Saturday, May 15, 2010

I'd like to thank the Academy...

...and my coaches, and my husband, and my fellow runners, my friends and family for helping to make this possible. I couldn't have won this award without you!

*crowd mutters confusedly* Wait. What award? You won an award?

Why yes! Yes I did!

An Oscar???

Well, not exactly.... More of an athletic award.

So you won a race?

In a manner of speaking...

But, we didn't even know you were running a race today!

Um. Well. Me either. Let me explain...

I woke up bright and early this morning with every intention of doing an easy 10 mile run. I ate my oatmeal, banana and green tea. I got all my long run clothes and supplies assembled. And I left the house around 7:20am to head over to The Tower so I could run in my usual long run area (Grandview, Bishop Hill, etc). When I got to the Tower, I noticed there were quite a few cars in the parking lot. That was rather unusual. As I was walking toward the tower, I noticed an awful lot of people milling about, and upon closer inspection, they were all wearing race number bibs. Huh. A race. Interesting...

I texted my husband to tell him there was a race going on, and he replied "Run it and win your age group!" HAHAHA - he's so funny! I've never come close to winning anything in a race. But I was definitely tempted to run it. My watch said it was 7:52am, and I assumed the race probably started at 8:00. Plenty of time! So I moseyed over to the registration desk, where a lady was packing up everything into a box, and asked "Is it too late to register?" She gave me a look of slight disbelief, but quickly opened up her box and pulled out a registration form for me. I got all signed up and pinned on my race number (106, which I think means that 106 people ran this race, since I was surely the last one to register) with just a few minutes to spare. Everyone headed across the street to the starting line.

As it turned out, the race was to be run on scenic Grandview Drive, where I was going to be running anyway. The course was a simple out-and-back. Having run Grandview a million times, I knew that going out-and-back is anything but simple. It's mostly downhill going out, and therefore mostly uphill coming back. This was going to be a fairly difficult 5k course. Perhaps more difficult than the Susan G Komen Race For The Cure course. Well, I do have a tendency to pick hilly races...

So the race started and off we went. I knew better than to think I'd actually run this at a training run pace. I pretty much gave it everything I had from the get-go. Maybe, just maybe, I could place in my age group. The race was small, which gave me the best opportunity to win an award. Small race = less competition. I knew I was in a particularly difficult age group, though (30-34, where many of the fastest runners are). As we approached the turnaround point on the course, I got to see all the runners who were ahead of me, and in my mind, I was estimating their ages, trying to get a feel for my odds. But my oxygen-starved brain couldn't figure out my own age, let alone anyone else's age, and I soon realized my mental calculations were futile. I was able to come up with just enough neural connectivity to determine that I should just stop thinking and keep running.

And so I ran. And it was uphill. A LOT of uphill. There was a boy, about 12 years old, in a bright yellow shirt in front of me. I kept my eyes on his shirt. He pulled me along. But then he started walking on the uphills. I couldn't walk. If I walked, I wouldn't be able to start running again. So I passed the boy in the yellow shirt. And he didn't like that one bit. He sprinted ahead of me. Then he realized he couldn't hold it, so he walked again. And again, I passed him. And again, he got huffy and sprinted past me. I guess he didn't want to get beat by a girl. As we rounded the corner and the finish line was in sight, I could tell the boy was starting to die off again. So I mustered up enough energy to say "You're doing great kid. You're almost to the finish. Keep going!" And with that, he gave me a polite "Thanks" and took off like a rocket. Sometimes that's all we need... just a word of encouragement.

I didn't have any of that rocket fuel in me after running up those hills, but I pushed as much as I could. Pretty soon, I could make out the numbers on the race clock. 25:54... 55... 56... 57... Wow, this would be a huge improvement over my 5k last weekend! I sprinted for the finish. 26:05... 26.:06... 26:07... DONE!

My PR from Race For The Cure last weekend lasted all of 7 days. And then I smashed it pieces. How I managed to take over 2 minutes off that time, I'll never really know. My FAST teammate, Marj, who was also at the race, said she thinks I did so well because it was a last-minute decision to run it. I didn't have any time to worry about it or plan a strategy or anything. All I could do was just run it. I think she may be on to something.

But wait, the story gets better!

Wanting to see how I did compared to the rest of the runners, I went to the awards ceremony. I don't normally go to these things, because, well, I don't usually a chance at an award (I typically run such large races that my age group is saturated with far faster runners). But I thought maybe I had a chance today. My husband had just arrived at the tower to start his long run, and decided to stop by for the awards ceremony too. I'm really glad he did, because he ended up being a witness to an historical event: I WON SOMETHING! I got 2nd place in the 30-34 Female group. SECOND PLACE! Oh, sure, there are some who would say "2nd place is first loser". But to them, I say "First loser is a lot better than 243rd loser, which is where I usually am! So PPHBBBBBTTTT!"

And here's my medal in all its glory (and me, in all my post-race sweatiness):

It says 2nd Place on it! I have documentation of this momentous occasion!!!

The front of the medal.

The race proceeds benefited Prairie State Legal Services, which provides pro bono legal representation to the needy, elderly and disabled. Don't worry, the race didn't raise money to help personal injury lawyers make more annoying television commercials. I'm not sure anyone would run that race. Except maybe me, because I would have a really good shot at an age group award if nobody else was running it.

And by the way, my FAST teammate and her husband also won age group awards. Go Team FAST!!!

Now, without any further ado, here's the run graph from the race. As you can tell, I struggled a bit during the uphill part. It turned out that this race was actually more hilly than Race For The Cure, at 170 feet of total ascent, versus 140 feet for RFTC.

Oh, and what of my easy 10 mile run? Well, after the awards ceremony, I did run another 6 miles, for a total of 9. Considering the effort I put into that 5k, I think that's acceptable.

Marj tells me there's another 5k race next weekend at the Clubs at River City. I told her I don't think I could do another one next weekend. I'm kind of 5k'd out. And I couldn't possibly set another PR. It's just too much pressure. So she said "Well, then meet me at River City for your 10 mile long run at 7:45 on Saturday..." She's sneaky, that Marj...

Peace. Love. Train.

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