**GASP** Revenge? Now Kelly, you know that goes against the very fiber of what running is all about don’t you? Runners run for noble causes, in loving memory, even for personal accomplishment. But revenge? Shame on you. That goes against the very essence of what running is. And quite frankly, I’ve come to expect better from you.
Yeah. I hear you out there random blog reader and protectress of the sacred art of sport. But it is what it is and what it is (or was rather) was revenge.
In fact, my husband asked me a couple of weeks ago, “what are you running that race for?” Not that there is anything wrong with running a 5K or specifically the Rollie Hopgood Mid-town Taylor 5K (heretofore to be known as Rollie Hopgood), it’s just that I am right smack in the middle of training for the Air Force Marathon in September. Training which includes a long run on the weekends and generally not a short near sprint of a race.
But the fact of the matter is I had no choice. That race haunts me. You see, it was the first race I ran after getting back into running shortly after the birth of my first daughter and actually, my first 5K ever. Three years ago, when I ran it, I tanked and I tanked hard, barely dragging my sorry behind under that massive inflatable finish line and coming in well behind two friends from high school/college, who had both been athletes in high school, but had not really pursued running at least not back then. And to add insult to injury, as I neared the home stretch, I heard a familiar voice cheering me on, one I hadn’t heard in quite some time. I couldn’t place it as I heard it, but once I crossed the finish, I realized one of my high school track coaches had been on hand to watch the spectacle. He actually told me later that day “I don’t know Kel. You might want to rethink the marathon. It’s pretty tough and you might want to get a little more experience.” (I was a month or so into training for my first. He was probably right, but that’s another topic).
Now, my time that day was actually not too shabby I don’t think: 27:13. But that my friends, that was pure heart as I could literally see my college roommates ahead of me, kicking my behind. I had an extremely difficult time keeping the contents of my stomach actually in my stomach, I’m pretty sure my pace had slowed to a near walk and once it was over, it took a looooooooong time to recover from. I vowed that I could do better and would.
But in 2008, I was 7 months pregnant and not exactly in condition to be pr’ing. In 2009, it just didn’t work out in my schedule. But this year, it did. And I was desperate to have my revenge. My revenge on that course, on that time, and on my head that got the better of me on that last mile. It was time.
So I entered, despite the fact that the race didn’t exactly fit neatly into my running schedule and that I knew chances were slim to none that I’d be finishing anywhere near the top, even in my own age group. You see, Rollie Hopgood is put on by Everal Race Mgt (which in this area at least, automatically means it’s going to be very well organized creating quite a draw) and by the Downriver Runners (which is a very well established running club with some tremendously speedy runners). In fact that first year I ran it, the winning female ran a 5:45 pace. You might have heard of her Sheila Taormina, Olympic gold medalist. In my age group alone that year, the top three runners all ran average paces in the 6 minute range. It’s just a fast fast race.
But it wasn’t about that, it was about putting that race under my belt once and for all. Feeling like I had given it not only my best, but my smartest running effort because running a too fast first mile and sucky stupid 2nd & 3rd miles leaves you shaking your head knowing you could have done better.
So I took it on today, with goal #1 (I always have multiple race goals for some odd reason. Maybe b/c it gives me a better chance at walking away feeling accomplished?) being to run that course faster than before. Goal #2 to PR (beat 24:40). And goal #3 break into the 23’s.
Now, I learned my lesson from the previous race. Gun start, chip finish (so they turn all your timing chips on at once which can add some unwanted seconds, or even minutes on to your time depending on the size of the race and how far away from the start you area when the gun fires or horn blows) so I squeezed my way up near the front, but not too close so I wouldn’t get plowed over since I am in no way capable of 5ish or 6ish minute miles at least not any in a row (or any that happen to be 1600 meters in length). Giving my best guesstimate as to where the 7ish minute mile runners were gathering, I attempted to blend in.
Setting aside that it was starting to get hot and that one of the most disingenuous politicians I have ever met was selected to start the race (grrrrrr...politicians….so frustrating….no business at any of my races ruining my running chi. Why is it that they insist on getting their fingers on EVERYTHING? Really, do you think pushing the button on the little air horn somehow makes you one with runners and thus more electable? It just annoys me that we’ve got to stop and take two seconds to recognize their almighty presence. How about you just come and hand out water at an aid station? Hmmm? Now that would impress me. Ok vent over. Sorry about that, but you know me and politicians right? I suppose I should just be thankful that she didn’t speak. Anyway…), I was good to go. Cue air horn.
And off I went down a couple of shadeless blocked off from traffic main roads. Waaaaay too fast. Yep, the Rollie Hopgood mile one bested me yet again. I know it’s because the race is so dang fast. It just doesn’t feel like you are running that quick when everyone around you is running at the same speed and you’ve just started so you’re not tired yet.
