Mother’s Day 10K Recap
The Reader’s Digest version of this race is that it started out slow, felt hard during and fantastic afterwards.
Got up before 6am this morning for the race; start time was 8am, but I wanted to get there early to put the race brochures from our 5K on the registration table. I was fine until I got to the race site, which was settled on a lovely local beach on Long Island Sound.
It was cold, rainy and registration wasn’t even set up yet even though I arrived 15 minutes after it was supposed to have started. It was not even 7am and I thought: it’s freaking Mother’s Day and here I am all alone in this parking lot with a bunch of strangers getting wet. What was I thinking?
Not to mention driving in past the mile markers. Um, 6.2 miles is not nothing. My head was not in the game, let’s just say that. I was worried about my lack of running mojo lately and thought about just packing it in and driving back home.
But then I saw the race shirt:
And if that wasn’t motivation enough, I saw my friend who was in Boston that day. He was here, running, his first race post Boston. How on earth could I not give this race a shot when there are people who, after that day, would give anything to be able to run, walk or shuffle through a 10K?
The rain continued on. I decided to take the guys up who had come to give people pre and post race massages. They didn’t have any takers in the rain. But I was already wet, so who cared? It was wwwonnnderful and got my head right in the game again.
With just a few minutes left until start time, I waited with the other runners under awnings. The more experienced told me this was mostly to keep our feet dry until it was time to start, because obviously no one cares about getting wet during race; you get soaked with sweat anyway.
Finally it was time. I lined up well in the back, looking for people that looked like me. Not too many at a 10K. Oh well.
The race started and the rain stopped. I found myself well behind the herd, as per usual. I started with a manageable pace and tried to just keep it steady. The first mile was no problem. I found myself weaving back and forth with a woman in orange. Her strategy was to run as fast as she could for a while, and then walk. We kept passing each other.
The second mile, and the rain was definitely gone, though I was being careful with my footing because of the slippery, wet roads. By this time I could still see the herd but they were well beyond me. At this point I was wondering where the water stop was, and it thankfully showed up just a bit after the 2 mile mark.
By the third mile, I was starting to get discouraged. While I could still spot a few people in front of me, I worried I would lose my way. I was in an unfamiliar area, and the herd was long gone now. Just about four or five stragglers ahead of me. I still had such a long way to go.
The fourth mile was probably the hardest. This was where the one decent sized hill was. I walked it. There was another water stop. I walked it. I was catching up with a few of the stragglers in front of me as their energy flagged. That felt good, but I was definitely getting tired.
By the time I hit the fifth mile, I recognized where I was; we were looping back towards the beach on the route I’d driven in on. I walked a bit and started to feel a bit better, knowing I was in the homestretch. I passed a fairly athletic looking guy, and then caught up with a woman who had been solidly ahead of me the whole way.
We hit the final stretch towards the beach, and I dropped to a walk for a bit to finish strong. I saw the woman in orange about a minute ahead of me. I guess her strategy worked. She, and the end of the race, looked so incredibly far away. I still couldn’t see the timing device. Finally, I forced myself to do the “looks like walking, feels like running” slow jog for the rest of the way.
Just after the final turn, where the park staff guy assured me I was “almost there”, I saw the timing device, and my family waiting for me. And I felt that burst of energy everyone who runs knows about when you’re near the end. You don’t know how you’ve got it in you after six miles and change, but somehow, you do. I ran for the finish line as fast as I could muster.
I mustered enough energy to wave at the family, smile and push towards the end.
Still waiting on the final times, but I am pretty sure I shaved off a few seconds from my 10K time in January of 79:22. Not as many seconds as I would like, because this route was flatter, but I’ll take it just the same. I think it will end up being around 79:15 or so (update: my official time was 79:10).
Afterwards, I recovered quickly. I saw my friend, who probably finished half an hour before me, and felt a little embarrassed when he asked me how it went. Here he was, a marathoner who placed third in his age category in this race. I must look like a bumbling fool to him, I thought. “Harder than I thought it would be,” I answered honestly.
“You’re here, you finished,” he said encouragingly. “That’s all that matters.”
Excellent point. Very excellent point. I finished, I wasn’t last, and I felt fine just a few minutes after.
I think maybe I found some of that lost running mojo out there today. Maybe just a little bit.
But sometimes, a little bit is enough.