Race recap from Sunday – finally! I’ve been busy this week (working; MASSIVE housecleaning/decluttering project underway at my house), so I’ve been unable to make this post a priority. But better late than never, I say!
This is the third year that I’ve participated in the “ManUp” race (benefiting prostate cancer education and screening) held on Father’s Day in Pittsburgh – otherwise known among my friends as the unfortunate logo race.
Two years ago, I ran the 5K (my second). Last year and this year, I ran the 10K.
Things I like about this race:
- The 10K has but one, shortish hill somewhere in the early-middle of the race. (If I recall, the 5K is virtually flat.)
- It’s one loop – v. two laps of a 5K or similar.
- It’s a big, small race. Not overwhelmingly huge like the Race for the Cure on Mother’s Day, but big enough for disposable chips and real chip time, with timing mats at the finish and start.
- I have friends who go to this race with me – Nina all three years and Jessica the last two.
Things I don’t like about this race:
- Aforementioned unfortunate logo.
- Cotton t-shirt – which of course, I wouldn’t wear, regardless, because of (you guessed it!) the unfortunate logo. But I really wish that races that attract at least as many runners as walkers would either spring for a tech shirt or just skip it all together.
- Exclusive to this year: I did NOT feel up to running 6.2 miles. I was dreading it. But that’s the larger point of this post, so let’s get to it!
Given that I hadn’t run more than 5.5 miles in about three months, I was truly concerned that I’d struggle to run the race without walking. Or crawling. All last week, I was wishing that I hadn’t signed up for the race at all, or that I at least had selected the 5K instead. I decided that since I wasn’t going to set any personal records or place in my age group, that I would instead pace my friend Jessica who’s been trying to close in on a one-hour finish time for a couple of 10Ks. Nina was kind enough to pace me in a 5K last year, and I have not forgotten what a help that was. So I figured I’d sort of ‘pay it forward,’ and I’d get to hang with my friend the whole time, instead of running all alone.
Now, Jessica will poo-poo her race times, but I think she’s amazing. Her schedule (and her hubby’s) don’t allow for particularly routine or rigorous training. In addition, she’s not spoiled like I am by a group of local running friends to meet up with (she lives ~30 minutes away from me). Although it’s entirely possible, and often desirable, to train alone, I know from experience that running with a group of women of mixed paces helps to prepare for races, as you push it to keep up. In spite of these facts, she’s able to complete 5K and 10K races – plus a half marathon each May- without hurting herself. That tells me a lot about how well Jessica has managed to stay active, focus on eating healthy, and take good care of herself her whole adult life. (Unlike some of us….)
Anyway, we didn’t quite meet our goal. (Which I guess means that I didn’t do my job very well. I tried to push Jess without turning into a complete a-hole. I may have failed at that, as well.) However, the race experience was truly delightful.
It wasn’t particularly hot, but although it had rained earlier, it was dreadfully humid. I hated every step and every second of the first two miles (which typically suck, regardless), primarily because I felt like I was wearing a green house on my head. Just as we were approaching that singular hill, Jessica said what I was thinking, which was, “I wouldn’t mind if it rained.” Almost immediately, it began to rain. I literally threw my arms out to my sides, looked heavenward, and we said, “Thank you, Jesus!”
We enjoyed a steady rain for at least the next two miles. We got soaked! (Well, I got slightly more soaked. I was already drenched in sweat at that point. Remember: Hot, sweaty German girl on the run here!) The rain was glorious. I felt amazing. And I never hit a point where I wanted to stop. Typically, I have at least one moment during a race where I hate it and cannot wait for it to be over. But I was running, running, running….
Now, I have felt really good during a variety of races and training runs. And I have been terribly, terribly happy and proud of myself after completing notably long or difficult runs. I distinctly remember the first time I ran more than five miles, completing a 10K five minutes faster that I expected (1:04:54). And the first time I finished a nine-mile run, I was absolutely gleeful that I was “that” close to hitting double digits. I pumped my fist (alone in the dark of the early morning) the first day I ran all the way to the top of a certain hill toward the end of a five-mile route I used to run frequently. However, I don’t know that I can say that I have ever experienced the legendary “runner’s high.” And I’m still not confident enough to call Sunday’s experience a runner’s high, but I felt pretty damn euphoric on that run. Once the rain began, I never got tired. At the end – even after giving it a really strong, finish-line kick – I felt like I could have kept going. I felt so very blessed. Blessed that I was there, that I had a good friend to run with, that the weather felt so refreshing, and simply that my body can run six miles. It’s four days later, and I can’t stop thinking about how great it was. (Or thinking that racing a little easier is fun. I may never try to PR again!)
So the bottom line: Even though my chip time was my worst 10K finish, the time I had during the race was among the very best that I ever had.
In other good news, Jessica is still speaking to me after I dealt out all that “encouragement” (read: yelling and heckling) to her during the run. I can’t wait until we go back next year to retrieve (and then pitch) my unfortunate-logo, cotton t-shirt.