Race #30: complete.
With morning temperatures already in the 80s and humidity hovering around 2,000,0000,000%, the PR Races’ Firecracker 5K in Virginia still drew a huge crowd.
It also drew the fabled 30@30 CTC Running Squad (CTC = Chip-Time Champions). Murat,
Dathania Kat, Kelli, and Brendan all Voltroned’ up with me to try and score some team points in the final race of the campaign.
The day went better for some than others.
After arriving early and getting in a solid warmup (dynamic stretching, two-mile jog, more dynamic stretching, a few drills), I was drenched in sweat and probably more dehydrated than I let myself believe. Jess and Russ kept me company while I got my gear set up. Singlet, Run Gum, arnica cream, headphones, shades.
The start of the race seemed to arrive faster than anticipated.
I felt reasonably ready. Despite a few weeks of training that consisted primarily of intervals and heavy weights (focused on weight loss), I felt like I would be ready to run decently. The previous race on this course was one of the best of the campaign.
My plan was to run the first mile in about 6:10. The second mile is a general net-downhill, so I hoped to run that in about 5:45, and then would just try and push through the final mile (80% of which was uphill).
I fired up my music – mostly so that I wouldn’t hear my own heavy breathing, which always psychs me out.
Gun sounds. Let’s go.
During the first mile, I felt okay. About a mile in, my watch beeped 6:15. Not terrible, but not great. My quads felt heavy and my calves were sore from all of the track work and lifting.
I saw Jess and Russ on the side of the road which gave me a slight boost.
Then, things got progressively worse. Like, much worse.
I wouldn’t say I “blew up”, though that is the running term for what happened.
Instead, I felt like I very quickly withered away.
My legs had no power and my turnover felt forced and difficult. My foot started to hurt (oh, hello again, plantar faciitis). At about the halfway point, things got even worse.
I felt heavy and bloated, like I was carrying around a fanny pack full of marbles. Every stride was a struggle and I felt like I was losing, not gaining ground.
Two miles in I was exhausted. I had slowed down tremendously during the very mile I was planning to pick things up: 6:45 for mile two.
Runners were starting to pass me one by one. I had thought that I had began far enough back from the starting line that it would be unlikely that anyone would pass me. (I suppose if I had been running at PB pace, that would have been true.) Instead, I was continuously getting passed and had nothing in the tank.
I felt like I was going to throw-up. I immediately switched my focus from running a decent time to simply finishing the race and not stopping/walking.
I slugged through the last mile. More runners continued to pass me and not even my playlist could save me. I tried some running techniques. Counting, thumb-tapping, positive talk. Nothing. My mind would immediately drift back to the pain.
At about the third mile marker, I saw Jess and Russ once again. They could tell I was not looking good.
I did manage to pick up the pace slightly over the last 0.1, but my final mile was a disastrous 7:15. I ran through the finish line and nearly collapsed.
My time was a pedestrian 21:04 – just a few weeks after running 18:42 over the same distance. I barely cracked the top 100 – finishing 99th overall (out of 1,578). I was so relieved to be finished.
I staggered around and grabbed waters for the rest of the squad. Importantly, Murat, Kat, Kelli, and Brendan had each run very strong races in the heat.
After dowsing myself in water and debating sticking my head into the garbage-bin full of Gatorades, I found Jess and Russ and we joined the group for a photo.
The final 30@30 race photo:
The race didn’t go as planned, but it went.
30 races complete.
I’ll need some time to reflect on the accomplishment. In the coming weeks, I hope to ink a few summarizing blog posts, touching on subjects ranging from what I learned along the way (about running and otherwise), ranking my performances and various events, recommending the best gear/books/etc. that I found throughout the year, what my future plans are (should I keep this running blog alive?), sharing some photos, and much more.
So stay tuned.
Meanwhile, we are closing in on $30K. We have about $3.5K to go. If you haven’t made a pledge yet, please consider doing so here. It just takes 23 seconds.
Thanks, as always, for the support. In so many more ways than one.