Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Raleigh NC 5K (June 12, 2010)
This race is very meaningful to me in many, many ways. On a personal note, my grandmother beat Breast Cancer in the 1970s when it was almost unheard of, only to succumb to colon cancer about 15 years later. Incidentally, this is the grandmother that always inspired me to be active – because she was so athletic and active, even up to the end – and I think she’d be very proud of me for running now, and especially in this race. I’ve participated in this event for years as a walker, but at the last minute last year, I decided to “unofficially” (unchipped) run it and I wasn’t happy with what I did because I had to stop a few times. However, it was that race that gave me the inspiration that has lasted this whole year because it was that race that I discovered that Grandma, in fact, did pass the competitive gene on to me. After last year’s Komen race, I immediately registered for my first officially chip timed race, The Great Raleigh Road Race (I run the anniversary of this race 3 weeks) and I have had at least one race a month since then and have no plans to really stop now. I thought it fitting that I close out the first official year of racing with Komen, and my goal was to PR it. When asked by WRAL who I’m running for, it was for my Grandmother (Video – and, that is Jen and Cary beside me!!). Love you and miss you, Grandma.
I ran as part of a team at work – another tradition. There were a few of us running competitive, but they were all coming from different directions, and the rest of our team was walking, so I was pretty much by myself. One little wrinkle in the plan was that some how, my husband’s name was associated with my email address – annoying for so many reasons… most of which surround all the “personal issues” I’ve alluded to through the year so far. I absolutely had to get that fixed because I didn’t want my hard work to go with his name (not like he would claim it, but still). The race folks were good about it and it took only a minute to fix (once I got through the line!!) Holy Cow – so many people! It was also my first D-Tag race and I was all paranoid that I was going to put it on wrong – ha ha. I also took extra care this time to ensure that I didn’t do anything crazy with the eating – I learned that pretty painful (both literally and figuratively) lesson during the Capital City Classic and I didn’t want to make that mistake again, so it was bland veggies, bland chicken and bland rice for both lunch and dinner, chased by plenty of water and then time to pink up! Pink nails, pink toes, pink shirt, black skirt chaser skirt… with a pink skort. Laid out my (pink) socks, my (ok, I don’t have pink shoes) shoes and all the other gear, and then went to bed. I did have dreams about putting the chip on wrong (I knew I would), but otherwise, got a great night’s sleep!
I set my alarms (4, in fact) for shortly before 5AM and finally got up around 5:10 or so, made my coffee, and ate my non-combative (with my stomach at least) breakfast: 1/2 bagle with peanut butter and oatmeal. I had asked my friend if I could park at his house (rather than taking the shuttle) but he never got back to me and has a dog that I didn’t want to freak out and wake him up at that hour, so I decided to park at the Art Museum. There is a trail (Raleigh Greenway) that leads from the Art Museum to Meredith College. I got there and parked a little after 6 and I thought I saw two girls in tutus several feet ahead of me… I thought it might be Jen and Cary (turns out it was), but they were far enough ahead of me that they couldn’t hear me call them, so I thought, if that is them, I’d just catch up after the race. I noticed right away, though, that it was already very sticky outside and I was thankful for having had that extra bottle of water, but hoping like crazy I made it to the port-a-potty in time. I started on the greenway, which was part of my HM in March, so it was very nostaligic for me as I was walking it: “here’s where my brain let go and the body took over”, “here’s that nasty-@$$ hill where I starting passing folks right and left”, “here’s where I knew I might actually finish it” etc. I looked down at my watch and started to get nervous that it was 6:30 and it seemed like I had farther to go than I thought, so I started to jog a little. As I was jogging, I approached a guy who was doing some strange warm up thing – he’d take short steps then a couple of long ones then a bouncy jog, then jump a little, then walk, and then do it all over again… it was kind of entertaining. I look at my watch: 6:40 and I still wasn’t there. I finally get to the port-a-potties around 6:45 – just enough time to go and put my D-tag on (I wanted to see how everyone else had it on so I didn’t do it wrong, especially since I had some anxiety about it). 6:50 – time to line up.
I couldn’t believe how many folks were there! I weaved my way up toward the front, though not on the front line. I stopped when I saw EC – he was something else. I thought “ok, he’ll keep me on pace!!” – haha. He was very tall – like 6’7″ and about 5 1/2 feet of that was his legs! I had no chance of keeping up with him!!! They got us started and, honestly, it was fun to see EVERYBODY in front of me looking down and starting their watches – what a sight! As a photographer, I thought that would have been the *perfect* photo, especially from that perspective. I was farther back than I thought (as I found out after the race), but I finally got out of the gate and took off. As expected, EC and his long legs were long gone and I never got to use him as a pacer. Oh well. As crowded as it was, though, I only had one incident where I found it tough to pass – there were a string of 13 – 15 year old girls (like 10 of them) that were running together. I was so proud of them for running at that age, I forgave the infraction – haha. I ended up getting around them and look up and dang if this girl ahead of me isn’t wearing the EXACT same outfit I was wearing, including the skirt chaser skirt! LOL – that was too awesome. In a total move that is mostly my Dad’s personality, I had to run beside her and tell her I loved her outfit – very nerdy, I know!!
