Out of shape and racing two weekends in a row! So maybe I am getting a little ahead of myself, but honestly this time it wasn’t my idea. Just a week and a half before the Cancer Center 5k (days before the Big Avocado 5k), my company offered to cover the registration cost for up to twenty employees. They faced one problem when making such an awesome and generous offer, it was really last minute. The first few days, they struggled to get ten people to sign up. I was going to give the race a pass, given that I was about to run one 5k and I’ve got a half marathon at the end of the month, but the running geek girl inside me finally won out when they were still looking for people a couple days later. Plus, people around the office couldn’t believe I wasn’t going to do it and I have a reputation to maintain.
Two late nights in a row led to one exhausted geek girl come race morning. I was really dragging and if it wasn’t for the company footing the bill, I might have just stayed in bed. The morning was crisp and clear. By the time I reached the event parking, I found myself rocking out to the radio and excited for the morning. I found a huddle of my coworkers near the starting line where I received greetings and my bib along with an awesome goodie bag (the Cancer Center knows how to put together a goodie bag!).
Since I was unfamiliar with this race, I took my cues from those around me. In fact, I wasn’t even sure where the starting line was until they yelled “GO” and the mob started moving. The start of the run was a mess to put it nicely. The street was so packed with walkers, that I couldn’t even start running for more than two tenths of a mile. I was weaving in and out like crazy, trying to be polite, but also trying to get well... moving. Ironically, we had been right by the starting line, but a lot of people had already been on the other side of it while waiting. Definitely not a race, race.
|It was thick with walkers|
Once I was able to swim through the walkers, I let things fly. The course started on a downhill and I had seen where the finish line was, so I figured the second half of the course would probably be uphill, so I might as well enjoy the free ride for as long as I could. About a quarter to half a mile in, my boss’s boss passed me, calling out my name and giving me a wave. He was the one person I was feeling really competitive with since we are currently running at similar paces. He blew by at a good clip and I was going to just let it go, remembering my conversation with Daddio about running this one easy, but once he got about 50 feet up, he either slowed down or I subconsciously started matching his pace.
For the next two miles I watched his back, like an alluring target. I didn’t stop at the aid stations because he didn’t stop. I hardly noticed what was playing through my headphones. I’d start to speed up and then force myself to slow down. When we came to the steepest part of the course, I started seriously gaining on him and gave him a smile as I slipped by. Just as I thought I was cresting the hill, the course turned and went further and further up. My self satisfied smile became a grimace. I had misjudged the hill, my breathing was too labored and my heart rate too high… I was going to need to walk.
I got a few moments of relief before he came running by, a look of concentration on his face. At this point I knew we were maybe half a mile from the finish line. I started jogging, picking up where I had left off, trailing behind him. Finally we crested the incline and started down again, the finish line now within sight. He sped up, I sped up. A father with a stroller almost passed me, I sped up more. I passed a few runners who didn’t seem as eager for the finish and I was gaining on him, but the distance was just too short and he was eager. He finished a good twenty feet ahead of me and boy did I get to hear about it at work on Monday!
Post race was a huge buffet breakfast catered by the Marriott, free massages and raffles. I hung around, enjoyed a massage, ate too much food and hung out with my coworkers. When the official times were posted, I was extremely disappointed to note that their time was 35 seconds off my watch time. After coming through the finish line, I had to wait in line to get my number taken down and I have a feeling that that is where most of the extra time came from. A couple of other people I talked to made the same complaint. As a runner, it’s hard to put in that much effort only to have extra time added on due to disorganization. But, I did end up coming in 5th out of 56 in my age group!
Positive note, the Cancer Center was able to raise more than $150,000 and had a record number of runners and walkers come out for the event. Maybe next year they will be more prepared for the crowds. It was a fun event for a good cause!
The side adventure of the morning:
Finding the woman's bathroom
|Ok, just down the hall...|
|Well, maybe just down this ramp...|
|Across this courtyard...|
|Up these stairs somewhere...|
Yes, I did finally find it! It was like a bathroom scavenger hunt!