What. A. Race.
Yesterday was amazing. Fantastic. People dream about these kind of days. But before I start the “OMG I love running so much” parade, a little behind the scenes of my ING Hartford experience.
5:15am Wake Up Call
Everything laid out the night before. Notice there is no cold weather gear here…
-Pre-race fuel: Water, hot tea, protein smoothie (protein powder, almond milk, water, frozen strawberries)
-Stretch out a little
-Realize I did not pack for 27degree temps, reluctantly accept I may be wearing my “throw away” long sleeve over my sleeveless race shirt longer than planned
-pin on Bib, put on watch, pull up hair
-Thank goodness I married someone who thinks of things like cold weather gear, gladly put on gloves and ear warmer
-Gather some pre printed race info to read on the 10minute drive there, tie the sneakers, and head on out
7:15am Park ¼ mile away from the park. Start to get pre-race jitters. Ryan brings in the voice of reason, assures me I will not in fact freeze to death, “See, look, people in shorts!”. It didn’t matter that the next person to walk by was in a down jacket and UGGS, it was still comforting.
7:45am After walking over to the park, wait in a line of what seems like a thousand people to use the porter potty pre-race (Goal: NOT to stop at all during the race). Get nervous when race officials come by saying “Please let runners use the bathrooms first, we will be starting in 5-10 minutes”. Glare at the woman in jeans and boots a few people in front of me who does not take the gentleman’s direction. Pee as fast as possible and jog with the rest of the late porter potty visitors to the starting line.
8:05am Get to the start just as the MC is getting people amped up and ready to pull the trigger. Ditch my gloves as I can’t get music started, and watch turned on with my clunky hand warmers. Locate satellites on the Garmin, press play on Pandora, BAM! Starting gun shot, HERE WE GO!
Mile 1 Ok let’s get this party started. So crowded, people dodging to get moving.
Mile 2 Starting to get a little easier to maneuver around people. Still crowded as we move through the city streets
Mile 3 Wow already hit the 5k mark, lets check out my pace now that we’re actually in run mode—“WHAT, 8:15 pace?!? Katie, who do you think you are??” The whole saying, it’s a marathon not a sprint applies here. Literally. Pull back on the reigns. Ooo water! Take some water at the first water stop to try and start a good habit early (a little preview, I suck at race fueling. It ties into my fear of having to visit on-course porter potties).
Mile 4-6 Easing into a good pace, still faster than I think I should be. Hitting around a 9min pace evenly, was planning on a 9:20 pace for today. Feeling really good though so going to try and keep it steady. Only regret right now is that I ditched my gloves. My fingers are frozen. Good news, begin to regain feeling in my toes.
Mile 7-8 Starting to warm up as sun gets higher. Take some more water at mile 7 water stop. Find a girl who seems to be about a second or 2 faster than me but can keep pace. Stay with her for a good 2 miles, keeping me at the faster pace I wanted. As she is GU-ing and sipping from her water belt every 5min, I think a) wow that girl is fueled up and b) I am the opposite extreme Also realize “Holy Shit, if I keep this up, there is a slight possibility I could brake 4hrs!” Get excited, but tell myself that the goal was 4:05-4:10 so that’d be good too.
Mile 9 Hi Ry and Hoffman!! Get so pumped to see cheerleaders!! Ryan tries to take a picture, I just throw my ear warmer headband at him, yell “I love you”, and keep going. I am such a good wife.
Mile 10-12 Seeing them instantly got my adrenaline going and I ran the next few miles around 8:30-8:45. Felt good, but had some doubts about being able to keep up this pace the rest of the way. Turn the corner at mile 11-12ish and see the first place runner run by—he is at mile 21ish at this point. WOW.
Mile 13 Halfway! With a half marathon PR time! At this point we’re on the straight away part of the race that goes out and back so there are block parties going on both sides of the street with people who’s street is closed, they’re not going anywhere for a while, why not have a campfire on your front lawn and serve bloody mary’s? This is awesome. Lots of them have great signs, are loud cheerers, some even have plates of sliced bananas and peanut butter out for the runners (I of course avoid them at all costs, but it’s a nice thought by them 🙂 )! Grab some more water at this stop and some Gatorade. Note: my race day habit is always to start sipping some Gatorade at some water stops halfway through—also note I never train with Gatorade. Runners race rule #1, broken.
