What a crazy race experience. I almost don't know where to begin.
To be perfectly honest, I was not looking forward to the Grape Stomp Half Marathon. I have just had such a difficult time keeping my focus on running and staying consistent with my training, I did not want a race to expose these issues. I knew if my time was worse than my last half marathon, then it would demonstrate the last 6 months of training were worthless. I just wasn't ready to face that yet.
Race morning was calm and I drove out to Livermore on my own. I arrived in plenty of time and was quite thankful I had picked up my race packet the day prior. The line was already long and rather than stand out in the cold, I was able to prepare for the race. Unfortunately 8am arrived (race start), and the starting line wasn't even upright yet. Bad sign. A little after I walked down to the area where that start would be and heard the announcer indicate that that start was delayed due to "unfortunate circumstances" and we had time to use the bathroom. Oh heck. If we had that much time, I might as well go and get a sweater on as I was shivering. So I grabbed my sweater and jumped into the bathroom line. For some reason I took her word on how much time was left and wouldn't you know it, I was in the bathroom when I heard, "they started." You've got to be kidding me.
So I jumped out, threw my sweater in the car, put on my ipod and ran to the start. Saving grace was the fact that this was a chip race, so I knew I just needed to run my own race. Unfortunately, there were a whole lot of people on the narrow race course I needed to pass in the first few miles. The first 10k is pretty boring out and back on a levee trail, so I just focused on holding as fast a pace as I could. I knew it was downhill, so I just did what I could to take advantage of that. By 6 miles, I was getting into a groove, but I was also battling some demons.
During the first half of the race, I was trying to run my best, but somewhere in my head, a voice kept telling me this wasn't fun. I kept thinking I didn't want to be there and it was stupid for me to even toe the line (or I guess dart to the line from the bathroom in this case). It was a demon that wanted me to give up on racing. I rationalized that I could just run for fun, with no race pressure. I even debated with myself about whether it was worth finishing this race, or just stopping after 10k.
Of course I would never do that, so I headed out for the back half, which included some hills up to a vineyard. That is when I started to see the beauty in the run. Being able to run 13 miles on a Sunday in October and pushing my limits both physically and mentally as well, I had to be thankful for that. At the turnaround, I think I counted about 6 or 7 women ahead of me. I knew I was still moving up in the field from my starting snafu, so I just pushed on, keeping good form and breathing steady. On the way down from the vineyard, I could see three women ahead and I was confident my pace was faster than theirs. If I could hold my pace, I suspected I could pass them. Sure enough, I passed the third one with a mile to go and I didn't look back. My last mile was one of my best as I gave everything I had to push to the finish. It felt awesome to cross that line, knowing I had given it my all. Knowing I had started several minutes late and still possibly finishing in the top five.
Waiting around to see the results, I was able to chat with the female winner, who is also a mom of three. Her kids are older and run races too, without her pushing them. I hope one day, when I am in my forties I can be winning races with my kids joining in.
When the results came out, I was thrilled to learn I was third women overall. Having since reviewed the results, I appears that while I actually finished behind one woman, my chip time was much faster than hers, so I won a bottle of wine. Not a bad result from being in the bathroom when the gun went off.
As it turns out, the unfortunately circumstances to which the announcer referenced was a death in their company. It is important to keep perspective on things such as this when we think to complain about how things don't go our way. I feel so blessed to have been able to do this race while my husband watched the kids. I need to keep this positive attitude throughout the race even when my inner demons try to tell me otherwise. While my time was not that fast, my effort was good and my finishing kick was fantastic. And wouldn't you know it: that's what my coach has me training lately. Keep running (or training) even when the demons kick in. Beating the demons makes the outcome that much sweeter!
|Toast to that third place finish!|