Sunday, September 20, 2015
~68°, 8:30am, Shaker Lakes Nature Center
Somehow my immune system has been wracked by viruses twice now this summer and this time it happened to settle in on the Thursday before race weekend. I was hoping to continue fighting this sickness off, but it just didn’t work. By Saturday, I was weak and wondering how I could possibly pull off a 10K PLUS some extra mileage to get my training distance in (I’ve officially started training for a November half marathon). Needless to say, I woke up on Sunday feeling under the weather and in a cold medicine fog. Ugh. But I knew that once I got outside, the race day adrenaline would kick in.
I picked up my packet the day before and was feeling really good about the race – things seemed organized and, being pretty familiar with the area, I knew the run would be beautiful. On Sunday, I ran to the race start with about 4 minutes to spare. This would have been perfect had I not had to wade through a sea of humans as dense and thick as the fog in my head to get my race chip. Getting that chip was only the beginning of my struggles this morning.
The 10K and the 5K started at the same time, but at different spots at the starting “line”. This was not clarified to a lot of runners, so many people stumbled around looking for a place to stand. I also quickly realized that this race has a HUGE turn out, so the crowd quickly got larger and even more disoriented. Not really a big deal, but confusion on race morning is never fun. Luckily, I ended up lined up early because my spare 4 minutes were actually more like 10 minutes, as the race somehow started late. Having already run the 2 miles from home, I was anxious and ready to KEEP RUNNING.
When we heard the sirens (not a normal start gun), everyone took off and that’s where my struggles continued. Did I mention I was in a cold med fog? Well…it definitely showed. This 10K was a struggle for me until about the last 2 miles. I was coughing, sniffling, struggling to get my breathing correct, and sucking up all of my energy reserves that the cold was also pulling from. Folks, don’t run when you’re sick. Actually, just don’t get sick. It’s not fun and it ruins race plans.
The good part of this is that the entire route was beautiful and the weather couldn’t have been better. I loved every minute of the conditions that morning, just not my condition. 😉
The last 2 miles were the best, though, and I got a blast of energy that took me through to the finish…but wait. Where is the finish? OMG WHERE IS THE FINISH. This finish/finish line was probably the most nerve-wracking I’ve ever experienced. I’m not kidding when I say that my confidence during those last 2 miles and that blast of energy I mustered up were completely destroyed by the circumstances of the finish line. The line was too deep into the parking lot and spectators as well as already-done runners were crowding the driveway that still-running runners needed to get through to complete the race. Once I ran into the parking lot, it opened up to a wider space (obviously, it’s a parking lot) and it was filled with more people and nothing to clearly cordon off the running path. I experienced no elation at finally spotting the big finish sign and felt like it was a needle in a haystack – it’s not fun to run through a haystack, especially after pushing to get through the race while sick in the first place. This is definitely something that needs to be rethought for future races. Maybe some traffic cones placed as closely together as possible – anything to create a sort of corral to separate the runners from the rest of the crowd – would help this situation, because it truly is disheartening to have to zig-zag through a crowd to complete your run. Once I finished, I quickly got a drink of water and fought my way back to the road to walk my 1.5 miles back home. I couldn’t stick around for awards because I needed to get home and rest the sickness away, and I was feeling a little panicky in such a thick crowd. I understand that there really is nowhere else to put people, but with everything combined, the experience was disappointing.
While I did walk away from this race with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, I was actually really pleased with my performance. I ran much faster than anticipated (maybe the drugs fueled that?) and I was glad I pushed through the race. I’m on the fence about whether I (or we) will be running this one next year, but I’m determined to be healthy for it if we do.