Back in November, when I had been running for barely three months, my friend, Katie, asked if I'd be interested in running this ten mile race in March. Having a tendency, once I've discovered something I enjoy, to go at it whole hog, I said, "I'll do it if you do it."
Well, we did it... today.
Georgetown is only about 35 miles from where I live and the race didn't start until 9:30, so I was able to sleep until 6:45, have a leisurely breakfast, and still make it to the race with 45 minutes to spare. I grabbed my bib and got into what seemed like a reasonable port-a-john line. I guess it would have been more reasonable had there been more than one toilet and people weren't taking their sweet time... Anyway, half an hour later, with only about five minutes to spare until the start, I got my chance to pee. When I came out 20-30 seconds later, several people shouted, "That was fast! Fastest pee-er ever!" It was a victory. I knew I wouldn't win the actual race but I got cheered by a crowd, anyway.
At the top of the stairs, I was greeted by Katie, her husband, Vince, and two of her friends, Ken and Juvy. Vince was there to cheer. The rest of us were there to get our run on. Because it was a trail race, they started us in waves of 100. I was in the second wave; the others were in later ones, so we didn't run together. The entire field was fewer than 600 runners - nice and small.
Anyway, I was feeling good for my first five miles. The sun was out but it was at my back. My pace was consistent and almost exactly what I was expecting. I got to the turnaround, ate some GU Chomps to recharge my battery as I headed back toward the start, followed a curve in the trail, and was hit full in the face by the sun. Urg! I've gotten so used to running in cold, wet, snowy even, that the sun and warmth wiped me right out. My mile times went from consistent and at goal to consistently slower.
I stuck with my 9:1 walk/run plan the entire way out. On the way back, I felt like I needed several extra walk breaks. One of the things that kept me going was knowing that I would pass the single solitary water station near mile marker 2.5. I was daydreaming about that water and kept moving because I wanted it so badly. As I approached the water station, I saw them hand a cup to the runner 10 or 20 yards in front of me and then noticed that there was no table, there were no full cups. All that was left was a strewn mess of cups and two guys cleaning up. The guy in front of me had gotten the last of the water. So discouraging!
I kept going, knowing that, only a week before, I'd run nine miles with no water. (Thinking back, though, I realize that run was at a cooler temperature, under overcast skies.) Anyway, I slogged through the next two miles knowing that there had to be water at the end. Knowing that I'd already gotten through 7.5 miles and definitely had it in me to finish up.
I got to the end - 9.6 miles and about 2 hours (UPDATE - official time: 1:56:18) after I started. My Garmin didn't agree with the organizer's measurement of the course. In fact, it disagreed by nearly half a mile. I'd like to believe that my watch is cutting out distance, that I'm really going further and faster than I think, but it doesn't seem like the discrepancy would be that big.
There was water at the end. I quickly guzzled 24 ounces of it and grabbed a bottle for Katie. Ken, Vince, and I waited near the finish to spot Katie and Juvy, both of whom were not far behind me. As they approached the finish, we cheered them through. Then we picked up our t-shirts and medals (my first!) and stretched a bit.
All in all, I was pleased with my effort. I was a bit disappointed in parts of the race but I'm trying to think of it as a learning experience instead of beating myself up as I am prone to do.
Lessons learned from this race:
- Since I'm like a fish that needs an endless supply of water, I need to find the best way to carry my own, especially in smaller races.
- I need to get some prescription sunglasses or start wearing a hat/visor during races that might involve sun in the face. Also, sunscreen.
- I already knew I was a hot runner. That seems to be doubly true in hot weather (duh...), so I need to wear fewer clothes or layers that can be peeled back as the race goes on.
I would not recommend the commute from DC to Baltimore on 295, however. Apparently, everyone in DC wants to go to Baltimore on Saturday afternoon, especially when I have to pee.
Seven weeks until my half marathon in Rochester with the lovely Rebecca.