Between the family reunion last weekend and then my second week of leading a training class, this race report is really late—sorry!
I was up late last Friday night making my cappuccino brownies for my family reunion, and it was close to midnight by the time I got to sleep. Thankfully, the Allen Park 10k had a 9am start, so I was able to sleep until 6am and get the kids up at 6:30 with the intent to leave for my sister’s by 7am. Of course my intent and the reality never seem to coincide. 😛 We didn’t get out of the house until 7:15, but I got to my sister’s by 7:35, which was only 5 minutes late.
As I mentioned in my last post, I had 10 miles on the schedule for Saturday, and my intent was to run to the race start from my sister’s house (about 4 miles) and then run the 10k (6.2 miles). And that’s what I did. Of course, I chose to do it in my race attire, which caused my sister and brother-in-law to do a double-take. 😉
My family hasn’t gotten used to my racing costumes yet, it seems. 😛
I got out on the road by about 7:40, figuring I’d still be able to get to the race start at 8:30 and have a half hour to rest and chat with my brother before the race started.
I got a few stares from people as I ran through the streets of Allen Park in my lime green sparkly tulle skirt, but it didn’t bother me a bit. I got a few smiles, too, so it all works out. 🙂 I had a nice, easy run with an average pace of 10:56. I forced myself to slow down and even walk once, because I was really determined to hold race pace (9:55) for the actual 10k, and I didn’t want to tire myself out ahead of time.
I was just about to the race start when I hit four miles, and I was very much ready to use the bathroom and then hang out with my brother for half an hour. I reached down to grab my towel and wipe my sweaty forehead, but…it wasn’t there. 🙁 I looked all over, thinking it was caught in my skirt or something, but I realized that I must have dropped it along the way.
Now, before you think I’m crazy, you have to understand that this is a special towel. It’s actually a burp cloth that I used with both of my boys, and I consider it to be irreplaceable. It even says “I’m a Gerber baby” on it. So of course, I HAD to run back and get it. I was running out of time, so I hurried back down the road, trying to retrace my steps. I was getting really panicked as I ran, because I was just not finding it, but then, I rounded a corner and saw a happy sight.
I know it’s pathetic, but I was really happy to find that towel! So happy, in fact, that I took time to snap a photo, even though I was running really late. 😛
Unfortunately for me, the towel was more than ¾ of a mile back, so by the time I had gotten it and hurried back to the race start, I’d gone not 4 miles as planned, but actually 5.64! Argh.
I found my bother with 15 minutes to spare, and then, to my surprise, I found our cousin (other side of the family, so not part of the reunion). Turns out she was running the 5k, and my aunt and her brother were also there! We had to get a few pictures, of course.
While it was fun to see family, between my extra-long run and the photo ops, and I had NO time for a bathroom break. 🙁 Nothing like running 6 miles with a full bladder!!
My brother and I started out in the 9-10 minute mile group. He said he’d start with me and stay with me for as long as he could until his knee began to hurt, and I was glad to be able to start the race with him. We got one last shot together at the starting line before the race started.
They had an actual starting gun for this race—my first time for that! When we started off, we were going really fast (sub-9!), and I continually told my brother, “We have to slow down! This is too fast for me!” He was happy to oblige, and as we slowed down, lots of runners passed us. I mean, lots. Pretty soon, we were by ourselves—it seemed like all of the racers were far ahead of us! When we rounded the first corner, I turned to look behind me and was somewhat mollified to see that there were still plenty of folks behind us…we just happened to be in a lull. Ironically, right after I saw that, my brother said, “If you’re worried that we’re last, don’t be. I just looked and saw all kinds of people behind us.” I laughed and told him great minds think alike!
I did my best to maintain a 9:55 pace, but it was just not meant to be. I think that the 5.6 miles that I’d run before I got to the race just did me in, and I simply could not keep up race pace, and I realized it pretty quickly. I decided early on to just do my best, and to try to stay around a 10:10 pace, and I was able to do that okay. I struggled a lot, though, and I can honestly say if my brother hadn’t been with me, I might have given up and slowed down much more.
As it turns out, though, my pace was really not the most important thing about this race. One thing you probably need to understand is that my brother and I have not always had the best relationship. He is, after all, my big brother, and he definitely treated me like the “little sister.” In short, he was a big meanie for most of my life! 😛 Even as adults, he has always teased me mercilessly, and he has not exactly been my biggest supporter. In fact, he was the sibling that gave me the nickname “Studies At Lunch” because I was quite the studious kid (aka, nerd), and it then became a family joke. :/
Based on past experience, I was a bit worried about what running a race with my brother would be like. While I knew he wasn’t up to his usual physical abilities because of his injured knee, I knew that, for the most part, he was in much better shape than me, and I was kind of half-expecting him to lord that over me. He’s a triathlete, after all, and he still goes on 25-mile bike rides with ease. I also worried about what he’d say about my skirt. I fully expected the usual teasing, because my brother never lets an opportunity like that go by.
