I will not lie to you. I was really dreading this race. Up until now, I had not run more than five miles since early October 2010. My training has been pretty spotty, and I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself at all. The only reason I (a) signed up and (b) didn’t flake is because this is the only race I have done every year since I started running. I did the 5K in 2007 before they eliminated that distance (and when the bridges were the Steel and Broadway, I think…that was a long time ago), and have done the 10K every year since.
Yesterday, I did a trail run to help celebrate Zach’s birthday, and while it was super awesome (who doesn’t like to celebrate by running up hill and getting muddy?), I was disheartened a bit. I took a LOT of walk breaks, and after stopping to walk around mile one, a couple of old ladies that I’d been leapfrogging with said to me, “don’t worry! some day you’ll be able to keep running, and then you’ll just spend all your time on the trails.” Obviously, I killed them and hid their bodies in a ravine.
After the murder, though, I didn’t even want to keep running. I really was purposely taking it easy to keep my legs semi-fresh for today, but it didn’t feel like taking it easy; it felt like I couldn’t have kept running even if I’d wanted to.
I have no idea how long the 4.3 miles yesterday took me. I, for the first time in my running career, had no timekeeping device with me. It was weird.
ANYWAYS – After the run and mimosas and prizes, I headed to Foot Traffic to pick up my race packet. I was dreading this. Last year I waited in line for over an hour (behind a couple really bitchy women), and hated everyone by the time I was done. I was prepared for the same kind of situation.
Instead, I showed up, waited in line for approximately 1.5 minutes, got my packet and my shirt, and was on my way home. Very confusing.
This morning, I got up about 7, showered, got dressed, drank my coffee, choked down a crust of bread with PB on it, and headed to MAX. I got to the start line about 8:20 (I love races that don’t start at the buttcrack of dawn), and realized that I was still carrying my coffee cup. My favorite travel cup. I wasn’t about to wait in line for 30 minutes to bagcheck a cup, so I put it down on a table & hoped for the best.
It was a really pleasant morning. I wore capris, a tank top and a long sleeved shirt & had a pair of running gloves.
The start went really well – everyone seemed to have lined up appropriately – I didn’t have to dodge groups of walkers or lots of strollers, and the wave start went really smoothly.
The first mile goes from Widmer Brothers up to the Fremont Bridge, and is a bit of a climb if you’re not warmed up. I just did the best I could and just kept chugging away. Mile two goes back down the Fremont Bridge, and this is the point that I contemplate DNF every year. This year I finally figured out why. As you’re running back towards the south and start the downhill climb, the road has a significant camber, which really put a lot of uneven pressure on my lower legs. Once I figured out WHY I wanted to quit in that same spot every year, it was easy to keep going.
I kept setting goals for myself…”once you get to mile 1, you can stop and walk for a minute,” and I’d get to mile 1 and feel okay – so I’d decide the walk break would be at 15 minutes; then 2 miles, then 30 minutes, then 3 miles, then 4.
Mile 1: 10:46
Mile 2: 10:19
Mile 3: 9:57
With the exception of the water station by mile 3, I didn’t stop even a little bit in the first half. In fact, I hit the 5K split at about 32 minutes, which is faster than my recent 5K time, so yay!
Mile 4 was definitely short. I heard a lot of people express the same opinion when we ran by, so it wasn’t just me. I’d just walked through a water stop, but when I got to mile 4, short or not, I decided to take my first walk break. I had just run four (more or less) continuous miles – the first time that had happened in ages. Four miles in a row. With no walk breaks (water stops don’t count, because I didn’t walk more than a few steps – just long enough to grab a cup & drink it down).
I was pretty pleased with myself at that point, and after a 2 minute walk break, I promised my legs that they could walk again at mile 5.
The course was a wee bit different this year – we started a little closer to the Fremont Bridge, which meant all the mile markers were just a little further down the course than I was expecting.
The mile 5 marker, instead of being at the bottom of the Broadway Bridge was midway up the uphill part of the run. The bridge looks deceptively low, but anyone who’s done this race (or Race for the Roses) will tell you that this close to the end of the race, the last thing you want is to run up a bridge approach.
So many people stopped to walk here. I have never stopped on this part of the run before, but I was starting to feel the 2.25 hours of yoga on Friday + the trail run yesterday. And then, I saw her. My nemesis. The girl I’d been watching get further and further away the whole run. The girl with the Boston jacket.
So I just kept going.
Mile 4 (short): 9:17
Mile 5: 11:01 (I kept going, although not quickly, also I think Mile 5 was a bit long to make up for Mile 4).
Finally, I was over the bridge. And I did my best to smile pretty for the photographers – I hope I look like I’m having fun and not like I’m dying with a scary grimace on my face.
The next bit isn’t too bad. You’re over the bridge & in the home stretch.
And then – there’s the end of the race. You have to leave Interstate Ave & run back up to the start.
Due to the slight course change this year, that meant that instead of running uphill one block to Russell and then turning & running across the finish line in a block and a half, it was three blocks before the turn. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it sure as hell felt like a lot! Mile 6 doesn’t happen until after the uphill bit started again, so you can’t even say, “less than .2 miles to go!” when you start uphill.
BUT – eventually, I made it. Obviously.
Mile 6: 10:56
Mile 6.2: 1:55 (9:35 pace)
Overall – 1:04:14 (official) with a 10:21 pace.
My only goal was to beat last year’s time, which I did with 7 seconds to spare. Considering that I’m just recovering from an injury instead of just getting injured (in the midst of marathon training), I’ll take that time.
My toes are killing me now – my foot is longer than it used to be, and the downhill parts just mashed my toes. I replaced my trail shoes recently for the same reason, and will have to do the same now with my regular running shoes (I’m in a size 7 running shoe, people! SCARY CLOWN FEET!).
But – I feel good. I didn’t feel like waiting in the long beer/food lines (that was the only part of this year’s experience that seemed worse than last year’s), so I grabbed a root beer (no line for that!), found my coffee cup (it was still there!) bought a super cute tank top, and headed home.
I didn’t get any pictures, and it’s the first time since I met all my running buddies in Portland that I was the only one of us to do a race, but I had a great time, overall. The only bad? No pictures!
Seriously. Six point two miles, the first four run w/o a break.
I’m back, bitches.