We’re taking a very brief break this week from yoga videos to talk about my latest and greatest race…..Apple Festival 8k! It’s raining outside right now and everyone’s worried about Irma, but I’m still on a high from Saturday’s run….As you may remember, last year I had the goal of doing a 10k or longer distance, but summer running didn’t go so well and I was injured for much of June. I settled, instead, on a 5k. So, instead of setting myself up for failure, I thought I’d go a little longer this year and tackle an 8k. I chose my race awhile back and have been training with heart ever since. Especially since my friend T signed on to do with with me as of March.
Summer Training didn’t go much better this year than it did last year, except for the fact that I did it. I’m an obliger and having a training partner made all of the difference. It also meant that I set real goals for us as far as what to run each week and when and how fast. I have done some of my best running in these last few months despite the heat, the humidity, and the fact that my shoes have now run a hole in the bottom!
Goals for Race Day
My goal from the beginning was to be at 45 minutes or less. After starting to run with T I wasn’t sure that was a realistic goal, so I backed off a little….my brother (who is almost 9 years younger than me and about 7 inches taller) did an 8k over the 4th of July back home in Iowa. He had barely beat my 5k time from last September in a race he did this spring. So, of course I had to beat his 8k time. The new goal was under 47 minutes.
About a week before the race T drops a bomb on me….this is her FIRST EVER ROAD RACE! If I had known this going into training my training goals would have been far different. I was just casually talking with her about race day and our time goal and the course and she slips it in like it’s no big deal. Well, if you’ve ever done a road race before, you know the first one is a BIG DEAL!
I considered adjusting our goals, but decided that I would tell her we had two goals:
- Finish the race
- Hit our time
A Trip to the “Mountains”
After living in Northern California, Vermont, and Colorado in my lifetime I am fully aware that the “mountains” of North Carolina are no comparison. But, currently living at the beach, I knew that any elevation and/or hill was going to be a challenge. We packed up our families (4 kids aged 6 and under and two husbands) and headed west on Friday afternoon. We drove through rain and sun and up windy roads into the dark. We unpacked in our cabin, ate make-shift taco dinner, and went to bed with nerves all around. It was our first trip with these friends, we were sharing a house, and we had all spent way too long in the car. Bedtime was not on time and I was afraid we’d miss our alarms.
Race Morning Was HERE!
I didn’t miss my alarm, thanks to kids wandering around the house at 315am, but that also meant not the greatest sleep. I spent most of my “prep time” braiding my hair that I hadn’t combed in three days and dealing with the loose ones that kept falling out everywhere. I felt like I was wearing a sweater. T and I loaded up in my car and drove windy roads through the dark morning chatting away our nerves. We did the usual packet pick-up when we got there, lots of Garland Pose to try and get things moving before the race, and we took a lap around the block to get a feel for the “hills” we were about to face. I had driven the course last month, so I had a mental picture, but no feel for what my body needed to do.
After a million trips to the bathroom, a few selfies, unloading our layers (it’s way chillier in the mountains in the morning and no humidity), and realizing this was it….we made our way to the start.
The horn sounded and we were off! I knew I was going to fly at the start of the race, the question had always been….do we stay together or just do our own race? I pushed us right away all the way to the first hill. It’s right at the end of the first mile. Before we hit the hill I told T that it was just nerves I was getting out and that we’d settle into a better pace as we went. She was thankful for that because she didn’t think it would end well if I tried to keep us at that pace (probably close to 8min/mi). I “gazelled it” (a T phrase) up the first hill and then tried to slow into a pace she could catch. I knew I was going to be able to take the hills a little better, I had in all of our training, but I wanted us to stay close. So, somewhere around mile 2 I slowed up and made her catch me.
We opted away from the water station (she had her hydro pack) and I kept trying to throw out motivational phrases to keep her going. I think a mental wall was forming for her about the hills. But the weather was gorgeous and the course friendly. It was just the hills. I decided that I wanted to finish with her, even if I didn’t hit a PR that day. I was there for T and she had been there to help me train all summer.
We met up with an older gentleman somewhere just under 4 miles who was super impressed with T’s pace for her first race. And going around the second lake quickly gave her the boost to head to the end. When we started seeing people walking back toward us we knew we were close. When a guy shouted that it was 1/4 mile to go, I told her to turn it on! I did take off at the very end and T finished 11 seconds behind me, but neither of us felt off about that.
Lots of hugs and no regrets. That’s the best way I can describe the moments after the race. I can’t say that later I didn’t feel like I could’ve gone faster, could’ve done more, but in that moment it seemed that the race had been so quick that I didn’t want to think there could’ve been anything other than what it was. We checked our official times and figured that finishing just barely in the top 100 meant no prizes, so we downed some water, bagels, and bananas and piled back into the car for the sweaty ride back to the cabin.
We were greeted by our families with lots of congratulations for a great finish and our hard work. It kind of stunk that they couldn’t have been there to watch, but it’s a little hard to get everyone up that early for only 45 minutes of running. Plus, the course was not such that they would’ve seen much anyway. We ate more breakfast, spent the day touring breweries and the weekend doing apple picking. It was a crazy and fun adventure and LONG ride home.
We immediately started talking about a spring 10k. And then found out that T got 3rd place in her age group! Hardware to come in the mail…..she’s so hooked! Today was supposed to be our first day back to running again, but we’ve been washed out and each plan to run on our own this afternoon when it clears up. We’re working on a base and trying to decide on a location for the next race, but it’s coming!
Any suggestions for an April 10k?