Today I ran (and won!) my first road race since the mono and toe-troubles – it was a small fun-run held near my husband’s hometown. The race is held in conjunction with a (delicious!) picnic brunch and small-town parade and is a really low-key affair. We drove drown with my mother-in-law, brother-in-law, and brother-in-law’s girlfriend, all of whom were doing the 5k. The relaxed fun-run attitude prevented the usual pre-race jitters from showing up, and it was actually a pretty cool event – they offered three different distances (1.5 mile, 5k, and 10k) so the field included excited little kids, fairly competitive local high school XC runners, a bunch of fitness-minded middle-aged folks, and one grizzled old man that had done the race 25 times! The race ran along a large lake on a pavement trail reminiscent of the tree-lined, but dreadfully bland greenbelt where every single one of my college tempo runs was held. Fortunately it lacked the every 10th-of-a-mile markers (somehow these make those last 2 painful miles feel so much longer…)
The timer started us with a mild-mannered ready-set-go and my husband (MountainMan) and I found ourselves out at the front pretty quickly. We had fun cheering on some of the little kids that were doing the 1.5 mile, and then kept going as they hit the first turn around at ¾ miles. Husband was gabbing with a guy he’d run against in high school and I felt good enough to chat with them. At about 1 mile I noticed that the lady behind me (a sports-bra clad lady from Bermuda with really impressive abs who I’d overheard say that she was doing the 10k) was pushing to pass us, so I put in a little surge and pulled Husband and his friend along with me. Husband’s friend didn’t like the change in pace and seemed plenty happy to turn around without us at the 5k turn around.
Right before the 5k turn around, MountainMan and I were joined by a another 10k runner, who turned out to be a Carroll-college mid-distance runner who was home over the summer. We all ran together until the halfway point, where I started getting tired and had to fall back from the guys slightly. As we turned around I saw that Bermuda lady was only about 200m back, and got a bit worried. The whole way back was a nerve-wracking battle to keep pushing and hopefully avoid letting her near enough that I’d have to try and kick in the last mile!
I managed to avoid letting the guys out of my sight. The Carroll College runner took off at about 1.5 to go, and my husband started turning around every quarter mile or so and looking over his shoulder at me. I thought maybe he was thinking of falling back and running with me, and was a little confused when he stayed up ahead. I tried to focus on catching him, but had trouble keeping my focus forward rather than on the sports-bra-clad rival that I knew was somewhere behind me. I looked back a couple times (I know, I should know better!) but couldn’t see her.
I finally made it through the very, very long last 800m and was extremely relieved to cross the finish as 3rd overall and the first woman! It turns out that the lady from Bermuda was a whole 3 minutes behind me – I’m glad I thought she was closer though, since I’m sure I wouldn’t have run as fast if I knew I didn’t need to 😉 MountainMan cracked me up when he told me that he wasn’t looking back to see if I was close enough to run with, he was looking back to make sure he had enough distance on me to keep me from catching him with a kick at the finish! He really is more out of shape than even I thought ha ha. Poor guy – he’s just started getting back into running and has only been getting in about 2-4 miles a few times a week. Coming out of retirement is rough 😉
I won a fun little trophy and was able to hold just under 7 minute pace for the whole thing, which is decent considering my current fitness level. My brother-in-law’s girlfriend got 2nd in the 5k and my mother-in-law ran a strong time and had fun doing her first race since getting over a painful leg injury (fell off a horse). My brother-in-law had to stop and walk because he used all his air to chat…we gave him just a tiny bit of a hard time 😉
Had fun (and remembered how tough that 2nd half is mentally!), won some hardware, and got to eat delicious eggs, ham, and biscuits with gravy afterwards with MountainMan’s awesome family – what more could I ask for?