Race day magic. It's what happens on those days when you feel like cr@p, your expectations are low, and yet, somehow, you end up surprising the hell out of yourself.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
haven't blooped in two weeks, since my last race, where I had a sub-par
5K that left me gloomy and grumpy. I have been fighting plantar
fasciitis for several weeks now, and that had me down too. The next week
I rested, mostly, and did massage and stretching. The PF was getting a
little better, so I did two hilly trail runs on the weekend for 17 miles
total, and the feet still felt OK after. Not perfect, but better.
Then Tuesday it all went to hell.
ran with my group and the heel was nagging, and then at 1.7 miles
something got strained or something, and the pain got much worse. I had
to stop. I couldn't run without limping. I turned back and
walked/limped/tried to jog all the way back. It was bad. So I knew I
needed more downtime and wasn't sure if I would be able to race on
Saturday, 3 1/2 days later.
on Tuesday, the government shut down, and with it, the Grand Canyon,
and I realized my rim to rim trip the next week was in danger. Of
course, if I can't hardly walk, it was moot anyway. Blerg.
So I spent the rest of the week hoping for improvement. And moping.
night it was better. I test-jogged 1/2 a block while walking the dogs,
and I didn't limp, so I decided to go ahead and get up the next day and
go to the race and at least start it. If the pain came back, I would
bail and "DNF" if necessary. I figured it was 50/50. And then we had
friends come over. And they brought champagne and wine. And vodka. And
it would be rude not to try all the drink concoctions that were cooked
up, right? So I had 5 drinks and went to bed buzzed. Whatever.
day dawned sunny and hot. It would get to the high 80's later that day -
record heat for the beach. But it was fine in the low 60's at race
time, with plenty of shade. I did about a half mile warmup, and the heel
was a little sore, but certainly a manageable pain. Nothing that would
impact my stride. And my legs felt very fresh! I guess all the rest was
good for something! I felt significantly better in my warmup than I did
for the 5K two weeks ago. I started to feel that I could maybe have a
is the only 10K of the year for me, and I had been aiming for it all
summer. My goal was to go under 7 minute pace, and beat my over-40 PR
from last year of 43:16. This was a tough goal because this course is
quite a bit harder than the one I ran last year. There are rolling hills
throughout, and one nasty hill in mile 5 that can really break you.
This race is also a very competitive one - all the good local racers are
here. Over 3,500 people.
It's also a local tradition for
36 years now. I have done it 13 times. They give medals ten deep in each
AG! And I have never got one. But based on last year, I knew I could be
close, so that was another goal. The track club I joined focuses on
this race too. We all wore our uniforms and were all over the course! It
was really fun to be part of a team again! This club dominates the
awards, and I was hoping I could be part of the celebration. Here we are
after the race.
course starts at the red mark, loops around and back, then out and back
next to my trail, and then finishes with 1 mile on the beach bike path.
A great course.
OK, race time!
got out ahead of most of the crowd, but didn't get sucked out too fast
either. Just right. I was at 6:45 pace in the first 1/4 mile and tried
to relax. I already had several club members around me and I used them
to help me stay on pace. The heel was fine, and I hit mile 1 in 6:50.
was working hard, and getting the usual mid-race realization of just
how much this was going to hurt. A couple little hills amped up the
breathing, but they were followed by downhills which were just enough to
make me feel alive again. I got through mile 2 in 6:53, but was hating
life, and getting the usual thought that there was NO WAY I could keep
this pace up for 4 more miles! Silly thoughts like "I'll just get to 3
and call it good, and coast in from there". But the experienced racer
inside knew I was on the right pace, and that, although it would hurt, I
could keep this going. Oh yes, there will be pain. But that's why we do
this, right? To test our limits.
Here I am at mile 2. The
guy to my right is 66 and ran 44 something, winning his AG. The girl
behind me is 51 and ran 43 something. 2nd in her AG. We ran together,
back and forth, for much of the race. Friendly rivals, but racing hard.
It was fun.
hate to break it to you, but sometimes my feet do touch the ground. I
just look so much better floating. But this pic shows a better view of
how I really felt.
3 had more rollers and I ran 7:01. Mile 4 had more downhill and I
managed 6:54. So I was still on track for sub-7, although it was closer
than that at the actual mile markers. The heel was fine. Sore but not a
problem. Race pain was much worse than a silly heel bruise pain.
caught a few people I knew and edged ahead of my rivals. Still feeling
confident despite the suffering. I was hanging on...right on the edge.
And then we hit the big hill. About 100 feet or so in 2 blocks. I tried
to take it conservatively, but I immediately got into oxygen debt and
the legs got heavy. I REALLY felt like I was dying and would be passed
any minute, but I guess we were all suffering the same since no one
Cresting that hill was so sweet. Because then
was an even steeper downhill that you can charge down as your lungs try
to get back to normal. Wheeeeee!!!!!!!!!! But then was a hard left turn
on to the bike path and over a mile straight to the finish. Mile 5 was
7:14 with the hill, and I knew from experience that mile 6 would be
The last mile you can see the pier off in the
distance, marking the finish. People are cheering the whole way. It is
narrow and loud and exciting and beautiful. And I am just suffering
greatly. Still recovering from the hill, but now with the end in sight,
you automatically ramp it up (too early), go into oxygen debt (again)
and just hang on as long as you can. It's brilliantly brutal and
I knew I would be close to my goal, so I was
giving it all I could. Still had a little left and passed a few more
people. Just hanging on mostly. Soon it would be over, so just hang on!!
6 was 6:47, with the last .26 at 6:06 pace. I saw the clock click over
my goal time just before I got there, but I knew I had a few seconds
chip time in my pocket. Official final time: 43:14 A new PR by two
seconds! 6:58 pace. Got it!!
Check out the hill, and its effect on my pace.
man. It took quite some time to get my breathing back to normal. But I
was so happy and excited! Race day magic! My feared DNS or DNF turned
into a surprise PR! 10K #94 done! Best time in 11 years.
hung out with my club afterward for the awards ceremony. The timers had
some problems so they never posted results until they finally announced
the winners about 90 minutes after I finished. So I waited and hoped as
they read off the names for the top ten medal winners. I figured it
would be close, but then I heard my name right at the end! 10th place! I
jumped up to get my medal and my new club-mates applauded. It was nice.
And to top it off, I got home to find the DW had got In 'N Out double burgers! Who's the happiest guy in town? This guy!
By the next day they had updated the results, and now they show me 12th
in my AG. Oops! But the medal is already on my wall of fame. I'm
thinking I just won't say anything. Unless they ask me to return it.