The alarm went off at 3:50 this morning for the Dam to Dam race. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard to get up- nerves?? I started going through my pre- race routine, drink a bottle of water, eat a banana, pack my post-race bag… I could tell already that there were going to be tummy troubles down the way since my stomach was rumbling. It’s been a stressful week at work so nothing has helped to calm it in days. So, to avoid any unnecessary stops during the race, I popped an immodium (I anticipated this last night and made a quick trip to Walgreens!)
My ride picked me up at 5:00am and we were off! (thanks Murphy’s 🙂 ) By the time we rode the shuttle bus to the start line, we had an hour to kill before the race started. I had met a new friend on the bus through the Murhpy’s- Erin- who was planning to run at the same pace as I was hoping – between 8 & 8:15 minute miles- so we made plans to run together. After 2 visits to the KYBO to pee (what can I say, I have a small bladder- ESPECIALLY when I’m nervous!) and stretching, it was almost time for the race to start. Erin and I made our way to the 8 minute pace spot in the lineup along the Saylorville Dam and soon we were off!
We started off at an amazing pace- by mile 3 we were averaging 7:47. I was breathing hard, but felt good. We kept that pace through the 10k marker- which was halfway. THAT’S when I started to fade. I was breathing hard and Erin started to pull ahead. At that point I decided to listen to my body and slow down a bit- as long as I could keep Erin in my sight, I figured I’d be ok since we were ahead of our pace goal. It was hot and humid and I had grabbed water and powerade twice already and now I felt like I had to pee. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t- that it was a distraction from how my breathing felt… not so. I had to go! And there was no way I was stopping at a KYBO and messing up my pace time. So, I went a little while I was running- not like a stream of urine, just a little bit, enough to keep on going comfortably. (side note here, I learned ANOTHER benefit to running skirts 🙂 No way I could get away with that in shorts!) That was the first hurdle. Between the 10k and the 15k markers I seriously thought I was going to die. I had NEVER felt this awful during a race. I couldn’t figure it out. Did I start too fast? I couldn’t see Erin anymore either. I was averaging about 8:30-8:40 pace at this time and I was hitting hills. I could tell I hadn’t done any hill drills in a month- man it hurt! I wanted nothing more than to just walk. I was passing all these walkers and I started thinking if I just walked one mile… I could still finish strong.
However, running is just one big mental game. So, I began telling myself that walking was not an option for me. If I want to pick up the pace and run faster in the future, my trainings are gonna be hurting this bad and I better learn to suck it up. I started saying my running mantra in my head- easy, light, energy- trying to convince myself this was cake and I was floating with no effort… Finally I hit a downhill slope and took off- my legs felt like springs again and I picked up the pace. AND I could see Erin! As I made my way up to her, I yelled her name and fell in beside her. Turns out she was starting to struggle too and was focusing on just running- walking was becoming more tempting for her as well. At that point we decided to just make it our goal to finish the race without walking. We made it to mile 10. Still feeling rough- breathing heavy and my legs were feeling like weights again. And now I was burping up the powerade and gummies I had taken. I knew I only had 2 more miles to go and focused on that. Soon we were at mile 11, I started feeling great again and picked up my pace, running slightly ahead and passing runners. Close to mile 12 Erin was by my side again. I glanced down at my watch and amazingly, we were back to a 7:40 pace. At the 400 meter mark, we started to sprint. MAN that was the longest 400 meters EVER. I think they misplaced the markers 🙂 I wanted to cross the finish line and die.
At the 100 meter mark I gave it all I had and finished- time was 1:41 and average pace was at 8:07. A Personal Record for me. I couldn’t BELIEVE after how awful I felt mid-race, I STILL finished within my goal time! And surprisingly, my legs were feeling better and I caught my breath much quicker than I thought I would. See, running is such a mental sport, as soon as I knew it was over, I felt fine.
After the race we hung out for a bit at the post- party, chatting with other runners and spectators we knew. I made my way to the finish line to watch the 5k since I knew several people running that race too. As we were waiting for the finishers to start coming in, I was glancing around, taking in the activity… and saw a tampon laying on the finish line mat. NO JOKE. Of course, I had to take a picture and post it here for you 🙂
And tonight, I will definitely be recovering with a margarita… or two…