Saturday, November 17, 2012

2012 Rothman 8k Race

Remember how I was training for the Rothman 8k race?  Well, today was the big day!  It was time to put my (half-assed) training to the test...  

The morning started with a 5:45am wake-up alarm and me finally rolling out of bed just after 6am.  Honestly, I don't even get out of bed that early on weekdays normally.  Needless to say, I was NOT in the mood to go for the longest (tied with last year's race) run in my life in the bitter cold (36 degrees F) this early in the morning.  I begrudgingly threw on the clothes I laid out the night before (Nick assured me that you can never wear too much pink), wolfed down a "cocoa-almond quinoa breakfast bake" bar (with chia seeds substituted for hemp seeds, and flax meal instead of almond meal), and tightened my laces.  Off we went.

We got to the race early, and Nick stood close to keep me warm.  He wasn't running this year (I'm pretty sure running the marathon last year has turned him off from running for life), but he came to cheer me on and take pictures.  The poor guy-- I complained straight from 6:30am until the race started at 7:30... and he put up with me.  It was too cold.  My hip was too stiff.  It was too early.  I was too tired.  I hate running.  This sucks.  I'm nervous.  At least it's a clear day... 

At least it was a pretty day.

...But it's too cold!  And my hip hurts.  Why did I sign up for this again?

Then, it was time to line up (with all 1,886 other runners).  The national anthem was sung, and things started to feel real.  During gymnastics, I always used to count and make sure there were 50 stars on the flag as the anthem played (a coach once said it was good luck), but I couldn't find the flag this time.  Instead, I said a little prayer to thank the volunteers/organizers/supportive friends and families and to ask God to look after everyone's health during this race.  I also asked for a boost of endurance...

Then, they played the Rocky theme song, the semi-official pump-up song of Philadelphia.  Who doesn't feel motivated by this song?  That was the moment when my nerves turned into excitement.  I was about to run the longest (tied with last year's race) distance in my life, and I was about to accomplish a goal.  My goal was to beat my time from last year (44:59, 9:03 average pace) and run an average of sub-9 minute miles.  I've never done that before, but I told myself I could.  The adrenaline was kicking in just in time.  There went the air gun!

Long distance view from the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps ("Rocky" stairs) of the race start.

We were off!  While I will probably always claim that I hate running and cardio, I actually kind of enjoy races; the atmosphere is hard to beat.  There is a sense of unity and a collective energy that is so inspiring.  Everyone is encouraging.  I had random people say "Go Sarah!" as I ran by (our race bibs said our names).  I gave Mayor Nutter a high five.  I gave a random guy on the sideline a high five.  I thanked the water station volunteers.  I gave Nick two thumbs up.  Cow bells and claps and hoots and hollers came from the dedicated friends and families supporting their favorite runners.  I smiled.  (Wait, I smiled... while running?)

Two thumbs up and a smile!

Every 5 minutes, my iSmoothRun app kept me updated on how I was doing.  Average pace of 8:37 for the first five minutes?  Thank you, adrenaline.  Don't think I can keep that up, though.  Wait, I'm still at an average of 8:45 pace at the halfway point?  How can that be?  I'm normally around 9:20 average pace when I run on my own.  I may actually beat my goal!  And I still feel... great?!  I'm running, and I feel great?  I guess God delivered on that prayer for an endurance boost!

I continued to concentrate on short, quick steps, as I learned from the book Born to Run.  It was working. At 35 minutes I was already at 4 miles.  I was cruising!

I crossed the finish line with a final chip time of 43:20, which puts me at an average of 8:43/mile pace.  I squashed my goal! I'm really proud of myself for what I accomplished.  

Yesterday, when I went to the expo to pick up my bib, I started to feel a little down.  The expo is geared towards the half- and full-marathoners, not the measly 8k runners.  Who cared if I ran 4.97 miles when thousands of people on Sunday were going to run more than 2.5 or 5 times that?

I care, and that's what matters.  I also know that my family cares, and Nick cares, and Nick's family cares.  I have a lot of supporters.

Well, now it's finally all over (until I sign up for my life-goal 10k and have to start training again).  I want to give a public thank you to Nick for capturing the moment on camera for me and being there for support before, during, and after the race.  I'd also like to thank my super-cute hot pink Asics for supporting my feet and not rubbing them the wrong way.  Good luck to all of tomorrow's runners!

I did it!

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