Two days later and I am sore. Really sore. Actually, the soreness is really concentrated in my quads. Everything else feels fine. Walking down stairs is murder.
So, I finished the race in 2:04:37. For those keeping score, that’s 16 minutes SLOWER then 2007, when I finished the race in 1:44:45. That’s what you get for not training.
But I shall return.
In all honestly, I did fairly well in the first half of the race. I looked at my splits from 2007 and compared them to this year. IN 2007, I ran the first 5k of the race in 25:00. This year, I ran it in 26 and some change. That’s not terrible. IN 2007, I ran the 10k in 51:00. This year, 53 and some change. Again, not bad. However, the train came off the tracks at mile 8 or 9. That’s when my body said “ok, that’s enough.”
Let’s rewind to the beginning of the day. I got up early and ran out the door around 6:30 am. My plan was to head to my office and park the car in my office lot (free) and then scoot down a couple of blocks to the Art Museum for the start. I leave the house and I get all the way to the 30th Street Exit off of 76 and realize that I dont have my bib. WTF #1. So, I am now faced with a decision: do I turn around, fly home, and get the bib, or do I just say “f*ck it” and run it bandit. I chose option 1. It what surely was a fine piece of driving, I flew home in 12 minutes, ran in, got the bib, and flew back. I arrived at the office around 7:15 am. I had 15 minutes to the start of the race.
I started to compile all of my race day belongings. Ipod – check. GU- check. GPS – check. Sneakers – sitting at home!!! WTF #2. There was good news, however – I keep a pair of shoes in the office for lunchtime running! I jet up to the office, grab my shoes (pee), eat a half of a leftover donut from Friday, and jet back down the stairs. So far, a couple of hiccups, but we’re still on track.
So begins my sprint to the art museum. It was a good warmup – blessing in disguise perhaps? Ok, so I am about half-way down the Parkway, heading towards the start, when I hear a big commotion, and then I hear the starting pistol fire, and within seconds, I see the elite runners streaking by. So, I start really hauling ass to my “corral.”
Quick runner’s jargon interruption. For these big races, everyone cant start the race at the same time. It would be chaos and pandemonium. People would be tripping over each other, running into each other, etc. So they “phase” the runners in corrals. Each corral represents a pace group. So, for example, the elite runners are obviously in corral #1. Right behind them, in corral #2, would be the 5 minutes per mile pace group, so far and so on. At registration, the runner has to indicate what pace they believe they will be running on race day. The guy who gave me my bib was in corral #7, which is way in the back start.
The corrals are more or less gated off from the spectators with construction fencing. By the time I found an opening, I was in corral #10. I tried weaseling my way up a bit, and managed to get as far as corral #8.
The race officials start the corrals in waves, with about a minute or so between starts, so, after all the rushing around, I had a good ten minute buffer before my actual start time.
So here is the coolest part of the day. They move our corral up to the start line and I managed to get a spot right on the start line. 3-2-1 GO! And I am off the races (no pun intended).
I am the first one out of the gate and I running ahead of the pack. I look behind and the next guy is about ten feet behind me. I have to be honest, it was really really cool running down the Parkway, alone, in the front of the pack, with hundreds of spectators watching. I’ll probably never get that moment again. I imagine the spectators were probably saying “who the eff is this clown?” as I was running down the Parkway.
After the start, thats where the fun more or less ended. Actually, the first loop of the race, which takes us down to City Hall down to 8th or 9th street (quite frankly, I really wasnt paying attention) wasnt that bad. My GPS was acting goofy – I couldnt get a signal and I imagine that was a result of all of the buildings and everything. Anyway, I surmise that I was running an 8:30 pace through most of the first 4 miles, and my 5k split confirms that.
As we make our way back down the Parkway towards West River Drive, I am still feeling good. Not great. Just Good. Remember, I hadnt run in nearly two weeks.
As I progressed down the WRD, my pace started falling off, intentionally, because I knew there was no way I could continue that pace. I was also starting to fatigue. By the time I got to mile 8, right before the Falls Ave Bridge, I had to stop and stretch. After a quick breather, I get back on the horse, over the bridge, and started the final 4 miles to the finish.
That’s where I hit the wall. The trip down Kelly Drive could be described as more of a “slog” then a run. I stopped at every water station and walked a bit to collect myself. By the time I got to mile 11, I was walking more and more frequently. It was about that time that I met two girls who looked to be in worse shape than me, so I saddled up to them and chit-chatted a bit. One was suffering from a bad knee, and the other girl (Christina) had a bad hip. So we decided to run as much as we could and then walk accordingly. At some point the girl with the bum knee took off ahead of us, and Christina and I limped through most of the 12th mile. She was in worse shape than me.
The last three-tenths of the course meanders back around the side of the Art Museum, up the Parkway a bit, and finishes in the small parking lot smack dab in front of the Museum. There’s a lot of spectators at the finish and there’s nothing like the sight of the crowd to stir up that last bit of energy to get you over the line.
After the race was over, I stumbled around the Museum area a bit to see if I knew anyone. I ran into four “Pickle Runners” in the course of the day. It’s come to a point now that I get recognized as “The Pickle” at just about every race that I go to, either as a runner or a timer. Once I was done milling around aimlessly, I made my way back to my office, where I had the luxury of getting changed, in lieu of driving home in my own stink and sweat.
Lessons learned: I suck. I mean I really do suck. But, there’s nothing like a sh*tty finish to deliver a good swift kick to the ass. I will be back and I will PR that course.