My friend Jenn met Daniel and Ethan at I at our place bright and early - 7am-ish - and followed us out to Warner Pacific College where we met Janelle and Kaylee. These two ladies are my running heroes. They both finished the Portland Marathon in October, and I even got to run along with Kaylee for a little over two miles right around the time she hit her "wall." They kindly agreed to run with me while I reached for a faster PR at the 10k, in order to earn my way into a sooner starting corral at the Walt Disney Princess Half Marathon. Back to my update:
After picking up Kaylee and Janelle, we made the hour long drive to Forest Grove and finally found the Tom McCall Elementary School. Due to my astute planning skills... we arrived a full hour early. Oops! Fortunately, they had the school cafeteria open for registration/check-in, and we didn't have to wait out in the cold. Yay! Daniel took this first picture of me as we got out of the car. I tend to get pre-race jitters, and apparently this is my "I'm nervous face."
Not the best angle... thanks honey :)
Daniel was kind enough to wait in the car with Ethan while we went in and check-ed in. Ethan was less than impressed with our early start that morning and slept until the race started.
Race? What race?
The race volunteers had things organized pretty clearly, and check-in was a breeze. I get really excited about getting my race numbers, still as you can see from the pictures. My friend Jenn was sweet enough to take a whole bunch of pictures on her phone.
I got my numba!!
All checked-in and officially nervous :)
Once I was checked-in, I started getting really nervous. I'd made a BIG mistake and done a tough leg workout the day before. What was I thinking?! Newbies!! I was actually limping around before the race even started, so I knew I was in for a tough race. On top of that, on my last two long runs I'd been experiencing stiffness in my achilles that made each step feel like I was just dragging lead weights or something. Right before the race it occurred to me that my shoes were probably too small (more on that in another post) and I started officially freaking out. Thankfully, they had bathrooms. You can always find the bathrooms right before a race... "just follow the poo smell" - as my friend Kaylee says. That's one of those less-than-glorious details about running that gets left out when people talk about running.
When it was time to start the race, a volunteer invited us all outside and had us line up. Kaylee and Janelle and I ended up in the middle of the pack and spent the last few moments chattering and debating about our pace. I can't remember what we decided, but I knew it'd be fast. :)
Ready to race!
I was so excited!
We started off a little fast - trying to keep from getting run over. We let that quick pack at the front get out and ahead of us within the first mile. I felt pretty good for the first few hundred yards, and then my "too fast" start caught up with me. I find that every time I run, the first two miles are full of negotiating about when the walking gets to happen. As my goal for this particular race was to set a PR, I knew there would be no walking. So the arguing in my head, and the pleading to God for strength started right after we finished the first mile.
Mile two found us passing - and being passed by - and passing again, etc - by a couple of men in their 70s who were talking about the other races they'd run in the last month or so. It's fun to pass Grandpas. It is not fun to be passed by them. Over and over and over. Apparently they'd picked us out as their pacers and would let us get far enough ahead so they could get a good run in before passing us and then walking for a while. They were adorable though, so it all evened out.
Miles 3 and 4 were sort of a blur - Janelle put some distance on us by that point and I was starting to fall behind Kaylee by several paces. She kept looking back and telling me how good I was doing and to stay strong. Somewhere in miles 3 and 4 we hit three hills. THREE! Now that I look back on all my training runs, I am SO, SO, SOOOO thankful that we did them all with hills involved. I was able to run up each one of them and not lose a step. I think I even felt stronger on the hills for some reason - who knows!
We passed the only water station somewhere in mile 5... I think? But we got to pass it twice. :) It was at the top of a hill that they had us run to the bottom of, and then back up before taking a turn in another direction. Yay for aid stations you get to pass twice! As we passed, one of the volunteers said, you've just got one more hill, and then you're home!
The hill must have been at least the last 200/300 meters of mile 6. When I saw it from a distance I thought - "There's no way that's our hill, surely we will be turning to the right and finishing just around the corner." Thankfully, I didn't have my glasses, so I wasn't able to see all the runners in front of me heading up the hill. Which meant I had less time to freak myself out about it. By the time I realized we'd be hitting the hill, I was ready. Then a Grandma passed us. She had to be at least 80. And she blasted up the hill. WOW.
Kaylee blasted up the hill as well, and I shuffled along - willing myself and praying to God for strength to just keep running. The hill curved around to the right, and as I saw Kaylee disappearing around the corner I thought, "I have to keep up with her, I've got to be able to see her so I don't wimp out and start walking!!" Just before she disappeared, she must have reached the top of the hill because she turned around and jogged in place and cheered me on until I caught up with her. And the Grandma passed her. :) She let me know we'd done 6 miles and only had a few meters left. When I could finally see the finish line, I actually almost cried. I'd almost done it! My first 10k without walking, AND it had 4 hills! FOUR HILLS!?! (Who the heck signed us up for this anyway?)
Finishing just behind Kaylee - I'm almost smiling this time :)
We sprinted in the last little bit, thanks to Kaylee's suggestion. As I finished, I saw Ethan up on Daniel's shoulders and heard him cheering for me, "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" What a wonderful welcoming party. :) Janelle was there at the finish as well, and there were high-fives and cheering and water all around.
Then we remembered there was also a pancake breakfast. Best race so far. :)
Here's some stats for the number fans;
Finish Time: 1:13:46
Gender Place 92/117
Age Place 14/18
So you're probably wondering if I was able to set that PR? I certainly was! I took nearly ten minutes off of my Gresham Jazz Run time. I'm officially signed up in the 2:30:00 starting corral. Pretty exciting stuff!