My nagging second thoughts about having signed up for the Right Moves for Youth Twilight 5K were already strong when I woke up to another uncomfortably hot day in Charlotte on Friday. After a very enjoyable but sweaty morning running the kid laden double jogger around a three and half mile course with my friend and her two little ones I was really beginning to drag my feet about going. I did the morning run pretty much guzzling an entire bottle of water and trailing behind a very strong and steady Andrea. I think she is a clockwork camel. While my pace was sporadic and all over the place, and my troops had to stop at least three times for picnic and squabble resolution breaks, she just kept on evenly running for the entire distance and didn’t break a stride. I made it through the run, but it wasn’t pretty. Crikey.
If I was hot and tired after the run, by mid afternoon I was exhausted. If only the same was true of both my children. Bea put herself to bed and slept the afternoon away, but Sam just turned on the trouble. After such a pleasant morning spent with Andrea’s company watching the children play furiously together, I had a horrendous afternoon chasing him around. I constantly had to chastise and redirect him. Trying to keep him from helping himself to the contents of cupboards and causing chaos was a lost cause. Any wistful chance of a reenergising nap for me before race time was out of the question. By the time Bill came home I really was in no mood to go run a race. I’d had enough.
And yet that is exactly why I ended up pulling my resolve together and hauling my arse to the start line in Uptown. The excuse to run away from being Mum and to be just by myself again for a few glorious hours spurred me onwards.
Of course, it also helped that I received a wonderful new running skirt in the post that afternoon. My lovely prize of a red tartan skirt from last Saturday’s trail race arrived, and was every bit as sassy as I hoped it would be. Ignoring the voice that warned me not to wear anything new and untested on a race day I couldn’t resist putting it on. Instantly I began to perk up. Okay, maybe I could do this afterall.
Even thinking about where I ought to try parking was giving me a headache, so I opted to take the light rail. I carefully only carried exactly what I needed for the race and nothing more: hand held water bottle, cool off bandana, cash, id, my race bib, and of course, a clean hankie. It was a little nerve wracking walking away from my well stocked running bag and heading to the platform. The train was already full when it arrived at Scaleybark, packed with plenty of shorts and tech tee wearing folks, and a slew of mums herding boys wearing Let Me Run t-shirts. I squeezed into the carriage and we were off to the race. No turning back now.
With about forty minutes to go I breezed in and picked up my timing chip then set about taking in the crowds and preparing for the race. Moseying around not really sure what to be doing with myself I bumped into a group of friends from the Meetup Running Club. It was good to see some friendly faces out there.
It was super hot. Shaded at the start line it didn’t feel too uncomfortable, but as I ran a warm up mile up and down the street the real heat soon hit as the sun blazed down on unsheltered tarmac. It was a relief to scurry back into the shade of the tall Wachovia Center.
Several off limits coolers of gatorade lined the starting corale. Eyeing them greedily I sauntered over to the guarding officials and before I could politely request anything I was reproached about taking any bottles. Actually, it was the ice they were swimming in that I had my eye on! Oh ok, that was allowed. I happily filled up my bandana and settled in to enjoy the cold drip as they melted down the back of my neck.
Runners started to fill the cordoned street and I hung with my friends for a bit as I deliberated where I ought to start the race. The announcer was trying to get the runners staged a bit with the elite and competitive runners at the front and runners and walkers at the back. I wondered for a moment if I counted as competitive then decided damn right I did and decided to edge my way up closer to the front a bit. Tudor also made a move forward and so I cunningly drafted behind him to squeeze through the increasingly tight crowd.
Stroller runners set off, and ninety seconds later so did we.
I’d heard a lot about this being a very tough race, that there was a challenging hill to encounter around mile two. Glancing at my Garmin I did my first mile in 7:10. It felt great though and I was having to force myself to slow down a touch. With the hill in mind I wanted to make sure I had enough left to tackle it when I got there.
I hit mile two even faster, but I still felt great. It was incredibly hot but my legs were good and I was enjoying myself. When I hit the aid station I grabbed a water and dumped it on my head. Gulps of water from my hand held staved off a dry mouth and the ice around my neck was working wonders as a little cooling system. It was all systems go for me when I started to see the runners ahead of me begin to slow a little. Was this the dreaded hill? Surely not? It didn’t seem all that bad. I guess all my work on the real hills of Crowders Mountain played off here as I had a bit of fun picking off people and passing them as they began to falter. I still consciously held off a little on my pace though as I wasn’t convinced that the fuss had been about that stretch of the course.
Rounding the final corner apparently we did hit another incline but I still didn’t really think it was that terrible and honestly only really thought about it after the race when I examined the Garmin elevation data. At this point though I suppose I wasn’t paying too much attention to the road as I had been a little put off kilter by a man who was running in front of me. He suddenly started to look like he was a puppet being pulled by strings and I had to slow and dodge around him as he flailed. I heard afterwards that he did actually collapse before the finish. I checked and didn’t see any mention in the news afterwards so I’m hoping he was okay and no harm was done.
TMI but as I ran the final mile I also might have missed a little thing like a hill as I came to the realisation that I really needed to pee, badly. I spent the latter part of the race concentrating on getting to the finish so that I could find a loo! I charged to the finish, but not too fast for fear of, well, you know, and then desperately tried to find a break in the metal barriers and bypass the timing chip retrieval police so I could find a porta-porty! When I did make it to the loo I stepped inside and almost passed out from the fuzzy contained heat in the thing! Wow.
Recomposed I returned to hand in my timing chip and collect my finishers medal. Somewhere in the middle I remembered to turn off my Garmin and congratulate myself on finishing the race without feeling like I was going to vomit as I crossed the line.
It then also dawned on me that I’d crossed the finish and just smashed my 5K PR. It took my fumbled brain a little while to compute, but I beat my last 5K record, set six months ago at the incredibly flat Charlotte Runway 5K in perfect running temperatures, by two minutes and fortyfive seconds! Bam!
Official chip time – 22:33
9th place in my age group division of 172 women.
26th out of a total 904 women.
Overall 191st place in a field of 1860.
I’m pretty damn pleased with myself. I signed up out of curiosity to see if all the trail running I’ve been doing would translate into some decent progress in a road run. I’d say that’s a yes.
Right, that was definitely fun but I’ll be sloping back off to the trails again for a bit now though.
Next challenge – Twisted Ankle Half Marathon – May 15th.
Now, that course is supposed to have a killer hill! Check out the race director’s course elevation:
Yeah, I have to laugh at Charlotte’s definition of a hill. Crikey, I hope this time next week I am laughing about running up Becky’s Bluff too!