4th of July Race Weekend Recap:
I did it!!! Everything. All by myself. I've been SO productive this weekend.
Saturday: went to lab...helped clean bunny cages (18 of them) at the foster house...ran errands...weight lifted...felt awesome for getting so much done.
Sunday: Fair St. Louis 10K--the fun begins--woke up at 5:30 a.m. for routine pre-race ritual. Got downtown at 6:30 a.m. and got my bearings. Stretched. Went to the bathroom. Retied shoelaces twice. Stretched again. Went to the bathroom again. By the way, Port-A-Potties are disgusting. Learned how to pee standing up very efficiently.
The 10K race began at 7:30 a.m. There was a perfect number of people. About 200-300 or so. Not too many to be overly crowded but enough to be stimulating. The course was all downtown and consisted of lots of rolling hills. The up-hills were a little tough but there were enough down-hills to recover well. I felt fresh and great. Looked at my watch at mile 1. 8:15 and it felt effortless. The weather was perfect. Mid-70s and lots of shade provided by trees lining the streets.
I learned a new trick. Normally, I skip water aid stations. If the race is hard enough, I bring my own sports drink and wear it on a fuel belt. This time, I didn't bring anything since it was only a 10K but I felt thirsty. Uh-oh. That definitely leads to fatigue. I decided to risk stomach cramps and grab some water at the aid station. I tried to take a sip while running. Water sloshed down my singlet. I slowed to a walk, and took 1 generous gulp. I then dumped the rest of the water over my head to cool off. It worked like a charm. I felt refreshed and pumped up after that. No cramps either! And, the few steps of walking didn't slow me down at all. It was totally worth it for the extra surge of energy. I took advantage of two more aid stations throughout the race.
After the final station, with 0.8 miles left to go, I got an adrenaline surge and picked up the pace, passing a few stragglers ahead of me. With about 1/4 mile left to go, I began to falter. A guy behind me noticed and shouted, "Let's go! You can do it!" His words of encouragement surged through me like an electric shock. It's amazing how interconnected the body is to the mind. I found all this unchanneled energy and focused it into picking up the speed. Guys around me began cheering, surging me forward even more. The effect it had on me was amazing! I passed a guy as I headed towards the finish. I had removed my singlet to help cool off, and he got a good shot of my tatoo on my back as I passed. "Go get 'em Goldfish Girl!" he shouted. That was all I needed. I passed the finish line, shaving a whole minute off my P.R. I may have felt like puking right after, but I felt triumphant. I soaked up my glory under the spray of the fire hose provided by the local fire department.
The rest of the day, I was on fire. I went to lab...gardened for 4 hours...went to lab again...and packed up my race bag for Monday.
Monday: 4th of July Hillsboro Biathlon (5 mile run, 20 mile bike)--woke up at 4:15 a.m...proceeded with pre-race ritual...made sure bike was securely attached to trunk of little Corolla...hopped in the car with a bag of ice strapped to my left hip (from yesterday's race) and 2 Ibuprofen...drove 1 hour, 15 minutes to event site.
Hillsboro, IL is a small farmtown with lots of friendly people with good 'ole, laid-back Midwestern attitude. I had a little trouble finding the courthouse where the race began and ended, but some kind people out walking their dog happily volunteered directions.
The sharp crack of an air pistol signaled the start of the race. I bolted (I hate guns and sudden loud noises) and quickly settled into a relaxed pace. With my tight calves and slightly injured hip, I wasn't going to push it. It was slightly more humid than the day before, lower 80s, with black thunderheads rolling in to prepare for a violent afternoon thunderstorm. The run seemed extremely hilly but I think it was only because my legs were complaining so much after yesterday's race. I took my time, enjoyed the corn fields and sweet, fresh smells of cut hay.
I reached the transition area, wet from dumping cups of water over my head, and casually changed my shoes and fastened my helmet. Casual and relaxed is the way to do it in transition. It actually helps me go faster because I don't feel panicked. I hopped on my bike and took off.
A tailwind pushed me out the first 10 miles so I was able to average about 24 mph. It was awesome. I pushed a higher gear and settled into a comfortable pace. I chuckled at the guys on their $5,000 bikes and $1,000 disc wheels with their shoe covers to take off 6 seconds for reduced wind resistance. Jeez. It's just a little po-dunk race. At the turn-around, I realized how much the tailwind had been helping me as I battled against it for the final 10 miles. I put myself into a more aero position by holding myself in the drop position. I know I'll need aero bars soon, but not yet...not yet. I focused on spinning. My fingers and groin went numb and my legs screamed. I fluttered my fingers, changed gears and shifted around every few miles so as not to get too uncomfortable. On short hills, I stood up in the pedals to let my back rest. My mind was 100% occupied with the here and now...the speed of the bike, how connected I felt to the ground below me, my legs pumping like pistons, how awesome Bluebell was doing (I like to pretend I'm on a racehorse when I bike), and I relished in how much I was enjoying the wind whipping past my ears. My body was going 100%, and it felt awesome.
I was exhausted when I finished (1:51 and change). I was happy with my time. I had done better than I expected. There were only about 100 people at the race but it was a great group (about 70% men and 30% women--multi-sport is very male-dominated). I sought out the few other women there and had great conservations. One woman had duked it out on her hybrid. I have great respect for people that do that. They must be very strong. Everyone was very friendly. It had definitely been worth the solo trip.
I guess the moral of the story is:
a) never be afraid to try things on your own...it's usually well worth the trip.
b) you can probably do more than you think (I guess I'm not as out of shape as I thought)
c) take advantage of water stations and walk through them (small moral, but it helped a ton!)
d) give moral support to others around you; it's unbelievable how much it helps
e) listen to your body; listen to your emotions and psyche--they're connected and always talking to you.
Next up? There's a killer triathlon this coming Saturday at Matoon Beach, IL. Lake swim 0.7 miles, 18 mile bike, and 5 mile run. Can I do it? I don't know. I haven't been in a pool in months. But what if I take it easy and just do it for fun? I know I could swim that far if I take it easy. I want to; it sounds like a lot of fun. I tempted to "tri" for it.