At about 6 a.m. when I woke up I step outside and think, “Oh, this isn’t too bad.” However, I didn’t consider, or maybe I should say imagine, how hot it could get within one hour. An hour later I arrive at my destination to get ready and do a little warm up. The race coordinators arranged for water to be available before the race started for the runners. When I heard the announcer say water was available prerace I kind of laughed to myself and asked myself why I had decided to race in mid July. Before long I had a prerace water bottle in my hand. I drank some, but tried hard not to drink too much where I would have a full belly. At the two minute warning I drenched myself with the rest of the water.
The gun went off. The crowd moved forward in a wave of movement. I start off way fast: 6:40 pace. I’m trying to find where I fit in the crowd. I fall between the first way fast group and the second pretty fast group. There are two small boys in front of me running their hearts out. Maybe 8 or 10 years old. At first I feel ashamed that they are running faster than me, and then quickly feel hopeful for them. Hoping that they endure through the race. Hoping that they endure through many more physical activities through their lifetime. A few strides later the boys start to slow down and I pass them.
1K comes and goes. 2K comes. I already start to play games. Telling myself that I’m half way done when in reality I’m not quite there yet. A water stop is ahead. I had decided before the race I would not stop for water like I did at the last 5K which cost me 3rd place overall women by 2 seconds. Instead I grab the cup while maintaining speed and just pour it on myself. My legs are getting fatigued as I don’t typically run this fast for this long and especially not in this heat. My breathing is getting heavy. It’s just so much harder to breathe when it is so hot and humid! At this point I am pretty much alone. The people in front of me are too far ahead to use as targets and I have no idea if anyone is behind me, but it is pretty silent so I assume there is not. The thought of walking enters my mind. I tell myself no way its only 3 miles! But before I can get that thought through my head my legs are walking. I walk it out for about 30 seconds which helps me regain my composure and begin to run again. It’s getting quite warm! Why did I decide to race in mid July again?
A bit later I am by myself again and end up walking for about 15 seconds. I did not have enough time to catch my breath, but one girl passed me and three more people run up beside me. I decide at that moment I will not let them all pass me without a fight. I start to run again staying with them. Now I have someone to stay with, someone to hold on to. I stay with one guy as we drop the other two. We come out of the wooded area. I know the finish is coming up, but not close enough to make a kick yet. I focus on the girl that had passed me earlier. I am trying to catch up with her. My legs are hurting. I really don’t want to go any faster. I know there were some fast girls up front so I didn’t have an overall placement and I sure didn’t want to lose my age group placement without a fight. I didn’t know if that lady was in my age group or not, but just in case she was I needed to attach. She started looking at her watch as we approached. I just knew at any minute she would start to sprint. A wave of nausea hit me. I really didn’t want to run faster! I manage to work my way beside her. I tell myself remember to pass with a vengeance. I pass her with just enough room at the end to think, “I sure hope I can keep this pace all the way to the finish. I might have started this just a bit too early.” As I am getting fairly close to the finish I hear footsteps coming up behind me. I start to see a shadow of someone’s head come up under my feet. Then, my legs start to move even faster! I think, “I passed her. I am not letting her pass me back this close to the finish!” I cross the mat at 24:13 before the other person. Come to find out it was not even that women, it was someone else that was coming up on me. It felt good to know even after walking twice with hurting legs and a wave of nausea I was still able to kick out a 6 minute pace finish! I finished 6th overall women and 1st in my age group!
Back in February I did the same course in 23:21 and it was about 40-50 degrees cooler. I knew the heat would slow me down, but I figured my speed training would help me as well. Seeing how I added less than a minute to my time with walking twice I suppose it ended up okay. If only I wouldn’t have walked I would have beat my previous time. Although I have mixed emotions about walking and what I could have done if I hadn’t. I know that at that moment I needed to walk. And even though I chose to walk I managed to pump out a decent time, have a sprint finish and capture first place in my age group! Saturday was another run that I got to learn from, another experience I got to enjoy, and another run for the children!