Okay, so technically I still have not entered and finished a 5k. The General was quick to point this out to me Saturday afternoon on our drive down to Bloomington for opening Stupid Race Weekend festivities. However, I was just as quick to explain to him that I was, in fact, going to run the required 3.1 miles of a 5K plus another 1.9 miles - in sweltering heat and bright, blinding morning sun - so, yes, I will most certainly count this as a check mark toward Ye Old Bucket List.
Do you want to know what makes a stupid idea even more stupid? Being required to wake up at 5 am in order to make it on time to the stupid event. My early morning wake-up was quite painful, perhaps the most painful part of the entire day. I spent my morning carefully hydrating, eating a very light breakfast, and then stretching to the point of delirium. My mom offered to keep the girls home with her all morning, kindly handing over her self-proclaimed title as my biggest cheerleader to The General who graciously gave up valuable sleep time in order to brave heat and humidity to support me on the sidelines. His pre-race pep talks were half-helpful, half-hilarious.
I knew going into this race that the group of us running together were probably a little under prepared when compared to the majority of runners who would join us on race day. Seeing runners warming up by running at a pace faster than I knew I would be able to achieve and sustain during the actual race 2 MILES OUTSIDE OF THE PARK was more than a little unsettling. Once at the park, I was not comforted any further by the large number of people running before the race. Once upon a time 14 years and 20 pounds ago, I would have been one of those crazy fools running to warm-up. Now, I am in the solid "I will stretch and fret and proclaim the stupidity of this decision until the race begins" camp.
Insert: favorite moment of the day. The General and I were stationed at the entrance to the Miller Park Zoo waiting the arrival of the rest of our group. I was stretching my calves for at least the 15th time, not so silently worrying about how intense other runners appeared. At one moment I looked to my left and noticed a group of people casually walking toward to park pavilion. My immediate response was one of relief as I thought to myself, "Oh, thank God, not everyone is Olympic caliber athletes running to warm-up". As soon as the thought entered my head I suddenly heard the distinct laugh of Jill, my friend and fellow runner. I then zeroed in on the faces of the people in the group and laughed when I realized that the casual group of walkers was, in fact, my running partners. It felt good to be surrounded by like minded individuals.
After even more stretching, checking of iPods, and a few more declarations of the absolute stupidity of us running this race, we moved with the herd of people toward the start line. About a minute after the playing of the National Anthem, the stampede was on.
I will admit that already the race details are a little hazy. I think the combination of excessive heat, lack of oxygen, dehydration, and just being "in the zone" is to blame for clarity. Here are the high/lowlights by mile:
Mile One: Miller Park stinks and as as result is not conducive to proper breathing. Also, people are serious about getting a quick start. The first mile moved quickly and I was super stoked when I saw the first mile marker. At the end of Mile One I was feeling physically and mentally fantastic.
Mile Two: The first of several hills quickly appeared going into the second mile. I made the quick decision to "attack the hills" and felt like freakin' Rocky when I got to the top. By this point in the race I was already sweating profusely. Despite the intense heat, I was still feeling great. My legs felt strong, breathing was even, and the shouting of split times confirmed that I was right on target with my pace.
Mile Three: This was perhaps the highpoint of the race for me. I knew all along that family and friends would be waiting at the Kroger located in the third mile of the race. That was enough motivation to keep me going and seeing them positioned at the bottom of a hill lifted my spirits and pushed me onward. However, it was in the third mile that I started having problems with keeping my ears buds properly inserted due to the copious amounts of sweat I was producing. Also, I believe I started hallucinating during portions of the third mile, smelling the distinct aroma of fresh baked cinnamon rolls.
Mile Four: I won't lie. Thoughts of quitting started to eat at my brain. More and more people around me began walking. The relentless sun messed with my determination. My iPod playlist was not providing the right inspiration. I don't even know what we ran by in the fourth mile. I do know that I finally broke down and grabbed a drink at the final checkpoint, mistakenly grabbing gross lemon-lime Gatorade and splashing it almost everywhere but my mouth. Tossing that cup to the curb without breaking stride did make me feel a little bad ass though.
Mile Five: To this point I had run the entire distance, but after a particularly intense incline I had to let myself walk. I slowed to a walk for all of ten seconds before I thought to myself, "What are you doing? You can DO this!". So I began running again. I found a comfortable stride, set my sights on the people ahead of me turning into Fairview Park, and got back into the zone. Turning into the park, I saw the blue marker of the finish line and I turned it loose. Long strides, arms pumping, all out. Call me a "trackoff" but dang, it felt good.
Final time: 49 minutes, 42.1 seconds. Goal achieved.
My running group also did fan-freaking-tastic. Coach ran so quickly by our group of cheerleaders that The General was barely able to get his picture as he blazed by. A very impressive time of 38 minutes on minimal "practicing" makes me hate him a little bit.
Clark is the only person I know who will admit to how hard that day's race felt all the while having a smile on his face. Thanks for the great post-race lunch, Clark!
The Commissioner flexed his veteran muscle at yesterday's race, showing up in last year's race t-shirt. Great run, Commish!
Doc gets several race day awards in my book: Biggest Cheerleader, Best Smile, Most Enthusiastic. Thank you for hosting a great event, Doc!
It was mentioned that Warhol takes amazing sports action shots, being referred to as "swift" and "dramatic" as you can clearly see in the first picture. From the second picture, maybe not so much. Still, Warhol definitely wins "Best Finish". A real nail biter, right to the bitter end.
How cute is Team Duffy? Running the whole race side by side is about as sweet as it gets.
Here she comes, the whole reason I got into this mess of Stupid Race Weekend in the first place. Tru Stories finished strong despite her fear of suffering a massive heat stroke and looked great doing it. Madonna would be so proud of you, Tru Stories.
And then there was our Little Munchkin That Could. First, I thought there was no way she was going to show up for Stupid Race Weekend. Then I figured she'd not make an appearance on race day. Right before the start of the race I figured she'd duck out with The General for a sideline seat, laughing at all the rest of us as we struggled past. But Munchkin made doubters into believers, finishing all five miles with a huge smile on her face. You may not be able to move today, Munchkin, but I've never been more proud of you.
Thanks to all of you who cheered from the sidelines, sent supportive emails, offered encouraging words, texted great advice, and sent out positive thoughts. We couldn't have done it without you.
It was definitely a stupid idea, but is anyone interested in running a 5k with me on August 14th at Evergreen Lake in scenic Comlara Park? I printed out the registration form today and can get you a copy ASAP.