I’ve rightfully been called out for leaving you hanging with an actual race recap from the weekend. I must admit it was intentional – I got a little carried away with the sentimental stuff and didn’t want to make the post too long – but waiting all the way until Thursday was a complete lazy move on my part.
However, it all works out, as race pictures were posted today! Hooray for voluntary humiliation! (For the record, all of these photos are owned by Action Sports Images. Please, photo police, don’t come after me!)
So this is me putting on my Wayne’s World hat and time-traveling back to Sunday morning. Doodoodoodoo….doodoodoodoo….doodoodoodoo….
On Saturday evening, I began to prepare for the next morning. Once I emptied the race packet, however, I didn’t get very far. There was no indication ANYWHERE in the race packet of the starting times. I had an idea of when it started, but I am very paranoid and prefer to confirm these kinds of things multiple times before setting my alarm clock.
I had to visit THREE different race-affiliated websites before I could confirm the starting time. Not pleased, race organizers!
Other instructons missing from the race packet were what to do with gear. While the race itself is in a series of climate-controlled underground tunnels, the outside temperature was still going to be around 20 degrees on Sunday morning. And it was no short walk from parking to the cave entrance. Were we supposed to brave the freezing temps in shorts, or just trust the general population with our stuff?
It turns out that the latter was correct. I know that runners as a whole are a pretty trustworthy bunch, but I would think that an event of this size (3500 runners) in January weather conditions would at least address the gear check issue.
Once I got into the complex and found a place that wasn’t already littered with other people’s piles of gear, I began to enjoy the experience much more. It’s a pretty unique event, so there was a lot for me to take in as a newbie. The noise was ridiculous – with that many runners in a completely enclosed space, the sound just echoed everywhere. I wasn’t at all surprised to see many, many 5K runners miss the start of their race because it was so tough to distinguish announcements from the rest of the noise.
I hung around the start/finish area in order to see the 5K winners. Kansas City’s local female phenom finished 9th overall in 17:23. She’s 31. I’m jealous.
Eventually, it was my turn to run. Keep in mind that I’d run long the day before, so I had no idea what to expect from my legs. I lined up just in front of the 8:00 pace sign, figuring I’d just hang on to the pack for as long as I could. Before I knew it, we were off. Talk about a claustrophobic start!
With no knowledge of the course or really any distinctive landmarks in the series of tunnels, I was a pretty poor judge of distance. When I thought the first mile mark must be coming soon, I looked down at my watch to see it read 5:37. YEAH RIGHT. I hit the real mile mark at 7:42, was content with that pace, and settled in.
The next three miles went smoothly. 7:50, 7:51, 7:55. At four miles, I was well into the second loop. That’s when I started to notice things.
It was dark.It smelled funny. My ankle hurt. I wanted to pee my pants. During this time I had to remind myself that this was exactly why I signed up for this race. I need to get accustomed to trying to maintain a pace when I just don’t wanna.
Mile 5 was another 7:55. During the 6th mile, knowing the finish was just around one of many, many corners, I started to race the people around me. I really felt like we were trucking along. The last 1.2 miles were in 9:16, which is really just under 7:45 pace. It’s pretty frustrating to work so hard just to maintain pace, but that’s reality at the end of a race.
I’m pleased to report that yellow-shirt-guy did NOT pass me. And I’m THRILLED that the finish line photographer, while not so keen at catching my face in its most favorable light, really captured a shot that I’m proud of. I like to call this one, RAAAAGHGHGHHHHHHHHH!!
My official finish time was 48:26. My initial goal was to finish under 50:00, so I was quite pleased. I didn’t come anywhere close to placing in my age group – I was 11th – but I was content with that outcome as well (and not just because I have a weird infatuation with the number 11.) I’m not super-fast right now, but I’m able to go out and run a pace that for me is both challenging and satisfying.
And that 13-years-younger version of myself might have weighed 20 pounds less than the current version, but I’m willing to bet she had pretty wimpy quad muscles.