Mile One – 7:14 and remember you can peel off at least a couple of seconds for not standing right immediately at the start line. I believe I counted 4. So a 7:10 first mile. Fastest mile I have ever run in a race, maybe ever. Not good when your game plan was to run negative splits (or in other words, the second half faster than the first). Kind of hard to run your 2nd and 3rd mile faster than your 1st, when your first was the fastest mile you’ve ever run.
Perhaps needless to say, I slowed down on that second mile. I actually re-vamped the game plan once I hit that first mile marker and assessed the damage. New plan: slow down to 8:30ish & rest a little for mile 2. Pick the pace back up for mile 3. Sprint to the finish.
But it was also about this time when I spotted this 9 year old boy just ahead of me. And now I must pose one of life’s great unanswerable questions: Why is it that someone so small, nearly half your size, with short little legs and practically no muscle in comparison can get those little legs moving just as fast as you or faster even and keep them that way for so long? It just doesn’t seem right. But this little dude stayed ahead of me the entire race (way to go kid. He ran a 24:40). He was a rabbit. I was a fox. The fox went hungry today. I could NOT catch that kid for the life of me. At one point I was pretty close to shouting “WEAR OUT ALREADY WOULD YOU?!” (hmmm…I might have I’m not sure ;-) But I’ll tell you one thing, he made a fine argument for limiting kids to kids races only. That way the adults can save face.
Mile Two – 8:26 All part of my plan. For the second mile we ran down a side street and back to the park where we started. The heat was starting to get to me (since when have I become such a hot weather pansy?). So, I grabbed a cup of water. Unfortunately, I am apparently incapable of drinking out of a little paper cup of water at an 8:26 pace so I just spilled it all over myself (which felt great!). Then we were onto some very well groomed gorgeous trails through the woods (ahhhhh….shade) before we spit back out into the sun, the dreaded dastardly sun, onto the paved park trails. I was fading fast.
Mile Three – 8:36 Apparently my legs didn’t get the entire message on my revised game plan. The pick it back up for the last mile just wasn’t happening. In fact, I think I might have ended up far worse if I didn’t tell myself off somewhere in the middle of it and get my act together because the second half of this mile was much faster than the first. Good thing, because I was passing by my husband and my babies near the 3 mile marker, by then I was back on.
.1- 0:47 (Does this even mean anything to anyone?) This was up a little hill, then downhill to the finish. I sprinted. I am only kicking myself a teeny bit for not completely running through the finish. Because:
I tied for 2nd in my age group. Woohoo! Had I not been kind of bummed at seeing the clock hit 25:00, I would not have eased up any and maybe I would own that 2nd place myself. But for now, it seems I will just have to share it at 25:07.
And while I didn’t hit all of my goals, I at least hit one to run a faster time on that course than I did before. Besides when you factor in all the extenuating circumstances (and of course no one else’s) you get a substantially faster time (and thus a higher place). So technically, I believe I may have quite possibly hit all of my goals if you appropriately adjust my time due to the following 10 factors:
1. I have two small children one of whom was throwing a minor fit about not being able to run the race herself and the other who apparently ate one of every pair of her shoes to deal with before the race.
2. It was hot but only in the places where I was running at the exact time I was running through them which is why it didn’t effect anyone else.
3. Since it was so hot, I was forced to run shirtless with only a sports bra exposing my blindingly white seldomly seen bare belly to the entire world. Besides being virtually unable to see from the glow, I also had to suffer the humiliation that comes along with running belly free in a shy belly body.
4. I got bit by a weird bug this week and it was certainly not a performance enhancing insect. (Really I did).
5. I forgot my hat. You might as well of cut off one of my limbs. It’s that serious.
6. My baby cried when I ran by her near the finish. No, wait…that might have made me run away faster. (Did I say away? I meant run faster to finish sooner. You know, so I could take care of her. Yeah, yeah, that’s definitely what I meant).
7. I got a little stain on my Iron Goddess shirt that I didn’t end up wearing. (It was the trauma of the stain).
9. Did I mention the politician?
10. My bib pins were different sizes. I was horribly unbalanced.
So all things considered. I’m going with the average pace my watch indicated (because it’s a cheap watch and the .1 was averaged in equally. See why I don’t get a Garmin?) and that would be a 6:17 min/mile pace. So technically, I won the women’s race. It’s astounding how quickly I’ve progressed isn’t it? One might almost call it absurd. Oh look, someone agrees…
P.S. Place your bets how long exactly that head will remain on my priceless trophy. “I just love her. She’s so cute.” Bobble bobble. My daughter really wanted me to take a movie of her bobbling that poor runner girl’s head as fast as she could to show you all. I’m pretty sure if the race officials knew the fate that awaited this award before they handed it out, they would have skewed the results in a humanitarian effort.
P.P.S. Yes, I AM entering my daughter in a race. Wood Duck Dash 1/2 Mile Fun Run in August, I do believe is the winner. And it is totally and completely only going to be all about her that day. Pretty sure she’ll be expecting her own bobble head when she crosses the finishline though. Wonder if they have any extras?
P.P.P.S One more day to get into the giveaway for the Ryders sunglasses. Don’t miss it! Click here to enter.