I love racing SO MUCH.
Here are my Top-5 Reasons That Racing Rules:
- It's the only way I can run at my top pace. No matter what I do, I just can't seem to reach race pace in my training runs. I need the pressure and competition from the others around me to push me harder. I always amaze myself at races and walk away proud as hell.
- I love meeting other runners. Part of the reason I keep this blog is because I don't have any runner-buddies in real life! At races, I get to talk shop with other people who share my passion and insanity for running.
- I'm a sucker for donating to charities. I don't have a lot of money to give, being a poor law student, but races give me an excuse to fork out the cash and support charities and causes I love.
- I love swag. I'll admit it. Part of the reason I love racing is to get the free stuff they offer afterwards. I love the exposure to new products and gear.
- It's such a rush! I'd do it everyday just for high alone. Finishing races is a adrenaline and endorphin rush like none other.
Now, on to the race! I had to wake up at the crack of dawn to get there. It's not that it was too far away--just 20 miles or so--but I like to get to races super-early because I'm always paranoid that I'm going to get lost or that I won't be able to find it. Jeff didn't want to get up at 5:30 to come with me (naturally!), so he gave me the keys to his car and told me to have fun. I had planned on taking the train there, but taking Jeff's car took about 30 minutes off of my transit time. You may remember from this post that I don't own a car or regularly drive.
I ate a bagel with peanut butter in the car and guzzled Gatorade, as per usual. The ride up there was a few minutes longer than I had expected, but I still got to the race site in plenty of time. I took some pictures with my new Blackberry to amuse myself for awhile.
It was pretty overcast, and the cloud cover was a god-send during the race!
While waiting at the starting line for the race to start, I chatted with a guy standing next to me who had run two marathons last month. He noticed my Garmin and asked what pace I was shooting for. I laughed and said that I just hoped I could average 10-minute miles and that speed wasn't my thing. He said that he felt the same because of just running the marathons. Then, we all started running.
Remember when I ran my first race in April, and I said that one of things I did wrong was run too fast in the first mile? I totally did that again! When I passed the first mile marker, the staffer calling out times yelled 8.8 as I passed! What on earth was I doing to myself?
I started to run out of a steam a bit when I reached the aid station at mile 1.5. I walked a bit after the aid station, talking myself into running again and reminding myself that I had permission to slow down.
I had to convince myself that no one was judging me. That's hard to do. I'm incredibly susceptible to peer pressure, and I was now in a pace group that was a bit out of my league.
I walked a bit more, and then got back to running, trying to ignore what was going on around me. At the second mile marker I hit my stride, and I maintained a pleasant 10-minute mile pace through the rest of the race. That's still much faster than I run in training, but it felt good on the course.
Starting at the second mile marker, some amazing things happened that reminded me why I love this sport:
- First, once I hit my comfortable pace, I was so happy! By that, I mean I was instantly in a good mood. I remembered to smile at everyone, and I thanked all the policeman who were holding traffic as we passed through. I chitchatted with the runners around me, and I sang to myself. I was just happy!
- Second, a guy passed me at the third mile marker and thanked me for pacing the group for the last mile, which covered a couple pretty lengthy climbs. My heart swelled so big! He said that some of them were struggling with the hills, and it was inspiring to have someone in front of them who going up them strong. I turned around and three runners gave me thumbs-up. I almost cried.
- Third, after the guy thanked me, I sprinted up to thank the guy who I had been (inadvertently) pacing me, and he asked me if I wanted to chat and finish the race together! More heart-swelling! We talked about my calk compression sleeves, the necessity of anti-chafing cream, and other nonsense, and then we crossed together at 38:50!
I grabbed a banana, a bagel, and some water, and I wandered around the finish area a bit.
This was the first time I actually felt like a legitimate runner, like I belonged in this group. People walked up to me left and right to talk about Team in Training (I was wearing one of the shirts) and about my Zensah compression sleeves (I was wearing those, too--I swear by them!). When I went to a local running store's tent, they wanted my advice on different products and gave me all kinds of free stuff that they weren't giving others. I felt like a rock star!
All in all, it was an amazing event. I felt so good that I woke up and ran again this morning!
After the Magnolia Run, Jeff and I walked down the street from his place to the Reynoldstown Wheelbarrow Festival. Definitely one of my favorite neighborhood festivals! It was small, but it had so much heart. I really love Reynoldstown. I have an addiction to developing communities.
We were serenaded by local celebrity General Larry Platt of "Pants on the Ground" fame.
And, I got the best post-run snack ever: Mango Italian ice. YUM.
Hope all of you are having awesome weekends, too!