Not happy with my race today. At. All. You know that Wall? I hit that sucker hard, and it hit me right back.
Last Wednesday, we had snow showers. Today in Syracuse, the temperature was in the high '70's, and humid, it felt more like July than the 2nd of May. I watched the news tonight about the Mountain Goat 10 miler, and they called the race "grueling." Just setting the stage for you.
I was pumped for today. I was perfectly hydrated, was up early, but not early enough, because Luke and Eliza were up shortly after me. The weekends when I run early, I'm used to having the downstairs to myself, so I can stretch, caffeinate, and watch the news in peace. I was running around a bit getting them fed while getting myself ready, I had to ask Mike to feed me a few bites of banana and peanut butter toast so I could get outside in time to meet my friend/neighbor Heather since we were riding to the race together.
We made it downtown, where we met up with my sis in law Jeannine, friends Norine, Suzanne, and Karin, chat with Bill and Aunt Carol, then my friend Kelly, then meet up with the Lake Effect crew. It was hot, but I wore my LE tech shirt, along with hat and sunglasses, and had a bag of sports beans as my security blanket. I was good, and left my ipod at home, although I saw plenty of people with earbuds, even though they weren't officially allowed. I wasn't really nervous, just ready to get this thing started.
The gun went off at 10:15, and I crossed the start line at 10:17. No joke, a quarter of a mile in, I felt a crampy/stitch in my left side. But it went away almost as fast as it showed up, and I settled into a 10 minute pace. About a mile in, a woman named Ann ran up to me, and said she's seen me at all the training runs, and that she paces herself along with me. We chatted until we reached the first series of inclines, which I was able to do pretty easily. It took me exactly 20 minutes to get to the 2 mile mark. After those hills were done, the course went through a residential area, where some people had their sprinklers on which felt lovely.
I guess around mile 4.5 I slowed down a bit, I wanted to save my energy for the next killer hill. I chomped on some sports beans, and was looking forward to some water.....first lesson, I will not run this course again without a water bottle. There were issues with the supply of paper cups, and I thought they could use a few more water stations. At mile five, there were zero cups left, one dude poured water from a gallon jug into my mouth, another poured water over my head, which made me look like I had wet myself, but whatever. The hardest hill of the race, E. Colvin street was coming up, so I had other things to worry about.
This hill is a looooong incline, and at the end it turns into a very sharp incline. I ran it once during a training run, and it was hard, but I did it. There were a lot of people walking, but I really didn't want to, so I trudged up, not sure if I was running slow or walking fast but I was doing it. I was almost to the top, and a woman yelled "you're almost there #123, you're doing it!" Thanks to the numbers and words of encouragement that were written on the road in chalk, I knew I had 200 meters left. At that's when the stitch came back. And. I. Walked. And I hit The Wall.
I hit the wall one other time, at the 11 mile point of my half marathon last fall. But I got through it, I never stopped, or walked. I don't know if it was the heat or the incline, but once I got to the top of Colvin, I walked. I had zero motivation. I was by myself, no ipod (worst race ever to test out running without music), and I was ready to just walk off and go home. I walked off the cramp, and shuffled along, then thought, F*&k it. Walked. I fought with myself like this for the whole of mile seven. I tried to forget it was a race, and to think of it as a training run (where I never walked once), no dice. Walk, run. Walk, run. Then I started to notice sirens, and a guy laying on the side of the road with an oxygen tube in his nose, and paramedics were loading a girl onto a stretcher. People were having a hard time with this race. There was an ambulance parked, and another one pulled up, then a cop ran out to say that there were four more people who were out up ahead. That was the kick I needed. I was a bit down, but definitely not out.
I started up again near the end of mile seven, looking for some water, but only saw ice. I spoke with some people who were asking about my shirt, and then a girl ran up and said "nice job on Colvin #123! I watched you run up that!" I told her I was paying for it now, as we started up the last nasty hill, which I walked part of. All of a sudden it was mile 8.
Spoke with another woman who said for last years race it was 50 degrees, so this was a huge change. Mile 9 went by. I recognized a girl, K, from our running group, who I know does triathlons. I felt so much better about my run, thinking about what her fitness level is, and that she was finishing up the same time as me. She said she wasn't having the best race, but we were almost done. She told me to keep moving, and then I saw Mike and the kids, and Karin. Like the graceful runner that I am, I lumbered over to them, hugged and tried to kiss them, but mostly sucked in some O2, then went on. I saw the balloons of the finish line, and I wanted to pop them. I counted in my head the last 100 meters just to get there, and finally finished.
It took me a long ass time, my first five miles were 52:06, the last five were 56:06. It doesn't pain me as much to look at the times when it's split like that.
Later on, Mike told us about how many people were dropping at the finish. They had lines of cots to lay people out on until they could get enough stretchers and enough ambulances. Not a pretty sight, I'm hoping everyone who was ill is better now.
Ten minutes after I finished, I bitched and moaned to everyone who would listen, then I was done. My mood improved over some Michelob Ultra at the after party, then improved much more later on at Norine's house. She made some killer pizza topped with fontina, ricotta, asparagus and spring onion, paired with a beautiful salad with all sorts of veggies. I ate that, and some cheese pizza. And a burger. And J's tomato/mozz/basil salad. And washed it down with a couple of refreshing Nine Irons (cranberry, fresca and vodka).
When we got home, the kids showed me the sign they made for me, and Eliza ran up and down the deck playing "race," slapping hands of her imaginary friends as she ran by them, and holding up signs. Mike said, "I think someone's Mommy made a very good impression on them today." You can guess how that made me feel.
The race is done for this year, but I'll get that Goat next year, and make some cheese out of him.