Mile 14-17 At this point I’m seeing more and more people running towards me who’ve already made the turnaround. Some of them are powering through and are so inspiring. See Hilary Dionne pass by on the other side, she is the first woman to pass by and ends up being the first woman to cross the finish line. She looks so intense! By this time, my hips and muscles are starting to feel the effects of keeping up this faster than planned pace. But I’m still able to do it and smile because there is still that “break 4, break 4” being repeated in my head. Plus smiling instantly makes a bit of positivity pulse through you.
Mile 18-19 YES, we’ve made a U turn and are heading back. Get to pass by the same sets of cheerleaders who now seem to be cheering louder than before (either because there are more runners running on both sides of the street or because the Bloody Mary’s have been flowing more freely as the morning goes on).
Mile 20 YES in the 20’s!!! Although, my race style is always counting backwards so I’m thinking “YES, only a 10k to go!” I stare longingly at every porter potty I pass (sorry for TMI but hey, if you’re a runner, you feel my pain) but breaking 4hr is so close I can taste it and I know any type of stop could prevent that from happening, so I pray a little, put my mind somewhere else, and run on.
Mile 21 Take water at this water stop, decide this is the last time I’ll grab water. In fact I don’t even want it but realize I should probably drink something so I don’t die. You know you’re mentally a little twisted when your instinct is to not drink anything so you won’t need to stop before the finish. Also maneuver my arm band, headphones, etc while continuing to run so I can ditch my bright yellow long sleeve that served me so well for the bulk of this race. The temps have finally gotten to a point where I’m warm and the weather finally feels like the perfect fall running day.
Mile 22-24 I am so happy. Probably a little delusional too. I’m pushing the pace hard. I feel like it’s taking much more effort than before to keep up the same pace. Then hot pink tank top girl passes me and I make it my goal to keep her in my sights. She’s pushing it, seemingly effortlessly. I’m able to stick near her and realize I’m pacing at 8:50, better than my last few miles of 9:10’s and 9:15’s. Yesss– I’ve got this.
Mile 25 Make the turn for the final stretch. This is some cruel joke. Look up and realize I have no choice but to climb this mountain of a bridge if I want to make it back downtown and to the finish line. End up running next to a couple who’ve been with me for the past few miles and feel like keeping pace with them is actually pulling me up this hill. Get to the top and realize that we’re in the home stretch. Let’s F-ing do this.
Mile 26 Running into the city, more and more spectators means I’m that much closer to the finish line. Turn the corner to be pleasantly surprise by a nice decline. OMG it’s Mom, Ryan, and Hoffman!!! Mom freaks out a bit and tries to get camera happy. I am not in the right state of mind to accommodate her. Ryan jumps out excitedly and says “Under four!!” I get so amped but just say “ah please stop” thinking it will jinx me. Keep running.
Sorry Mom, no time to stop!
Mile .2 Thanks to seeing the best cheerleaders, I pick up the pace to 8:15 even though my hips and legs are started to get seriously annoyed with me. Finally in the corral yards from the finish, see the clock ahead and there is still a “3” in the hour column. So amped up that I push it as hard as I can across the finish mat. I am so happy to be done, to have crossed that finish line so strong, and to have that astronaut silver blanket wrapped around me. Race volunteer places metal around my neck, says “Congratualtions!” I say “Thank you, where are the porter potties?”
Division F25-29 Place: 38/133
Overall Place: 970/2,528
This really was an amazing race. After crossing the finish line I immediately looked like a cripple walking out of the runners corral but was so proud of myself for being able to mentally keep it together. I stayed positive throughout the whole race and was able to push myself harder than I thought was possible.
SO—this recap was incredibly long. But every detail contributed to the outcome.
Me and Ry
Bushnell Park, Hartford, CT
Hoffman, Myself, and Ryan
What was your most challenging/exciting/frustrating/life-changing race? What do you tell yourself to keep yourself going? Do you suck at race fueling too? I love to hear others race stories!
Happy Sunday Everyone!