Halloween Haunting 10K
As I type the next day after the race, I am still on Cloud 9! :)
I want to start this post with my bib because of a little game I play. I always look for little signs and seemingly insignificant details and think of them as good omens. I have done this since I was a kid and it's just a Pollyanna kind of thing I still do. For example, last weekend, I ran 21K @the Niagara Falls International Marathon (Half Marathon). It was also my 21st race to date. I thought this was a good sign, running 21K as my 21st race (on a side note: It was also my 13th race of the year, but I have never been bothered by the #13 so this number just made me smile without feeling dread or an "oh oh!").
So, this past Saturday afternoon, when I pulled my bib out of the race kit bag at home, I looked at this number and showed it to Ben ... "See?" I said. "13 + 8 = 21. I am wearing on my chest tomorrow the number of km I ran last weekend and the number of races I have under my belt. It's a sign, sweetie! Tomorrow is going to be a great run!"
The following Sunday morning, when we arrived at Springbank Park, the 3K fun run was in its finishing stages. I always find it fun to see the number of people milling about, most of them with bibs on, at these events. It is a fun energy and has become a part of what I now consider an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday morning. :) It was even more fun at this event with the number of runners wearing costumes! Huge kudos to them for being such fun participants - I used my dog as an excuse not to dress up! :)
Ben stayed in the parking lot to "dress" Angus while I took off to pick up my chip because I was anxious to be at the starting line in decent time. We did not dress him specifically as anything. We just went to the dollar store and bought a red bow tie for around his neck and bumblebee wings on his back. $2 tops! Good enough. :)
This is when I learned, from the announcer on the loudspeaker, that our chips would start once we crossed the start line. I was so pleased to hear that because I knew right then that I would get an accurate reading of my time. Although I "felt" that perhaps I could set a new 10K PR today, I truly was downplaying it and not counting on it as I had Angus with me and my body was still tired from last week's HM.
Soon after Ben met me at the start line with Angus the bow-tied bumblebee, the starter gun sounded. It took a good minute for those of us at the back of the pack to get across the starting line. As I started to run in the first leg, I saw and felt the huge difference between last year and this year. Last year, in my first 10K, I watched as swoooosh! the majority of runners ran way ahead of me and virtually disappeared out of sight. With only 5K race experience, it was not something I expected and I felt both left behind and a little demoralized and as I did my best to stick to my pace. This year, because all the 5K runners started at the same time as the 10K runners, there was almost 600 people running together so I definitely did not feel alone! If anything, it was just a touch too crowded for a change (or more than I am used to on that park road). Everything was going great until the 1.5 km point. This is when Angus decided he needed to take a dump! All that time before the race, but he needed to go right then and there ... so off to the side we went while I waited for him to finish to pick it up with one of the baggies I was armed with in my pocket. :( Good-bye PR!
Just past the dam, we saw Ben taking pictures and Angus was very excited to see him. I think the dog was a little surprised that we kept running because he was whining as we ran up the hill past the 2K mark and kept looking back to see if Ben was following. :( A little irritating for me as I was trying to concentrate on both my pace and getting up the hill.
What I like about this point in the race course is that, as I am heading toward the hairpin turn past Storybook Gardens, I get to see all the runners pass me on their way to crossing the finish line point to mark the first 5K. I waved to my friend from the dog park, who is a Boston marathoner and a local learn-to-run coach. She was excited to see Angus at my side. I also saw my pace friend from last year's 10K running club, who is a wonderful running inspiration. :) It's great to see all the other runners as well, the serious, super fast place runners followed by the still fast, but costumed runners. After making the hairpin turn, I then can see if there is actually anybody running behind me!
Ben was back at the finish line, taking pictures of us again as Angus and I headed to the 5K mark. I watched as the majority of runners in my vicinity went to the left coral to finish their run as I headed right to keep running through. I heard someone call out, "Go dog go!" and it made me smile because I knew he was cheering Angus.
Once I cleared this area to begin my second loop, the route was definitely more empty of runners :) but there were numerous people in front of me setting the pace. I felt good and knew that the next few K would be my optimal time; it was the last few K where I would slow.
Upon reaching a water station, I stopped to give Angus a cup of water and to have a drink myself. It felt like a long stop, but I am sure it was just a matter of seconds. I had to make sure my running partner was hydrated, too!
By this time, the serious, super fast runners were now heading to overlap me and several other runners. These guys can run a 10K faster than I can run a 5K - so impressive! I was starting to feel just a little bit tired at this point, but knew I was not too far from the finish. I also looked at my Garmin and saw that I had completed 8K in just over 53 minutes so "if" this had been an 8K run, I had set a new PR by four minutes! :) :) I started calculating the math and thinking that I just might be in a position to set a new PR in the 10K for myself ...
As I ran closer to the finish line, I could feel myself slowing a bit to conserve my energy for the little hill just before the finish line (which can feel like a big hill when your energy is spent!). This is when I saw my friend again, the learn-to-run coach, standing and ready to cheer me on. I smiled as I ran toward her and called out, "I think I might be setting a PR today ..." :) At that point, she started whooping and really cheering me on, telling me to run faster and pacing beside me for a short distance. This is what I really needed, and motivated by her enthusiastic cheering, I gunned it and ran as fast I could toward the finish, overtaking several runners along the way (Ben said later, wow! You were really running fast at the end there!). As I crossed the finish line, I saw the gun time of 1:10 on the race clock, and I knew then that I had done it! :) :) A new 10K PR for me!
Angus was thrilled to see his master at the finish line waiting for him, and Ben was very enthusiastic about my result, knowing that this would make me very happy. After running multiple races solo, it makes such a difference to have someone there at the finish to congratulate you and cheer your success!
After my cool down and orange/banana munching [everything else had been devoured by the time I got to the tables :( ], we headed back to the vehicle to head home for a hot shower. I asked Ben to take a picture of me and my co-runner, hence the new photo as a header. :)
I am feeling great about this and will no doubt have some reflections after the fact later. Suffice it to say, it was a great run to have the weekend after completing my first half marathon in seven years. :)