly how much running I would be able to do, so I half-assed it. I took a selfie. I lined up too early and stood still too long. I didn’t even bother being nervous, but I was definitely excited. I love racing! Even when I’m very, very likely to run a Personal Worst, I still love getting out there and doing it.
The gun went off and out we went! There were three events going at the same time, and it occurred to me for the first time that I hadn’t looked at the race course at all in preparation for the race. Well, then. I certainly hoped it was well-marked, because I was running waaaaaaay too fast to go 12K or the whole ten miles!
Yep, I was running. I meant to walk. Sort of. Or at least jog. But, no, I was full-on running. OMG, it felt so good to run!
The first mile included lots of long, gradual downhills. It was glorious. We didn’t appear to be on an out-and-back course, so I didn’t worry about trying to run up this sucker later, I just let my legs run free. I knew I wasn’t running a 5K pace, but I felt like I was moving at a pretty good clip. When I hit the one mile marker, I let myself glance at my Garmin. I was secretly hoping for something sub-nine, based on how I felt, and I was not disappointed! In fact, I was giddy. 8:36!
I knew I couldn’t hang on to that pace, but what a thrill! We climbed a short hill to cross over the highway. I thought about walking it, but still had a little something to give, so I hustled on up, and turned back to the north on the riverfront bike trail. This was a really lovely section of river views and only a few homeless people. I still felt pretty good, but the speed was definitely taking its toll on me. As I approached the Mile Two marker, I started bargaining with myself, “If my pace is over 9, I’ll take a walking break.” My thinking was that if I was already running that “slow,” I might as well take a breather. No such luck! Mile two clocked in at 8:48, which was exciting and disappointing all at the same time. I really wanted a walking break!
I kept on. I had passed a few people in the first two miles, but now a few were coming back up to pass me. It was inevitable. My breathing was getting baaaaaaad. I mean, I’ve used the phrase “sucking wind” before, but this was like trying to suck wind through a straw. My chest was tight and it hurt. I thought about slowing down, but I figured that would actually only prolong the agony. It wasn’t really about the speed, it was just that I was running at all. So best to keep on with it. I finally took a short break around Mile 2.5 because I couldn’t stand it anymore and again on a long-ish uphill right before Mile 3 (9:17). That hill kicked my ass. I was toast. But damn if that girl who passed me on the uphill didn’t look like she was probably my age. I am nothing if not fiercely competitive with other middle-aged women, so I gave it everything I had and passed her back.
The last tenth of a mile was a sweet downhill that I was really, really happy to see. I was done! I picked it up to a really good trot (7:52) and went barreling through the finish line, but not before that girl passed me for the last time. Boo! But no matter, I was done. I did it! As happy as I was to start running, I was even happier to stop.
Finish Time – 27:55
OA – 52/409
Age – 4 (Of course. All hail the Queen of Fourth Place!)/33
Like so many races that I go into expecting the worst, I was super duper happy to be able to pull a little something magical out of my ass for this one. I was happy to run and happy that it wasn’t even a PW. I was happy to hand out a few discount codes for Skirt Sports, happy to be at the race venue, happy for the free bottle of water at the finish line and just plain ol’ happy. Any day racing is a mighty good day.
How was your weekend??