I've been working since around October to get back to a healthy lifestyle with running as a key component after returning to the couch for the better part of a year and frankly just letting myself go. One thing I've been looking forward to on this return trip is racing. Yes, I like to compete and I LOVE to PR and show improvement but I also just enjoy the community and camaraderie that comes with racing. I like the planning, then the arrival, the pre-race rituals and trash talking, the stretgy, the focus, the pain of the race, and the feeling after when your mission was accomplished. I just LOVE race day!!!
The last race I had was the Koala's/Lukes Locker Houston Half Marathon on October 28, 2007. I've come a long way since then...a long way BACKWARDS!!! But I knew I had to get back in a race and Wednesday, while running around town on my day off, on a whim, I decided to register for the Rodeo Run 10K. Walking out of Luke's, I thought I must be crazy, trying to tackle the 10K distance. The most I had run since coming back was 5 miles and that was last weekend. I had visions of crashing and burning after 5 and DNF'ing or something. Not a good mental attitude going into such a challenge.
Having never done the Rodeo Run before, I was a little concerned about the logistics. It's a point to point race and you have a choice of parking at the start or at the finish and riding a shuttle to the start either before or after the race. The admonition from the Rodeo Run was to GET THERE EARLY!!! They said on their website that if you don't get there early, you may not get into the downtown area because of all the traffic. So, I go there at 6:40. LOL!!! Yes, 3 hours before the race. And there was not a soul in downtown, just the people that live there. I drove around scoping out parking and was going to park in one of the empty lots near the post-race party and they guy said "This is for volunteers only." Yes, I arrived even before any volunteers go there.
After driving around a while, I decided to park near the start. I had quite a bit of time so I messed around with Facebook mobile for a while, walked over to the port-a-potty, walked back to the car, listened to the radio, did some more Facebook, took a nap, walked back over to the port-a-potty, walked back to the car, listened to some more music, and about 40 minutes before the race, I got out and got my shoes on and headed over to the start.
I thought the race was very well organized. There were plenty of potty's. Bag drop off was VERY well organized. There was water and music and some good announcements. I started running into a lot of people I knew. It was great to see Jen. I had not seen her in many, many moons. I actually came across some friends form work. I don't know how I found them in the sea of people but I got to hang out with Justin, Ken, and Lauren for a while before the race.
I started to feel less and less nervous and frankly was just having a good time, taking it all in, getting psyched for the race. When the horn sounded, it was another 5 minutes before we even started moving. There were so many people. I thought this was either going to be ok since my pace is so slow right now, or I thought it was going to be a disaster, especially when I saw a bunch of folks around me in jeans and full makeup. I made my way to the start and yes it was congested for I'd say the first half mile but after that, I got past a lot of the slow walkers (most of the 5K'ers) and it thinned out nicely.
Mile 1 was fun. There was MAJOR crowd support. It was awesome. My goal was to finish mile 1 at about my normal easy run effort and save just a little for the end of the race. I did mile one, including a half mile of zig-zagging in ~15:09.
Mile 2 - I was really warming up and finding a bit of a groove but not ready to let loose just yet. I finished mile 2 in 14:35.
Mile 3 - OMG!!! I forgot about the Elysian bridge. And today, the wind was out of the north at about 20 mph. So, heading north, into the wind, the bridge is mostly uphill the entire mile or so to the other side. I was not expecting this. I'm kind of glad I wasn't expecting it. I just sort of accepted it and did it. It was early enough in the race that I actually felt pretty good so I just did it. The nice thing was the vast majority of 10K'ers were already on the back portion of this little out and back which was on the opposite side of the street so I got to see a lot of people I knew and received some good words of encouragement as I was headed out. Despite the long, slow incline up Elysian bridge, I still managed a 14:50 mile 3.
Miles 4 and 5 were just work. I stepped it up just a tiny bit and pulled a 14:37 and 14:27 respectively. The end of mile 5 features the next to the last hill, just to get back up onto the bridge and start my descent. I motored up the hill and was passing by a runner and low and behold, it was Jen. Man, it was good to see a familiar face and a good friend to run in with. We took off past the Mile 5 marker an started out descent into downtown.
Mile 6.2 - Once I got over the last hump, I cruised down onto Crawford for the last stretch. I was not feeling great but not feeling too totally awful either so I picked up the pace, wanting to finish strong. I went sub-14 for mile 6 and the last .2 and finished stronger than I started. Mission accomplished.
I ran the 2nd half of the race 2 minutes faster than the first half, nothing like the crash and burn I anticipated. Yes, a 1:31:03 for 10K is not where I'd like to be but I'm not gonna be here for long.