I am a total wuss. Sure, I can pound beers, write drunken race reports, run two marathons in two days, and run 32.6 miles in 6 inches of mud. But... when it comes to running fast... I chicken out.
Every single time.
I show up to a race (of any distance) and I think to myself... today is the day! Today I will run as hard as I can! And I'm all stoked and psyched and then I start to run hard, and reality sets in... running hard feels like shit, dude. So, I eventually back off to a more "comfortable" hard pace. It's a total pansy move. I know. And... it's kind of embarrassing. But... it's what I do.
So, even though, I expected to PR on Saturday at the Goodlettsville Classic 4-miler (because I have been running faster lately), I only expected to shave 40 seconds or so off my total time. The Goodlettsville Classic is one of my favorite races for two reasons... for one... my mom runs it, also (so cool to run a race with your mom! and.. it's a race that she used to run, back in the day! it was a 10k then, though) and also because I know the course like the back of my hand. It's a nostalgic route for me. It winds around the park I played in as a kid and the park I trained for my first marathon in.
The morning didn't start out to well. I spent the night prior to the race at my parents house and that morning, as I was getting ready, I realized... that I didn't have any shorts to wear. So, after rummaging through my mom's running shorts drawer, I finally settled on a pair. Crisis averted.
It was about this time that I got a text message from my friend and running buddy, S (formerly known as AC, formerly known as anonymous commenter)... I assumed it was a good luck text, but was happily surprised to read...
"Hope you're up for a pacer cause I'm on my way."
Hot damn! I got myself a bona fide speed demon pacer! And then the excitement turned to fear... holy shit... now, I REALLY have to run fast. Ugh.
We got to the race, met up with S and waited for the race start. S and I have been running together 3-4 times a week lately... and we've been beating my 4 mile PR of 34:55 fairly regularly on our runs. I felt comfortable with him pacing me because he knows me and my running. He knows I'm a pansy and that I like to use any excuse available to slow down. And I knew that he wouldn't just let me slow down. It was good. But, I was still scared.
I had S wear my garmin, so he could keep track of how we were doing (although I dont think he really needed it).
And then... the race began. The first mile... felt great! I knew we were running fast, but it was a good fast. An easy fast. The whole first mile, I was tempted to ask what our pace was... tempted to get some kind of gauge on what I was dealing with. But, I held off. There was a guy standing at the first mile marker, but thankfully he wasn't yelling out times... if I had heard that we were running a 7:40/7:45 pace I would have definitely freaked the freak out.
From then on out... each step felt worse. The first mile was brilliant, but the next 3 were spectacularly awful. After we passed the 2nd mile marker, I gasped out... "there's a hill ahead" hoping for a teeny, tiny slow down of some sort... ya know.. just to prepare for the hill. But, S, just said "ok" and kept going. DAMMIT. It didn't work. And actually.. the hill was wayyyy smaller than I remembered, so it turned out not to be a big deal anyway.
Seeing the 3rd mile marker was both a blessing and a curse. I was psyched to only have one more mile of pure hell, but I was bummed to have one more mile of pure hell left. There was a girl running close to us and S pointed to her and told me to keep up with her. I did. And I pushed a little and passed her. But I was only ahead briefly. She caught up to me and ran alongside me. When we had half a mile left, I considered asking S if we could do it in 5 minutes and still PR, but I couldn't talk, because my mouth was too busy huffing and puffing and gasping for air.
Ever since we passed the 3 mile mark, S, had been nudging me that it was time to pick it up. This wasn't something I was used to. Usually, when I felt that awful in the last mile of a race... instead of picking it up, I'd slow it down. But, I knew that I couldn't do that today. I had a pacer and I couldn't let him down.
With about a quarter of a mile left, the girl who had been running next to me, kicked it up and went ahead of me. I tried to turn my burners on, but they were already firing at my maximum. I pushed my way to the finish line with S a couple steps ahead of me, urging me on. and was thrilled to cross the finish line in an official time of 32:07.
Thank god this isn't a close up photo.
Yes, 32:07. In case you're bad at math... that's a 2:48 PR. In a FOUR MILE race!
After a brief celebration
My only complaint... THEY RAN OUT OF WATER. WTF? How do you not have enough water after a race? There were coolers full of coke, diet coke, sprite, etc... but the water cooler? Empty. UGH!!!!!! I can't drink carbonated drinks!
Anyway... after trying to quench my thirst with an orange and a banana we settled in for the awards...
Guess who came in first place in their age group???
Yeah, not me, of course. My mom. Show-off.
But! I wasn't a loser... nope, I ended up placing 2nd in my age group and only lost first place by 5 seconds!!! 5 freaking seconds!
Showing off our bling!
So, yeah... running fast sucks ass and it's hard for me to mentally stay in it. But DAMN is it good to PR AND win an award!
I've already got my sights set on trying to PR at a 5k soon!
S and I after the race. Couldn't have done it without him, that's for sure.
Thanks so much, S!!!! I would have never been able to maintain that pace for those last 2 miles especially, when I felt like I was going to spontaneously bust and die with every step. Now, if I can just figure out a way to convince you to pace me for a marathon sometime soon...