Some of my race fears were justified (see pre-race jitters post), while others were completely unwarranted. Parking, for example, was an unnecessary concern. Although the Convention Center parking garage was full upon our arrival, we had no problem finding parking across the street. The justifiable concerns began when we reached the Start line.
We arrived at the parking garage with too much time to spare (we were a good 90 minutes early due to such a successful parking pursuit), so we took a stroll through the Convention Center and along the bay. Since the 5+3K was scheduled to kick off at 9:00 AM, we walked to the Start line to secure our standing position toward the front of the racers, as we were worried that getting stuck toward the back would cause us more problems. We cheered on the half-marathoners as they pushed toward the finish line. The temperature was rising quickly and I couldn’t seem to quench my thirst, which was likely half heat, half nerves. By 8:30 AM, the Start line became so packed that it was difficult to stretch and warm up without hitting another person. By 8:45, the pacers arrived with signs, so people rearranged themselves based on their expected paces.
We were, of course, sporting our Vibram Bikilas and we were surprised by how few other minimalist runners we saw during this race. I decided to set my iPod to rock out to the Dave Matthews Band album Big Whiskey and the Groo Grux King, which is becoming a race favorite for me. The 8K began promptly at 9:00 AM. As I crossed the official Start line, I tried to hit both my watch and my iPod Nike Sensor while navigating among the other racers. For the first mile or so, I think I went out too fast and wasted a lot of energy jumping on and off the median to pass other racers. The course was along Bayshore Blvd, which is a scenic local road along the water. The route had us running straight down the road for just over 2 miles, then turning around the median and returning beyond the Start line to the Finish.
Although the first mile was packed, the crowd seemed to thin during mile 2. Eric reached the turn-around before me, so when I began seeing runners coming towards us, I started searching for Eric. We waved to one another from across the median and he looked to be in a good position. I knew the round-about was coming up in the next few minutes for me and I was relieved that the halfway point would be shortly thereafter. I was exhausted after the 2nd mile. The heat (and lack of shade) was uncomfortable, I went out too fast, I wasted energy – I was just uncomfortable, but I knew the 5K marker was coming up soon. A funny thing happened when we reached the 5K line: half the people around me started walking. Did they really sign up for an 8K just to run a 5K and walk the remaining 3K? Some of the racers began running again later, but that was bizarre.
After hitting the 5K, I did slow up quite a bit. I was determined – no matter what my time ended up being, there was no way that I was going to allow myself to walk during the race. I knew I was capable of completing the distance and I would have been frustrated with myself forever if I had started walking. But, I was struggling. I was looking forward to the 3rd water stop, although the first two were…disappointing.
I have developed a fear of water stops. I am apparently not coordinated enough to drink liquid from a cup and run at the same time. I tried the pinching method with little luck. At the first stop, I grabbed the sports drink and proceeded to spill half of it on myself, leading to sticky fingers for the rest of the race. During the second stop, I grabbed water, drank some, spilled some, and poured the rest over my head. During the final stop, I grabbed a sports drink and tried to drink it, then grabbed a water and poured it over my head. What was particularly frustrating during this race was that people actually stopped at the water stops. I was under the impression that you run, grab a cup while running, drink your cup while running (or pour it over your head), throw the cup while running, and continue running. This is, after all, a RACE – stopping doesn’t really seem like a decision well-suited for racing. That definitely added some time to my total.
There wasn’t much distance remaining after the final water stop, but I was hurting. The heat was brutal and I began to feel nauseous and I got really tired. But, I was determined to finish the race running, and that’s exactly what I did. I was ecstatic to see the finish line and I even worked up a tiny bit of speed to cross it. I stopped my watch and iPod, but I didn’t know my exact chip time yet. After crossing the Finish line, I proceeded to the medal pick-up and met up with Eric, who had finished several minutes before me. I had to breathe for a few minutes before I could join in his excitement of finishing an 8K. It actually was an exhilarating experience – each distance we conquer seems to come with a unique sense of fulfillment that is quite rewarding.
Eric finished in the top 37.5% of his age division, 33.5% of males, and 18.5% overall. I finished in the top 34% of my age division, 24% of females, and 35% overall. According to the age grade, neither of us are competing at a local level yet (we have to be above 60%). I’m not overwhelmingly impressed with my time, but that doesn’t diminish the excitement of finishing our first 8K. I’m feeling a 10K in my future… 🙂
Originally posted on March 1, 2011 on MicheleAndEricGetMarried.com.