« Marathon Training Weeks 6-12 | Main | Marathon Training Week #13: September 11 - 17, 2006 »

Weirdest Race Experience Ever!

AKA: The race that almost wasn't

I had my second "tune-up" race scheduled today; it was supposed to be next week but I flipped the weeks around as there weren't really any races next weekend. I woke up to rain, but it didn't seem to be coming down that hard and it was warm out. But before I left, it started thundering and lightning - which could lead to a cancelled race. I tried to think of a back up plan (maybe I could run mid-long today and do my MRP workout tomorrow and then try to race next weekend) but decided to head over to the race site anyway just in case it was still on. The rain got worse as I drove over, and I got kind of annoyed about that.

When I got to the site, the race was still on but the RD was checking the weather radio and would be making an announcement soon as to whether it'd be cancelled or delayed. I decided to go ahead and register - their race day registration set up was pretty sweet! We were in a conference room of the hospital, and they had laptops set up for registration. You selected your race (5K or 10K) and filled in everything yourself and then it printed out your details and the waiver. So much better than handwriting your form. I took my waiver to the table to pay and got my shirt and bib, and then found a spot to hang out for the announcement.

Not a lot of people had come by, so I started to wonder if it was just going to be me and TW (speedy guy that wins lots of races here) running the 10K - how boring that would be, I thought. I passed the time chatting with JT, a woman that's also running Chicago next month. Eventually, the RD made a decision: it looked like the bad weather was clearing up/passing through, so the races would be delayed 15 minutes. Yay! I ran part of my warm-up with JT, and it was nice having someone to run and talk with. It had stopped raining, but there were still a lot of wet patches.

When it came time to line up, TW was the only one that got up front, and he wasn't even directly on the "line." The rest of us were all being shy, I guess. Eventually, 2 other girls and I moved forward. The gun went off, and TW took off really fast. Another girl and I took off in 2nd/3rd, which was really, really weird! Were we going too fast? Why were there no men with us? I was behind the other girl for about the first 1/2 mile and then I passed her because I didn't think I was running hard enough. I passed the first mile in 6:58, which is about what I wanted my average pace to be so that was decent.

About maybe 1.25 miles, there's a short but steep hill. It sucks, and I think it might be the cause of the slight slowdown I had in mile 2 (7:08). The ground was slightly slick through parts of the mile, too. Despite a little bit of rain, mile 3 was much nicer - we were running out of the wind, and I was able to pick up some time (6:47). There were a couple of turns were I was able to see if anyone was behind me - and no one was. I had a huge gap on the people behind me - and weirdest of all, the only person in front of me was TW, so I was running 2nd OA. This never happens ...

I passed 5K about 21:40, which I was pretty pleased by. I lost a little focus during mile 4 (6:56), because I was so isolated; there were 2 girls volunteering that went nuts as I passed by and that helped a lot. Thanks volunteers! My legs started getting a little leaden after 4, though, as we had to run back up that hill and through the slick parking lot. (Race is a loop that you run 2x). I tried to keep moving, telling myself "go go" and trying to force myself to surge. I never saw the 5 mile mark, but according to GPS, I hit it around 6:58.

Here's where things get weird, split-wise. After 5 miles, we headed out of the wind onto a long straightway. I felt like I was running strong, even with my tired legs, and occasional peeks at the GPS showed I was in the 6:50s. Over the last half of mile 6, I felt like I was picking it up. Yet my 5-6 split is 14:15 (7:08/mi basically), which I just don't find plausible. Garmin claims that stretch was 2.06 mi instead of 2 ... whatever. So I hit 6 miles at 42:07 and knew I had to haul ass if I wanted to beat my time from 2 weeks ago. I tried picking it up, but as I rounded the corner to the finish I saw the clock was fast ticking past 43. I dug deep and bore down to sprint in as hard as I could. Crud - all that and only 2 seconds off last time. Oh well.

Since I was the first female (and 2nd OA - still, what in the world?) they wanted to take my picture once I got my breath back. I'm sure it's a very lovely picture, what with all the sweat.

I headed inside for a drink, and then changed shoes so I could go out for a 2 mile cooldown to round out my 10 miles for the day. Then it was time to stretch while waiting for the awards. I guess the rain must have scared off a lot of people ... TW ran 38 something, and the next person behind me ran 45 something. I knew I had a chance to finish in the top 3, depending on who showed up but I didn't expect to be in the top 3 including men. So this was, without a doubt, the weirdest race experience ever.

7:08 | 14:07
6:47 | 20:55
6:56 | 27:51
14:15 | 42:07
43:27 | 7:00/mi.


TrackBack URL for this entry:


I love that speed. Congrats on a great (weird) race!

You change your shoes to cool down? Is that because the other were wet?

Awesome race!! I would have hid too today. I am supposed to do 9 miles tommorow AM, which might be done on the treadmill.

Congratulations! First female and 2nd overall that's awesome.

Nice job with the race. 2nd overall wow. Your at about my fitness level, so I find your training and racing reports quite interesting to follow. I'm hoping to do a sub 7min/mile 10k as my last tune-up race.

Congrats on a weird but great race...man, I want races where I can lead the whole way!!