I wasn’t sure how this race would go… I felt I still had a lot of fitness leftover from my triathlon season, and although I had been training, it was unstructured and haphazard for the most part. The course was mainly a dirt path with a few hills. I think it’s a lot harder to go fast on dirt versus pavement.
During my warm up I got a pretty good feel for how the race would go, which was not good. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was barely jogging and I was sucking down air like it was the last 200 meters of a 5k. Yikes. I hoped I would settle in over the course of my 20 minute warm up but I never did. The most likely culprit was this super-caffeinated (I think it had 200 mg of caffeine) sports drink I sipped on the way to the race. I had tried the drink in training and it was fine, so this was totally unexpected. Another possible culprit was lack of sleep although this seemed less likely. Friday night Dan and I took the bus downtown and went out for sushi and I went to bed kind of late, considering on Saturday I was up by 6:15 to go to a day course in Denver on the shoulder…. Then Saturday night, after the course we hung out at a neighbor’s party for a while and then I had to get some work done, which I did, but then when I was done with work I wasn’t that tired anymore but I knew I had to be up by 5:15 to get to the race on time so I went to bed at 11:00 but Dan was already sleeping, so I did the obvious thing, I kept the light off and laid on my side facing away from Dan while I looked at rugs on Overstock.com on my iphone. I am really into this one right now. I think it would be good for the living room. At 11:20 I realized I would be getting up in only six hours so I shut my eyes and tried to sleep. I slept horribly, waking up just about every hour. So maybe the fatigue of two nights of insufficient sleep was part of why I felt like there was an elephant sitting on my chest while I was trying to run.
The gun went off and off we went. I usually choose my pace based on my breathing but since my breathing was out of control anyway, I used my legs as a guide. My friend Ann who I train with dropped me within the first 10 meters. I normally run a little faster than her so I figured if I just ran my race I would catch up but instead she pulled farther and farther away from me and I never did catch her. Within the first mile I kept thinking, if I am breathing so hard now, how am I going to finish this race without blowing up?? I simultaneously maintained a tiny shred of hope that maybe I just needed more time to warm up and my breathing would eventually settle down. Somewhere between miles 2 and 3, after much debate I walked a few steps. I saw what felt like the whole race pass me by and felt totally discouraged but I literally could not catch my breath. I started running again and tried to convince myself the race wasn’t totally over just because I walked a little. I got to the turnaround and checked my watch. 7:54.. we started at 7:30… 24 minutes… Maybe my race was not totally over, if I could just avoid walking and stay focused. After the turnaround, I saw tons and tons of runners coming toward me and realized I was in the front of the race. Maybe things weren’t so bad. I was still having trouble breathing but the mental boost of knowing I was toward the front kept me going for a while, until about mile 4 when I was having a terrible side stitch and felt like I just couldn’t take a deep breath. I slowed down for a while but it didn’t help. I walked through an aid station and caught my breath and then ran again, knowing there was about a mile and a half left. I promised myself I would not walk. I focused on the sound of some guy’s feet getting closer and closer and I for a while I held him off but then he passed me and I couldn’t pass him back. Finally finally the finish line was close and we were on pavement again. A girl in a white Lululemon top passed me, and I found a burst of energy to pass her back, but then she passed me and I had nothing left to try and sprint past her again. I crossed the finish line and the clock read 49 something. It was not great but it was not that bad considering I felt like doody the whole race.
After walking around, cooling down and getting some snacks, (ps this race had great food and a nice t-shirt that was a WOMEN’s cut. Thank you, Heart and Sole for giving me something I can actually USE!) I looked at the preliminary results and found I was third in my age group. That made me feel better although I was thoroughly surprised that an 8:00/mile pace, one of my slowest 10k’s of the last several years, was sufficient to place. Anyway, I really like this distance. I’m sure I will find another 10k to do. Next time it will be on pavement, I will get adequate sleep and I will not drink that stupid Catapult drink.