You might notice that this picture is a lot like the picture I posted of the 2015 Cherry Blossom race, but with fewer cherry blossoms. I was really hoping that the professional pictures from the race would be done by the time I wrote this post, because other than this one picture I took at the starting line, I got nada. Not even after the finish line, when I met up with my friend (who did an awesome job and then proved to be an awesome person by waiting for me), or when I got my medal. By the time I crossed the finish line, I was deep into “fuck this shit” mode, and you know what I don’t do when I’m in “fuck this shit” mode? Take pictures. Because fuck that shit.
That being said, it was an awesome race and I had a hella good time running it.
To start with, I broke the cardinal rule of never doing anything new during a race. I wore new arm warmers–I never wear arm warmers, so this was a first for me. I tried the Stinger Cherry Cola chews, also a first. I was also using a brand new hydration belt; usually I run with a CamelBak, but it didn’t fit the essentials, so I figured I would give this a try. This should have set me up for a disaster or two, but it was fine. I chafed a little, but I already knew I’m sensitive, so I prepared with Body Glide and that kept the worst at bay. The Cherry Cola chews were nice and didn’t hurt my stomach, but I only took two of them, so YMMV. The belt is a winner; review to come when I get around to it.
Sunday was a gorgeous day for a race. The weather was on the chilly side, which I prefer when I’m running. Blue skies, very slight breeze. I couldn’t ask for a better day to do something painful.
The race started out really well. I had my Garmin on, but I didn’t want to focus on anything other than finishing, so I didn’t check it frequently. The first time I looked was when I hit 4.5 miles. That was a lovely surprise, because I thought I had only gone three. There are volunteers holding signs at various mile markers, but I hadn’t been paying much attention, due to the interesting podcast.
At mile 5, I ate two of the Stinger chews. They do, in fact, taste remarkably like cherry cola. I was still feeling strong, and kind of surprised about it. It felt so much easier than the treadmill runs I had been suffering through lately. Then I remembered that I usually set the treadmill to an incline, and this was a flat race, mostly.
At mile 6, I realized that I had been running at a much faster pace than what I trained at (9 minute miles, as opposed to 10.5, if you want to know the embarrassing truth). And I was all, “What, like it’s hard?”
At mile 7, I wanted to punch mile 6 Lynn in the throat, because yes, bitch, it’s hard. I slowed waaaay down. I walked through the water station, even though I wasn’t stopping for water. Mile 8 was more of the same. I don’t know my pace, because it didn’t occur to me to check, but I figure I was running 12 minute miles at that point. I saw the 11 minute pacer behind me and rallied a bit. If you were there and heard someone yell, “Not today, Satan! Not today!” that was me.
There is a hill at mile 9.5. In all honesty, it’s probably more of a slight incline, and absolutely nothing compared to the hills I run around my neighborhood. But at that point my legs hurt so much, and even though I was expecting it (because everyone warned me), I wanted to cry. I also wanted to walk, but I couldn’t. There were too many witnesses. They were yelling and cheering and holy hell, but I hated every single one of them.
But they served their purpose. I didn’t walk. I ran up the damn hill. I crossed the finish line. I’ll be honest: It was kind of a letdown. Normally, when I do something this hard, when my body aches this much, there is a fantastic view to reward me. Mountains and self-actualization and all that shit. This time there was only pavement and strangers. Where was my goddamn view?
Then my phone buzzed. I’m on your left.
And all was right in my world. Friends are good like that.