I throw up the peace sign because I'm cool, y'all.I couldn't decide whether I wanted to run this race. It was on Dec. 13 — my anniversary — and I thought it would be a great way to kick off the celebrations. Mark and I running together, not so hand in hand, along downtown streets and stretches of River Greenway that we had when I first started logging miles. But he was less than enthused, even with the promise of a Santa hat. If you are going to spend $25 on registration, which is not a lot I know, you should be enthused.
When Mark said no, I thought maybe I would ditch it, too. I was not going to run to race, and the weather the previous year had been a preview of the polar vortex to come. I didn't want to pay for a race that I wouldn't feel safe running.
But then people were talking about it ... and the 10-day forecast looked good ... and the idea of one last race of 2014/before baby seemed like fun.
I run with my eyes closed because I'm awesome like that.
After all, when do you get the legit chance to pull up the snowflake Pro Compression socks, Sparkle Athletic skirt and a fun T-shirt?
I ran a 1.5-mile warm up and met up with some of the run clubbers before the gun went off. We said hi, exchanged hugs and admired the festive wear before finding ourselves a good spot. I put myself toward the back, knowing that my friends would be running quite a bit faster and I didn't want to get caught up in the frenzy.
When the gun went off, I reminded myself of my goals: run strong but not too strong and have fun. I was not to forget I was pregnant or keep my PR in the back of my head.
I quickly realized that those things wouldn't be a problem. My legs felt terrible. Heavy. I felt slow. I watched people blaze by me and disappear into the distance.
"Have fun," I told myself. "You need to enjoy this."
But I really wasn't. It sort of sucked. Hard, actually. It sucked hard. So I just threw any expectation out the window and ran. I drafted behind people who seemed like they were going at a comfortable pace. I spotted people and rather than trying to pass them, I stayed a comfortable distance away. I made a game of dodging goose poop for kicks.
Around mile 2.5, I came up on a friend who was having a hard time. She had tweaked her back at spin, and her gait was suffering. Hmm. "I could be a good friend and stay with her," I briefly thought. But before I could say as much, she encouraged me not to and "go ahead, mama."
So I tried. But damn, if I could not lose her. I actually tried, picking up my pace, and I couldn't. The jingle bells on her shoes ringing louder as I pushed rather than the sound disappearing. Just as I got frustrated, I saw someone else I knew. We said hi, I said I wanted it to be over and I let him get ahead.
I was beginning to think the race was never going to end. Seriously, when did 4 miles get so far? And then a beacon, a hill up ahead. It was a shitty hill, short and steep, that took us off the greenway onto a downtown street. I knew from parking at the finish and seeing the timing mats that we were 3.5 blocks, maybe 4, from being done.
Thank friggin' goodness!
I glanced down at my asshole Garmin and saw that my time was in the 33-minute range. If I pushed it, if I was lucky, I could finish in the 36-minute range. I could maybe skate by with a sub-9 average or at least with a pace in the low 9s. It was incredibly shocking and a relief to know that I had felt so terrible because I was actually running at a challenging pace.
So I dug deep for a kick, found a nudge and ran. I wasn't sure I'd make it but I did.
Average pace: 8:53
AG rank: 10/56
Overall rank: 146/392