After having a somewhat lousy road race experience on July 4th with Covid, I was excited to redeem myself at the Labor Day 5k Race in downtown Columbia. In fact, it was at the exact same location! So far for this year with races, my fastest pace was at my First Sprint Triathlon. That still gives me a chuckle. How in the world has my fastest running pace been in a run that was AFTER a swim and a bike?? That still blows my mind, but there have been so many things that continue to blow my mind regarding endurance training. It’s fascinating on so many levels.
Two days before the race, I was scheduled to go on an 8 mile route. EIGHT. MILES. The farthest I had ever gone before this was 6 miles, and I was all kinds of nervous about it. My legs were tired the next day, but definitely felt okay. The reason I call it a route instead of a run is because I train based on heart rate. Basically, once my heart rate gets over 145, I slow down to a walk until it gets back into the 120’s, then I go back to a slow jog to keep it as steady as possible.
I signed up for this race a couple months in advance, while my husband literally waited until the week before to register. Although he’s been training on his treadmill before work, he didn’t want to make a decision early on about participating in this race. Why? I have absolutely no idea what goes on in that brain of his, and it’s probably best that way. In all fairness, I’m a planner when it comes to practically everything, which means I’m already planning out races for next year. Yeah, I’m one of those people.
The day before the race, I went out for a lake day with my family. The kids went on the tube, and halfway through the day we ended up pulling the tube into the back of the boat to ride around. While I was helping my brother pull this massive tube out of the water, my left foot stepped back and the arch came down hard on a hard plastic doorstop to keep the back door of the boat open. I winced in pain at how sharp it went into my foot. At first it was okay, but then it started to progressively get worse.
I sat down after we got the tube put up and examined my swollen, tender foot that was starting to turn purple.
You have got to be kidding me. Not before the race tomorrow!!!
I took a little ice pack out of my lunchbox and held it against my boo-boo for about 5 minutes, and kept it propped up.
Worst case scenario, I’ll take some ibuprofen and suck it up. There’s no way I’m skipping this race tomorrow.
I limped on it for a few more hours the rest of the day, then took some ibuprofen before going to bed.
September 5, 2022
I’m starting to think I have pre-race anxiety, based on how I sleep the night before races. Our kids spent the night with my parents since we were planning to leave the house by 6:30am, allowing them to sleep in and hang out with Grammy and Grampy for a little while. I woke up at 1:30am, 3:30am, then up for the morning at 5:00am.
WHY AM I AWAKE???
Hubby had the alarm set for 5:50 to make sure we had time to get up, get dressed, really wake up, and he likes to drink coffee before. I like to save my coffee for after the race, since I’m already having pre-race jitters and don’t want to escalate it any more than it already is with caffeine.
I drank two full glasses of water to make sure I had plenty of hydration, and packed a water bottle with my LMNT electrolytes to sip on half of it before the race. I debated eating before this race since it was so early in the morning, and decided to fast for this one since it was short and early. He got up when his alarm went off and we got ready, then headed out to the car right before 6:30am. We pulled out of the driveway, and I checked my email for the race info for anything I may have missed.
Good thing I did, because I gasped after we pulled out of the neighborhood and yelled, “THE RACE DOESN’T START UNTIL 8:30!!! Are you serious?! OMG!!” Hubby said, “What? Are you kidding? Do I need to turn around?” I slapped my palm to my forehead at my mistake, and said, “Yeah, let’s turn around. No reason to get there over an hour early if we don’t have to, and I’ll go ahead and eat something.”
He’s not a morning person, and teased me about us having to get up early. He had another cup of coffee along with his muffin, so I had an apple and Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Bar. I wanted to stick to something that was light that would be enough to give me energy for the race without weighing me down. I begged him to drink some Gatorade before the race so he could avoid dehydration, so he sipped on it at home and in the car. I have seen him crash a few times from dehydration on these runs, and have learned how incredibly crucial it is to stay hydrated.
Forty-five minutes go by, and we’re on the road…again. He reaches over and grabs my hand during the car ride and says, “I like doing these races together.” I smiled and said, “Me too!” He’s much faster than me being a natural endurance athlete with his tall, slender frame, and has been running on and off for many years.
It hit me that I hadn’t thought to check on my foot from yesterday’s fiasco. “Well, it didn’t hurt walking around this morning, so I didn’t even think to check on it. That’s a good thing!” I said to him in the car.
We get to the race site and immediately find the port-o-potties. His coffee and my water went right through us. My friend Steffonie was there to run as well, so we walked to the start line together. We’re all at different paces, so we ended up splitting up during the route.
You would be amazed to see all of the different people at these races. The ones who are “real runners” stick out, because you can tell by their overall physique and the way they warm up that they’re serious. They take off in the beginning and we don’t see them again until the finish line, and they’re cheering us on after they’re done.
Endurance events are fascinating. One minute I’m passing people who are younger, fitter, and stronger than me. Next minute, I’m getting passed by a mom pushing a stroller and someone old enough to be a grandmother.
A lot of new people start out hot and fast, then can’t hold on to their pace. I have learned over the past five months of training that being steady and consistent is crucial to endurance training. In fact, my SLOWEST pace for this race was during the first mile, fastest pace during my second mile, and I had the energy to blast through the finish line almost sprinting at the very end.
While on the route, I spotted a mom pushing a stroller. At first, her little 2 year old was jogging beside her as I passed them. It was so stinkin’ adorable. A few minutes later, the little girl was inside the stroller and they passed me. Little while later, I passed them. Shortly after that, they started to pass by me again and I told her, “You are my hero!” She laughed, and we ran a steady pace together for about 5 minutes, chatting along the way. She was in her late twenties, and said she ran cross-country in high school.
Leave it to me to strike up a conversation with a stranger during a race.
While approaching a hill, there was a guy standing on the side of the road cheering for us. I called out to him, “You’re cheering for us, but you’re not mentioning anything about that hill up ahead!” He laughed and said, “You can do it! Just keep going, it’ll go downhill!” I get a little ways up and hear him calling out to the person behind me, “Hey, beat that lady up there in the teal shirt!” I turned around, pointed at him and cried, “HEY!!!” We both laughed, and I started working my way up that hill.
I really need to do some hill training, I thought.
All I wanted to do in this race was beat my best average pace per mile, which was 11:48. Progress over perfection!
You can hear the finish line before you actually see it, because there was a huge line of people cheering for everyone who came through. The lady who I was talking to had gotten a little ways ahead of me. I laughed as I thought to myself, I’m sure she wasn’t going to let some old 42 year old rookie beat her in this race. Get it, girl.
I rounded the corner that started to descend down that last hill, and saw the finish line ahead. I looked for hubby, and spotted him smiling, clapping, and cheering when he saw me. This is when the surge of energy ran through my veins, and I picked up the pace. I was running through the lines of people by myself with a HUGE smile on my face, and several people held out their hands to slap me a high five. I reached out and slapped several hands as I went by, and they cheered even louder. There was a photographer at the finish line, snapping pictures of each finisher. You would think I won the whole race by the smile on my face and throwing my hands up in the air, but I didn’t care. I knew I had finished the race feeling better than ever, and was making progress.
When the race results were posted, I about fell over. I knew that I had done better as far as my average pace, but I was NOT expecting to see a 45 second pace per mile improvement!! I was ecstatic with the progress!
This is why I do this, right here. The thrill of finishing the race, the feeling of seeing progress and accomplishment being a middle-aged mom. THIS IS WHY I KEEP GOING, AND HAVE NO INTENTIONS OF STOPPING ANYTIME SOON. Never give up!!!
Total Time: 34:19
Average Pace: 11:03
Division Place: 4/10