Sprint for Monroe Race Recap

The race was 12 days ago.  I know, I know.  It’s been so hard to sit down and piece this one together.  Because I not only organized this race and also ran it, I have been putting off putting something down in the blog because there is So Much To Say.  But if I don’t get something down I probably never will, so I figured this morning with a half an hour of free time I could get something on the blog.

So much goes into organizing a race that participants never see.  Calling up local businesses to get donations.  Designing a logo.  A brochure.  Getting it printed.  Arranging for items to go into race bags.  Getting sponsor logos for shirts.  Press releases.  Marketing.  Social media.  Ordering and picking up trophies. Budgeting.  Picking up the mail from a PO Box.  I do all of these things, with a some help from a committee.  I start in January and the work isn’t done until weeks after the race.

The whole week before the race is always a blur of activity.  It finally rounds out to the last twenty four hours before the race, where this year I began panicking over the weather forecast.  We had a record number of preregistered runners and volunteers lined up, only to see showers and thunderstorms in the forecast.  Still, we had to plan for the race, so my group and I went to the local park (which fortunately is half a mile from where I live) and loaded in over a thousand bottles of water, nearly a thousand filled race bags, fruit, muffins, cookies and boxes upon boxes of race shirts.  It took us two hours and I won’t mention how many beers.

My garage 24 hours before race day.

My garage 24 hours before race day.

Surprisingly I slept well enough the night before, probably because I hadn’t slept at all the previous few nights.  I woke around 5, as we needed to be at the park by 6am to set up registration.  I couldn’t believe my luck to see this:

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The forecast had adjusted slightly pushing the stormy weather back until later in the day.  I couldn’t believe my luck.  All I needed was to get to 11am with a minimal amount of rain.

I made it to the park by 6 to find one of my committee already there.  In a matter of forty minutes we transformed the picnic area into a race bonanza:  registration, food, water, tents for yoga, massage and other business providers.  This is always a major blur to me as I try to delegate everything and supervise.  I mostly point people in the directions they need to go and make sure no one looks lost or upset.  By 8am everyone was in place and everything was running smoothly. I went to watch the kids’ race get started and then my palms started to get sweaty about running my own race.

I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of what amounts to essentially, my entire town.  I’m a slow runner on a good day, and our course is not an easy one.  I’d been practicing the course but the day had dawned warm and humid in advance of the coming rain.  My best time still is slower than most everyone I know.  Which any other day doesn’t bother me but on this day?  I got nervous.  I went back into our race committee area and changed into my running clothes alone, trying to talk myself out of quitting.

Once I’d changed out of my race director shirt and into regular running clothes, I told myself to treat it like any other race.  I’d practiced the course enough to know where I could push and where I’d have to back off.  I walked up to the starting line, filled with 860 other people, and worked my way quietly to the back, high fiving people I knew all along the way.

We pride ourselves on a punctual start time, and this race was no different.  I heard the gun go off, I tapped my RunKeeper Start Activity button and meandered my way to the start mat.

There’s something amazing about our race that I don’t really see at a lot of races I do.  The start line was filled with townspeople cheering us on.  I mean normally you have some but there had to be fifty or sixty people lining the course up until the first turn just going nuts.  I waved and smiled, taking it all in.

Our course starts off mostly downhill so I went with the flow to find my pace.  Surprisingly I passed people like football players and forty something guys who play a lot of soccer.  That’s because a lot of people do this race who don’t run regularly.  I found my groove and easily went through the first mile, which is my normal running route.  It was warm but I was holding my own.

During the second mile you hit a few uphills, nothing huge, but on a warm day, they are noticeable.  I slowed a bit and worked on my pacing.  I picked off a few more people I knew, which felt good. Before long we were making the turn to our water stop, which sits at mile 2.  I was starting to feel the heat, but told myself I’d stop and walk through the stop and so I kept on going.

Right after the water stop is the hilliest section of the course.  It is a slow up hill that rounds out on one hill, flattens and then curves towards an even bigger hill.  If you don’t know the course, you think you’re done after the first hill, but then the second one hits you and you are toast if you blew it all out on the first hill.  I’ve been practicing these hills for weeks.  But the heat and humidity changed the game and I did have to walk some of it.  I passed another friend on the way and spotted a few more up ahead as I got to the top.

Right after the hill it flattens out and is pretty flat for the last half mile.  But it’s also in full sun, so it isn’t an easy slog.  Still, I surprised myself with enough stamina to keep going at a reasonable pace.  Before long I could hear the crowd at the finish, before I could even see it.

The last .1 mile of our race is all downhill.  You crest this little hill and then you can just see it all laying out there before you.  At this point I broke into the biggest, goofiest smile.  It was just amazing.  I knew I’d run a good race, I’d experienced the entire course as every participant did, and I knew all the hard work I’d put into it had paid off.  There were easily another 50 or so people cheering at the finish, including our town mayor.  He high fived me as I passed and I sailed through the finish, out of breath but completely thrilled.

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Me, smiling at the end of my race. I didn’t assign myself the number, either…my race committee went behind my back and did it. I would have never, ever worn it otherwise.

Once I finished, I ran for a bottle of water and immediately tried to cool down.  I had an idea of time, but had no idea how far back I’d been at the race start, so I couldn’t tell what it would be.  Had I checked my email (a thought that I never had at the time) I would have found that within minutes of finishing, I had an email with my time in it:  36:12.  For my course, in that weather,  this was an amazing time.  For comparison’s sake, when I did this race 3 years ago, I finished it at 38:24.

But there was no time to think about any of that.  I had to get ready for awards, which I wanted to start shortly after ten, and it was already nearly 9:40.  I had to get my body to stop sweating, change back into my clothes without soaking them, and put back on my race director face.

Fortunately, one of my volunteers brought me a snow cone that the local football team was passing out.  That helped.  A full bottle of water also helped.  Eventually I peeled off my clothes, got a makeup wipe and kept dabbing, and put on dry clothes.  I didn’t bother with my hair; I put back on a hat and hoped for the best.

It took a bit to get everything for the awards settled with our timer, but eventually we did and we started awards at 10:15.  I made a thank you speech, forgetting one of my committee members and a few others (next year I will make a list).  Then I handed it off to my partner and settled in to hand out trophies.

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Me, handing out trophies. Next year I will definitely wear different shorts.

Once awards were over, the crowd thinned out amazingly fast.  It was time to get everything cleaned up and get the park back to its usual setup for picnics and summer fun.  A small group of us cleaned up what was left behind, packed up what needed to be stored for next year, and took care of all of the money.  Fortunately, the kids that work at the park helped out a lot, and we were mostly done by 12 or so.  Good thing, as the raindrops just started as we were getting ready to leave.

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Taken just before the rain started after everything was packed in our cars.

And suddenly, all of the hours and hours of work that no one ever sees were done.  Of course there was more to do; I had to unload at home, turn in the money to the bank, and I still have some follow up on a few things.  But in that moment, the hard work was done, the rain had stayed away, and most everything had gone exactly as it should.

It was a long, exhausting day, but I have to say, there is nothing like running your own race, literally.  I’m proud of the group we have and the race we put on.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to run it again next year, but I am hoping I can.  It was just an amazing feeling.

Plus I’d really like to beat my time.  🙂

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About mostlyforward

Somewhere on the journey to a better life, depending on the day...moving (mostly) forward.

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