|Photo credit: Robin "Co-captain Awesome" Rongey/Russ Darbon|
I didn't have a wind vest before, and now I have the added benefit of glowing in the dark. :)
Compared to last year, when I ran one pre-Pere Marquette race and a few training runs on singletrack, I spent a lot of time on trails this year. At least 7 races (one of which was a half marathon and one that was 30K) as well as the majority of my marathon training long runs were on trails. I even made the hour-long drive to Marquette Park to do two training runs this fall, as well as a 16-mile run on the trails of Castlewood Park. I was far more prepared for this race than is typical for me. I was, dare I say it, even excited about it.
|21 degrees on my way to catch my ride. Brrrr!|
I was able to sustain the excitement despite the cold forecast (20's...yikes). I ran all last winter, but our temperate fall has left me a little weather wimpy. I settled on shorts over running tights and two long-sleeved tech shirts. Of course, I also brought a fleece to keep on until the last minute. I knew I was going to need it since the cost of the ride I'd begged with Wade (keep your friends close and your nemeses closer...what is the plural of nemesis, anyway? I bet Casey would know.) included helping set up the team tent and banners.
|Clearly I was very helpful since I was taking pictures|
Our area must be home to a large numbers of gluttons for punishment, because despite regularly featuring cold temperatures in addition to its signature hills, the race sold out its 600ish spots in less than 7 hours this year. The Lodge was crammed with
|Photo credit: Robin "Co-captain Awesome" Rongey|
Robin gets both photo credit AND in the picture at the same time!
I hadn't yet joined the tri club last year, so I knew about 4 people on race day. This year I had lots of friends there. After getting my vest and number, I finally got a chance to comb and braid my hair.
|Hanging out with Lisa, who celebrated her birthday by volunteering and cheering on her husband, pre-race|
|Fast folks getting ready to start.|
Wave 24. Out of 25. I'm not even going to pretend that it didn't sting. Your wave is based on your self-reported previous Pere Marquette, previous 10K, or predicted 10K time. Any race I've ever run would've given me a better start postition, but I gave my last year's time, despite the fact that I'm definitely a better runner than that would indicate. Why? I don't know, I think because last year I gave a time based on my half marathon and finished incredibly far from what that would indicate I can do.
And, yes, I know...it's not where you start, it's THAT you start (thanks, Dawn). It gave me the oportunity to pass a lot of people. I was way ahead of all the people home on their couches. Whatever. Wave 24 gave me a new purpose for my race, greater even than beating Wade: Prove that I don't belong here.
Unlike last year, I actually started with my wave this time (uhhh, sorry Wendy!). Because of the pressure I was putting on myself, I knew that I had to be careful to start conservatively. The race starts with about .3 miles of nice, flat trail before it begins to climb. My goal was to go at a sustainable pace until I had to walk. There was a delicate balance to maintain: run as long as you can, but not so long that it wipes you out for the top of the hill.
Overall, I was able to stick with my plan. I didn't have to walk that much on smaller hills, and I passed quite a few people on the uphills before I had to walk. The training definitely paid off. Other than the first monster hill, I felt pretty good through the first three miles. This wasn't a race where I spent much time talking to the people around me; rather, it was one where I rarely had the breath to make conversation. The big hill was particularly tough, though. As I pushed to keep my walking pace somewhere above "stroll" level, I gasped to the guy next to me something about the only good thing about the hill being that we wouldn't have to go up it again. Or something like that. It was even more incoherent at the time. He kind of laughed, and then as I started to slow even more told me, "No, come on..." I thanked him and he said, "Yeah, I'll probably need you to do that later for me."
Around mile 5 I could feel myself wearing down, but even then I was feeling a real lack of mental strength. I'd think to myself, Come on, you know Wade is probably running here...you need to push...but found myself not caring enough to make myself hurt. The negative self talk was there, too...Maybe you do belong in this wave! My feet were dragging along with my thoughts, and I really don't know how I avoided falling when they were barely leaving the ground. It was around here that Wendy, who I'd passed early on some of the hills, came running by and smacked my butt as she churned past. I was happy she was having a good race and annoyed with myself for losing ground, all at once.
|Other people crossing on their way back up|
|Just a few of the steps|
|I'm smiling, but only because of the camera.|
Finally, we were at the top. Knowing that the worst was behind me was a huge boost. I was able to pass a couple more people on one of the last uphills, and then my friend Jim came and ran me in for the last half mile or so. He really encouraged me to push, and I did. Then, we came across Wade and Patrick in the last quarter mile. Wade said something about beating me him. The thought that it might be possible made me start sprinting.
That last quarter mile flat out hurt. I could hear friends cheering as I neared the finish line and watched as the clock changed from the 1:46s into 1:47 range. Losing that last minute evaporated what oomph I had left, but luckily I was almost there. The picture of me at the end shows just how bad I felt.
|Hey, look...my feet are off the ground!|
|Post-race with Robin|
Even with my crushing defeat, I have to count the day a success. I had my butt thoroughly kicked by this race last year. This year, my calves and quads are threatening to secede, but my ego is much happier. That's a trade-off I'll take any day...but especially on Pere Marquette day.
Age group: 26/38