The first mile went great – I was sub-7 for part of it (a small part of it) and kept it sub-8 for the remainder. Then… I hit mile 2. I think I went out of the gate a little too fast – still – for the humidity and started drinking my water (brought the Nathan Handheld with me). This is also around the point that the hills started – oh, those hills. Now, having run this route a lot, I remembered the hills as being rolling – up a little, down a little, up a lot, down a little, etc. so I expected to slow a little bit, but the heat really started to kick in around this time and I was curious how I was doing, pace-wise. I was dripping with sweat by this time so either it was really getting hot and thick out there, my heart was about to explode or I was running too fast. I was shocked to discover that I had slowed my pace to a 9:30! What??!?!! Oh, come on! No freakin’ way I’m getting PR now – ugh. I was so disappointed. I tried to pick it up a little to at least a 9 or 8:45 so I still had a chance, but I just couldn’t do it. I was so annoyed with myself that I just stopped looking at that point. So what – it is hot. wha wha wha. At that point, I felt like I was NEVER going to acclimate to the heat and humidity and that it was going to be a reeeaaaaalllllyyyy long summer.
I don’t even know how long I was at that pace, but it felt like an eternity. Judging from my final finish time, though, it couldn’t have been long and I think I gave up on myself a little too early. Getting irritated with my music, I started fumbling around with my iPod until I finally found a song that helped me push through the toughest part of the hills and some how, found a second wind. I remember the sprinklers and the folks at the church singning, but I don’t remember much else from Clark Ave… Once found my second wind (and I’d like to thank Ben Folds for the part he played in that) I started feeling good again, and am sure I got back down to a sub-8 for at least a little while… that is, until I got to the end of Clark Ave – and the nastiest hill. I think it is just mean to put a long hill with a really nasty steep jaunt at the end of a 5K… just sayin’. That was where I had to stop and walk last year and I was determined that I WAS NOT walking that part this year, dang it. So I didn’t – I took a swig of water from the Nathan and I pushed it through – and it was getting really hot at this point – and I kept thinking… almost there, almost there… then I look up and I see the balloons! Hallelujah! Less than .25mi now! I push harder – still can’t see the time though… what’s the time? why can’t I see the time? too many damn balloons in the way – where’s the time? Now, I know what you are all thinking – why didn’t you just look at your watch? I can’t explain it, but I get a full-on lobotomy when I run, and I think more was missing that day than usual – maybe I got extra endorphins that day or whatever… dunno. Normal, simple things like looking at my watch does not register at the end of 3 miles, and I usually start it before the gun, which means I have to subtract, and well… I can’t do math when I’m lucid, so forget about doing it while running. It felt like forever (and was probably only a few seconds) but – finally the clock! it was 24:40 – woah! Just missed the PR! Dang it!! I crossed at 24:50. Oh well, can’t win them all….
…or can you?
Apparently, I was over :20 back from the start line. I guess I was too busy looking at EC that I wasn’t paying attention to the time on the clock when I crossed the start line – haha. Amazing that I still act like a giggly 12-year old in the presence of a good looking man. All day, I had been telling everyone I did 24:50, and while I was hoping for a PR, I was still happy with that because it is hard work and I shaved a full minute off my previous race, so I’ll take it. However, later in the day, someone asked me what my official time was so I looked up my stats and discovered to my utter surprise that I DID finish with a PR!!! Yay! By 3 seconds, but a PR is a PR is a PR! Woo hoo! I still felt great about the 24:50 – that’s no small feat, but I was even happier to have reached my goal! Officially, that is 24:30, making me 22/249 in AG, 421 overall. I will say this: my behind is very sore. I have talked to a few other people who ran it and everyone has said their behinds and legs are very sore after that race – I’m almost NEVER sore after a race. I did a little stretching last night and felt better, but wooo…. not used to that!
After the race, I ended up meeting up with Jen and Cary – and seeing their adorable tutus! We were interviewed by WRAL and then we walked around… took some photos of some of the shirts and then headed back to our cars. We all agreed that a second lap in that humidity was not going to happen! Overall, a really good day and a great event that I am proud to participate in every year