What I was not prepared for, however, was how great my brother was throughout the entire race. Not only did he not give me any flack about my struggles in keeping up, he encouraged me and stuck with me the whole way, even when I was tired. His cardiovascular endurance was amazing, because he didn’t just keep up with me, but he told me story after story the whole way. I heard about his triathlons, his visit to Detroit’s Masonic Temple the day before, and his experiences as a leader of his son’s Boy Scout troop.
In addition to his amazing endurance was his attitude through the whole race. I discovered that my brother is actually my kind of runner—he thanked every volunteer as we passed them, and he joked and laughed with racers and volunteers alike. As for the skirt—well, he not only didn’t criticize it, he embraced it! Several times after I heard someone call out, “Nice skirt!”, my brother responded with things like, “She borrowed it from me!” or “Next time I get to wear it!” It was so nice to have someone in my family exhibit such a positive and approving attitude of my outgoing nature. 🙂
At one point not long after mile two, we passed a girl about 8 years old, standing on the curb with a hose streaming out in front of her for all the runners to enjoy if they wished. My brother and I thanked her profusely as we ran through. The course was actually a double-loop, so we passed the girl again when we were nearly done…only, the little girl had been replaced with a woman in her 50s. My brother called out, “Hey! Weren’t you an 8-year-old girl last time?” The woman laughed and made a comment about the girl going to watch her sister at the finish line, but then a nearby volunteer called out, “It’s the same girl! It just took you that long to get back around!” My brother and I laughed loudly and decided that was the best joke of the race. 😉
When we got close to the finish line, I was really, really tired. I guess running almost 6 miles before doing a six-mile race was finally taking its toll. 😛 I had walked through most of the water stations, and I was really considering walking through the last one, which was at about mile 5.5 or so. However, I knew my brother didn’t need the break, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to start up again if I stopped, so I plodded on by. My brother could see that I was tired, and he began to make jokes to motivate me.
“There’s no one ahead of us!” he pointed out. “That means we’re winning!” (Actually, it meant that all the fast people were way ahead of us.) “We’re a Greek god and goddess on our way to triumph!” It was hard not to laugh at that kind of enthusiasm. 😉
By the time we rounded the last corner, I was just about done, mentally and physically. We could see the finish line in front of us, and my brother continued with his cheerleading. “That’s not the finish line! It’s the Arc de Triomphe! We’re approaching it in exaltation, like Napoleon!”* (Dramatic, much?) At that point, I’d had enough and I just bit out, “Shut up!” Later, I told Jamie I now completely understood why he gets so angry at me at the end of a race. 😉
We did pass under the Arc…er, arch. I wasn’t able to maintain my 9:55 pace, but I did come in at an unofficial 1:02.50, which was a 10:05 pace. I knew that would be a new PR for me!! I was happy with my time, but mostly I was happy to be done, lol. Unfortunately for us, our family, who was supposed to be there to watch, didn’t get to the race in time, and thus didn’t get our finish line shot. That was actually more important to my brother than to me (I’ve had plenty of finish line shots by now), but when they did finally get there, we all humored him to recreate the shot. 😉
My brother does have a great racing attitude, and I think he deserved the finish-line shot. Plus, it was fun!
After we rested a few moments, the family walked a block over to the street fair, leaving me to go back to my car (which my sister had driven) to change into less-sweaty clothes. Before I left the race area, I wanted to check my “official” time, which I knew would be a bit slower than my Garmin, which recorded me at 6.24 miles instead of 6.2.
They were just finishing up the 10k awards when I got there, and I had to hunt to find the official postings. I looked for my name among the 40-44 year olds and was astonished at what I saw.
I took first place in my age group!!
That’s me with the award I had to go pick up after the fact, lol. I had to have a stranger take the pictures, since my family had all left for the fair by that time!
I still can’t believe I was first, but, as I told my family later, it pays to enter small races. 😀 There were four other women in my age group, and clearly, we were not a super-speedy lot. 😉 I’m not so naïve as to think I would normally be anywhere close to first in a bigger race, but I was pretty proud of myself for sticking with it at the end to hold onto a winning time. I beat the second place lady by only 16 seconds, so clearly my decision not to walk that last water station was a game-changer, ha ha!
Between all my running and walking (including running to the fair to catch up with my family later), I put in over 12 miles of true running on Saturday—which translated to 18 activity points! I ate a whole cappuccino brownie, which I felt I had truly earned. 🙂
Thanks so much for reading this long race recap. I had a great race, and I’m so very glad I did it, not just for the first-place trophy, but more importantly, for the great experience with my brother. 🙂
*If I had been up on my French history (which I looked up later), I would have pointed out to my brother that Napoleon was actually dead when he went under the real Arc de Triomphe.