Leading up to the race, my training runs were just okay. I never felt great about any of them. In fact, several were a struggle as I dealt with side stitches. I am not sure why they continue to reoccur. I normally drink and eat the same things when training as I would for racing. I always make sure to drink large amounts of water and eat tons of bananas. I decided earlier this week that I either have a hydration issue or some undiagnosed stomach issue. Since I can control the hydration, I went into the race fully hydrated and hit almost every water station on the course. Literally. I think there was one about every 1.5 miles and I hit all but 2. I think it helped. I had some minor cramping, but none like on several previous training runs.
So, the race was okay. I finished in 2:03:06. I m a little bummed to not have finished with a better time. I started off so well. This course is hilly. The hilliest race I have ever run. And it's not like you run up a hill and then get a downhill. No, that would be too easy. It is run up a hill to a pretty flat area and then run up another hill. There were very few downhills. I did awesome on miles 1-10. I kept telling myself to keep my pace and not worry about the people around me. Let them pass me. Just keep the pace. I ran an average 8:40 pace per mile during that period. I felt great and had no problems. It was a bit windy, but other than some serious hills, I was on my way to finishing in under 2 hours and possibly evening setting my half PR.
Then came mile 11. It started sprinkling around mile 9 and continued to get harder until it turned into a total downpour and rained the entire rest of the race. My legs started to feel the effects of all of the hills. I did a lot of hill training to try and prepare for this and I have run this course before, but I forgot how horrible the hills are! So, my legs felt like lead weights, it was raining cats and dogs, and the winds were gusting up to 30 mph. I also started to get some side stitches and had to stop several times to stretch them out. I definitely lost focus. I averaged a 15:00 min pace on this mile.!?!?! It did me in. I was thinking about giving up, kicking myself for not wearing my running hat, getting mad because the last aid station only had Powerade (which I hate) and I was really wanting some water. Looking back, I would have pushed myself more had I realized how horrible I was running. I just felt so bad at the time. Had I kept closer to the pace, I would have definitely finished in under 2 hours. Ugh! I am so mad at myself even still as I write this blog.
Somewhere just after mile 11, people started pushing each other along with cheers and complements for getting up the hill or running in the rain. I jumped over a puddle because my shoes were water logged and so heavy on my feet. Water in Bloomington does not drain off the streets when it rains, so I am not sure why I was trying to jump puddles. Anyway, the older guy next to me laughed and started making fun of me. He asked what a little water hurt at this point. I started laughing and I guess he got me to lighten up a bit and not focus so much on how bad I felt. At that I point, minus a few quick stops to stretch my side, I did miles 12 and 13 at a 9:20 min pace. I was never so happy to cross a finish line in my life. I was soaked, cold, in pain, and disappointed with my time. But, my friend Mandy greeted me at the end. She ran the earlier 5k and waited around about 1.5 hours to see me finish, which was really encouraging! I was actually bummed thinking no one would be there at the end and then she caught me right away and got some pictures, too!
You can see my decline on the chart below. The little circles show my pace at different points in time, which you can't see. But, you can see my steadiness throughout the race until the very end when I hit mile 11. Dang, I am still mad about that. (I forgot to turn off my Nike+ at the end and it is usually off about .25 miles, so that is why the miles are slightly off.)
Some interesting things I saw along the way:
- A guy wearing those shoes that look like your foot and are supposed to simulate barefoot running. I have seen them before, but never actually saw someone wear these in a race. They don't look that comfortable to me. I stick with my cushioned shoes!
- After that, I saw a guy running barefoot! Yes, completely barefoot. I can't even imagine. Part of the course was on the shoulder of the bypass (a major road through Bloomington) which is all rocky. Then we ran through campus and by tons of construction zones where the roads were cracked and uneven from all the equipment. Then, through the rain puddles on the road. No way. Even if it is scientifically better for me to run barefoot, I choose to stick with my cushioned shoes again!
- A police officer staring down a female runner in a white t-shirt. He was working at one of the intersections and she was a bit ahead of me when she passed him, so I saw the entire lookdown. This, of course, was the part of the race where we were totally soaked and you could see right through her shirt. It was rather funny.
- A guy in a banana suit. Everyone gave him high-5s along the route. Also pretty funny.
Congrats to all my friends running the 5k and half! Everyone did great despite the conditions!