When a Race is Really a Race

If you’ve been following my running lately, you may have noticed something.  I’ve been running races, but I haven’t been racing.

I’ve been half-assing them.

With my ego bruised from my DNF last fall, my only goal for my last marathon was to finish well and not fall apart.  I couldn’t afford to race with guts and risk falling apart again.  I just needed a happy race and I got it.

Then during my first 5K of the season a couple weeks ago, I just felt completely out of my element and dropped back into familiar marathon pace for the last half of the race.  It was good enough at the time.

But today was different.

I actually RACED!

I’ve run the Chilly Challenge 8K once before two years ago and haven’t run another 8K since, so I had no idea what to expect as far as pace.  Before I left the house, I entered my marathon time into a pace calculator to get a sense of what I should be able to accomplish.  It said 32:05.

This course is very hilly so I suspected I wouldn’t quite get that time.  There’s a hill at the start, two in the middle and a steep one at the finish.  But there is a nice, straight rolling section in the last mile and a half.

I wasn’t supposed to win. Katie is much faster than I am, so I had no problem letting her go up the first hill.

Mile 1: 6:33  I stuck to the race plan, not going out too fast.  I kept Katie in my sight, but the gap widened to 100-200 meters.  There was no way I would close that, so I just focused on making myself proud of the effort.

Mile 2: 6:49  Yes, there was an uphill here, but there was also a downhill.  I was settling back into a familiar rhythm of slowing down when the effort level went up.  Not again.  Not this time. 

Mile 3: 6:42  The middle section has a big loop for a turn around so you can see everyone’s position.  I couldn’t tell if I was closing the gap or not, but Katie did not seem to be getting farther away.  It was at the end of this mile that I decided that I would catch her.  No matter what.  She became my prey and I was going to hunt her down.

(It sounds so serious and mean when I type it out!  But this is honestly the mental game that I play racing that gets me to focus.)

Mile 4: 6:25   I dropped the hammer. That’s more like it!  I was closing in on her.  But I didn’t want to surge to early only to get passed again. I wanted to sneak up on her.

Final 9/10 mile: 6:34 pace Miraculously, I actually caught her about 3/4 of a mile from the finish. She had no clue I was there and couldn’t respond.  Katie is a powerful trail runner and I thought for sure she’d catch me on the last big hill so I gave it everything I had and kicked, gasping to the finish. She was nowhere in sight.

First place female, 32:28, 6:37/mile pace.  That calculator wasn’t so far off after all!

I raced so hard at the end that I had to lie in the grass for a minute at the finish.

More than the win or the PR, I am so happy with this race because I truly gave it my all.  Finally.

And on an unrelated note, I am really looking forward to celebrating tonight with my sister-in-law for her birthday.  Her favorite cake is chocolate with mint frosting so I made her one.  Vegan, of course!  Just have to show you this one.

Yum!

Oh, and next week is my week to start hosting the Run to the Top Extra Kick Podcast!  We answer one running-related question per day in a short daily episode.  Perfect to listen to during your warm up.  Click here to check it out on iTunes.  Or click here if you use Stitcher.

Look!  There I am with elite Tina Muir, head coach and running guru Jeff Gaudette, and the always amazing Coach Danny Fisher.  I am humbled.

Take a listen and let me know what you think!

Chamber Challenge 5K Recap

Sometimes it’s more fun to be a spectator than race.  The Jus’ Running Racing team had four teams of four racing today and with my 5K race tomorrow, I decided to bring the kids and cheer the group on instead.   There was no relief for the runners from the traditional heat and humidity that always seems to accompany this hilly 4pm race, so I was pretty happy to be in the shade for this one.  So were the kids!

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Tess and Ashni found great spectating seats!

It was a bit of a wacky start.  Most people I talked to thought the race started at 4pm, but no one was even at the starting line at 4.  Then someone said, “the race starts at 4:20, typical Asheville!”  About 10 after four, the racers headed to the starting line, doing a few stretches and strides.  At 4:15 without any warning, a horn went off from the above parking lot and nobody moved.  The runners looked at each other in confusion and assumed it was a false alarm.  Then about 30 seconds later, the race official at the start line yelled “GO!” and the bewildered runners started running, most starting their watches about 25 yards in.  Very strange.

Blurry shot of the confusing start
Blurry shot of the confusing start

Despite the craziness, Maggot Blue dominated the top spots with legendary Jay Curwen taking the W for the men and superstar Kate Schwartz easily winning the women’s race and coming in third overall.

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The clock was off by 20-30 seconds since the start was a confusing mess. Jay for the win!

 

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Kate edging out Mikey Riley for third overall and the W for the women!

The rest of the team did phenomenally as well, crushing the top of the leader boards in multiple categories.  It was great to cheer on these amazing runners and friends and show my kids what being a part of a team is all about.  Yes, even though I said I’m happy I didn’t run, I still felt a little twinge of wanting to be out there.  But part of being on a team is being on the other side of the finish line at times.  I’m so proud of everyone who raced those hot and muggy hills today (and I’m glad it wasn’t me!).