At 8 a.m. I met the D.C. Road Runners Ten-Mile group at the Lincoln Memorial. Since our group's coach was out of town, I had agreed to take the slow runners out for a 3- mile loop around the Washington Monument and the reflecting pool.
I was kind of dreading it because I thought if I run slow, then I'll be running slow. And will never get fast. One slow run will do that to you, you know.
But! It. Was. Awesome. Turns out, I know stuff about learning how to run. 'Twasn't so long ago that I was walk/running (hmm, actually I think it was last week!) My group ran probably between 11-12:30 min miles. I ran back and forth and kept up a non-stop litany of advice, encouragement and jokes. My reward? Everyone ran, no one walked, and one deranged person actually told me that I gave great pep talks.
Around 9:30 I headed back to the car to drive home (yes, same car with the cracked thing that's going to blow any minute) and called Bex to doublecheck that we were leaving town at 11:30 to visit Susie and David in Fredericksburg. Ding! Wrong. Turns out we (and by "we" I mean "Bex") had planned to arrive in F'burg at 11:30. F'burg is about 45 minutes south of D.C., which meant we had to leave Bex's by 10:45. I'm about 30 minutes north of Bex—by car. Do the math.
We were a little late.
But we had a great visit with Susie and David, had lunch, chatted about this and that, Bex's move, weddings, travel, jobs and kids. A good time.
(L-R: Bex, Susie, moi. Photo, unbeknownst to her, courtesy Bex.)
We had planned on getting back to D.C. by 3, but that was looking iffy since we didn't leave Fredericksburg 'til 3:30. Bex dropped me at the King St. Station and two Metros and a bus later, I was home by 7 p.m.
Which was a really good thing, since the Rockville Twilighter 8k started at 8:45 and registration closed at 8 p.m. and I had cleverly not pre-registered.
By this point in the day I had eaten: oatmeal (plain!) for breakfast, a veggie burger for lunch, followed by a double iced espresso mocha something. (Did I mention I haven't had caffeine, in oh, 12 years or so?) This was my doping scheme.
For the rest of my nutrition, I ate two pieces of bread and drank some water. Oatmeal, veggie burger, espresso, bread, water. Got it?
The RaceThe first and last time I ran this race was July 17, 2005. It was one of my first races and I remember being a nervous wreck for about a week beforehand. What a difference two years makes. I also remember a Giant Hill that I had to walk up not once but twice.
Since I was early I milled around and noticed a Starbuck's cart handing out some strange espresso concoction with raspberries on top. Score! More caffeine.
Blah blah, we were off! I had my usual race goals: Don't be last and don't walk. Oh, and this was going to be simply a training run, with no racing at all. Of that I was certain.
This is such a fun race. You're surrounded by a few thousand strangers running with you through a quiet suburban neighborhood. The neighbors line the streets, cheering, and spraying the runners with garden hoses. The runners get to watch the sun set, and then run in the dark.
I hooked up with a guy (wow, I never thought I'd be writing that in a race report!) for miles 1 and 2. He worked in a bike store, so we talked bikes for a while. He was laboring but I wasn't. The course is gently rolling and I kept waiting for that big hill, thinking I should hold back for it. I remembered Peter telling me during our 5k to "glide downhill" and pump my arms on the uphills. I FLEW on the downhills and maintained on the uphills. I kept waiting for the Giant Hill that I just KNEW was waiting for me and would reduce me to walking.
I lost Bike Guy after a nice downhill somewhere around mile 2, right around when I decided I was going to race this thing as if my life depended on it.
Mile 3 I thought I could pick it up and I stopped dreading the Giant Hill. I started passing people. What a great feeling! People started walking.
I don't know what happened in mile 4. Apparently my watch stopped. Or, possibly I got worried about finishing strong and slowed down. And there was no Giant Hill. Anywhere.
Mile .97 I flew. I pushed myself. I'd been playing cat and mouse with an older gentleman (yes, my competition consists of old men, people in casts, and children—I take what I can get), and I decided I was taking him down if it was the last thing I ever did. I remembered Laurie saying it's supposed to hurt. I passed the geezer. I passed one chick who was starting to fade and I felt myself wanting to encourage her, but instead made the decision to focus on ME. Screw her! I felt bad for about 1/2 second, but I wanted to give it all I had and I thought this was no place to be thinking about anyone else. Something inside me just clicked.
A volunteer called out: "only 200 feet left, just like halfway around a track" and I picked it up even more, and flew through the chute.
I was elated. I had no idea what my time was but for the first time, I. Loved. Racing. Loved it!! I wanted to call up everyone I knew and tell them but alas, no one was around. Or no one who would actually care.
Except you guys:
Rockville Twilighter 8k, July 21, 2007, age 50
Unofficial time: 53:08 (10:41 min./mile) 51/76
mile 1: 11:00
mile 2: 10:52
mile 3: 10:31
mile 4: 11:11 (no no no no no)
mile .97: 9:32 (yes yes yes yes yes!)
Rockville Twilighter, July 17, 2005, age 48: 58:18 (11:44 min./miles) 60/69
PR: St. Patrick's Day 8K, March 12, 2006, age 49: 52:28 (10:34 min./miles) 80/113