I woke up at 6:15am this morning to run a 15K, which was about 1 minute too late to get into the full parking garage. Thankfully my mother drove me down to the race, otherwise I might have used that as an excuse to turn around and forget the whole thing. Instead, I tumbled out of the car half asleep and wandered to the check-in area as she went to park in a surface lot.
The 15K scared me. I’d never run that far or that long before. My training schedule had called for a 1 hour and 45 minute run a couple weeks earlier, but I’d had to bail on it because of a foot injury. I didn’t know what to expect, but in my best case scenario I envisioned long bouts of walking near the end. Worst case? I hoped I wouldn’t start crying like a little girl on the side of the road during the 10-40% chance of rain.
Before the start of the race the announcer on the loudspeaker told us it was a lovely day for a race, which led me to suspect that he was broadcasting from another state. It was not a lovely day for a race. It was 40 degrees, windy, and overcast with a chance of rain. I suspect they must always say it’s a lovely day for a race, just like late night talk show hosts always say they’ve got a great show tonight even when their only guest is a dog that juggles salami. However, I’d paid my money and I’d gotten up at a godawful hour, so I was going to run even if it started raining sulfur. Considering that the temperature on the day of each one of these training series races has just gotten colder and colder, I fully expect it to snow on the day of the Mini-Marathon.
It’s against the rules to wear headphones during the race, but I decided to treat that more like a guideline than an actual rule because there was no way I was going to run for almost two hours in utter silence. Cheesy techno music is as essential for long runs as Gatorade. I don’t know how anyone finished a marathon before the invention of the synthesizer. I noticed several other runners were wearing iPods on their sleeves and had earbuds on and no one bothered busting us. I prefer to wear huge, old-school, headphones hidden under my hat since I worry that earbuds will fall out of my ear lobes. I already had a 60-minute playlist made for my long run two weekends ago, so I listened to that and scrolled back to the middle near the end of the race.
And we were off! After the second mile the race saw its first casualty. There on the sidewalk was a dead turtle. I cringed at its broken shell and the fresh red blood oozing onto the concrete. The poor little snapper couldn’t cross the road fast enough. I wouldn’t have been surprised if I’d been trampled myself if I’d stumbled on some of the small concrete chunks littered near the gutter.
After 45 minutes it started to sprinkle. I began to zip up my jacket in anticipation of a cold, wet shower, but then the rain stopped and I thanked whatever god is in charge of the weather for having mercy on me. As I continued down the road, I was blasted by an ungodly headwind. I kept plowing forward, but it was difficult to make any progress, like I was running on a treadmill headed the other direction. At mile 7 my hands were so cold I actually put my gloves back on, something I’ve never had to do after my body has warmed up during a race. I kept my hat on for the whole run too.
Despite the cold and the wind and the dead turtle, I had a really good run. At every mile there is an electronic sign that states the mile and the race time. I ran past the 5-mile sign and then the 6-mile sign and later the 7-mile sign and was amazed to find myself thinking, “I’m feeling pretty good.” I credit this feeling to my carbo-loading the day before and my strategically timed ingestion of PowerGels at 45 minutes and 1 hour and 15 minutes into the race. Those things really work. I also drank Gatorade at each station, though I was sorely disappointed with the service at aid station number four. Normally there are about 8 people at each station whose sole purpose in life is to offer you cups of Gatorade and water. Aid station number 4 was woefully understaffed and I had to actually stop and grab a Gatorade off the table myself. It was bizarre and it added at least 10 seconds of time to my run.
But run I did, for essentially the whole race, only walking to drink Gatorade at aid stations. The cruelest part of the route was near the end when I was plodding down the Canal Walk and finally came upon the State Museum where the finish line was. “Wow, that last mile really breezed by!” I thought…only not. Someone with a cruel sense of humor charted the route so we’d have to run a block around the building even though we could see the bagels and cookies and chips being offered by 500 Festival princesses in tiaras only yards away. Not only that, we also had to run right past a bicycle rental stand.
Yet I made it, all 9.3 miles, in 1 hour 45 minutes and 14 seconds, which is a frakking awesome time for me. That’s a 11:18 minute per mile pace. I was amazed. I really thought I’d have to stop and walk parts of the race, but I ran essentially the whole thing. I rock! It made me confident that I can finish the Mini-Marathon in 3 weeks. That will be another 4 miles, but if I’d really had to I could have done that. It wouldn’t have been pleasant, but I could have handled it, though I would have demanded more bagels at the end. As it was I grabbed two cookies and a French Toast bagel and a banana for my mom, who waited diligently for almost two hours for me to run a big circle.
I’ve updated the sidebar with my 15K time and my weight for this month. A couple eagle-eyed readers noticed I hadn’t weighed in at the beginning of the month like usual. I admit, I knew I’d have to update the sidebar with my 15K time today so I was hoping my weight would go down a little by then too, but it’s at 182, so I may as well post it. I’d of course prefer it was 178 like last month, but then I thought about the fact that I ran 9 miles this morning and decided 182 is nothing to be ashamed of. Nine miles, people! I ran nine miles! Four years ago I was so fat that I injured myself walking up the stairs and this morning I ran nine miles!
Which is why I am exhausted and I hobbled up the stairs to my apartment like an old woman with arthritis. Back to the couch for me so I can work on my favorite part of my training program – rest and recovery.