My girl Taylor Swift has a song out right now Today Was a Fairytale.
I like it...but it couldn't be a further from the truth if I were describing the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10k. More like "Today Was a FAIL."
Really, I'm being dramatic. But as fun as it is to read great race reports, admit it, sometimes its more exciting to read about an "off day."
So, I developed a cough on Monday. Not sure if this is due to a cold or allergies. But it doesn't sound good. I had been taking Advil Cold & Sinus, but I ran out of that on Thursdsay. On Friday my friend Melissa (who I signed up for the race with) called me to let me know she couldn't run the 10k anymore because she has Tonsillitis :(
My right hip and left foot are still hurting from the half marathon :-/ A normal person would just raise their imaginary white flag and say "I surrender." Oh no, not I. I decided I'd survive. I asked my friend Rebecca if I could run with her family. We tried to meet up, but it was just too many people and it didn't work out.
It took me 3.5 HOURS TO DRIVE HOME ON FRIDAY. (It should take 1.5-2 to get from DC to Richmond, VA. On Thanksgiving it took me 3 hours, so that length of time is absolutely ridiculous not being a holiday. I heard a street sign fell down on the beltway near where I live. So let's partially blame that.) My original plan was to go to the race expo before March Madness even started. The Ohio State-Tennessee game started before I made it to Richmond :(
When I finally got to the expo it was around 8:10 P.M. The Expo ended at 9:00 P.M. so I didn't have high hopes my size shirt would still be there. I got a "leftover" 2009 bag and a size large t-shirt (I ordered a small). I know it's my fault for not getting there earlier, but at the same time I paid $30 for the race...which should have communicated to the race organizers "Order Me a Small T-Shirt" and "I need a 2010 race bag." I guess races are really like flights and they are "overbooked" to cut costs. At least in this economy.
The weather was expected to be a chilly 35 degrees F at race start. I didn't have an Under Armour top so I decided I was going to try to buy one Friday night. I got to Dick's Sporting Goods at 9:40 P.M. Wouldn't you know Dick's actually closes at 9:30 P.M. FAIL. I decided I'd check Target for a knock-off variety. Target only had running tank tops.
I settled on wearing one of my brother's snow boarding shirts and went to bed.
I probably should have acknowledged a pattern of "Hey, nothing seems to be going my way." But it wasn't until I was actually participating in the race...that I realized overall this was not going to be an enjoyable experience for me. Even if it was for the majority of people in Richmond.
I had a spot at the beginning of my wave. I took off trying to run at a pace I could "maintain the whole race." I looked at my stopwatch at the mile marker it said 8:44. "Oh shit" was my only thought. "I need to slooooow down." I wanted to average about 10 min/mi until the end.
I hit this mile around 19 something so that was more "like it." The only problem was my calves felt tight AND I started coughing uncontrollably :( I wasn't "fine." I was sick. I paused for a second to stretch my calves on the smallest curb I've ever seen and kept running. After going a little bit farther still coughing I thought "What am I doing? This is dumb. I'm going to make myself more sick than I already am."
I was on the left side of the road at this point. I couldn't believe this was happening. I basically meandered aimlessly to the right side of the road (in the middle of tons of people trying to do the 10k in about an hour. One guy almost hit me.) Once on the sidewalk I started unpinning my number. Not that you have to take your number off to quit, I guess it was symbolic? Or I was embarrassed to be wearing a half marathon t-shirt and quitting a 10k (whether coughing fits were a good reason or not.) And I guess I was discarding the fact that my spandex and shoe chip were dead giveaways I wasn't a spectator. I walked the opposite direction of the race toward the starting line for maybe 10 steps.
I THEN thought about my friends asking me about my finishing time. This blog. Getting a DNF. And how hard it would be to find my parents. Sadly it might have been the difficulty of finding my parents that really pushed my decision over the edge. But I did come to the decision "I'm too stubborn to quit." I pinned my number back on with the three safety pins I still had, did two very deep lunge stretches on the sidewalk, and started running (in the right direction).
I think I thought I was at the 2 mile mark... I didn't realize I was actually pretty close to the 3 mile mark...
I hit this at 32:something. The 5k mark according to race results says 33:08. That's SO BAD! But in my mind it was all now a numbers game and I could work with it. I had to beat the 1:05:45 I got last year six days after the Shamrock Half and I would at least know I had improved.
I think my watch said either 42 or 43. I decided I needed to drink something. I forced myself to drink a cup of Powerade then kept running. This must have helped with my cough. Or I just blocked the fact that I felt bad/was coughing out of my mind temporarily.
Right before I saw the mile marker I saw a friend from college spectating. I told her "I feel like crap" [With a smile on my face. I couldn't help but be amused at how ridiculous this little race had become for me] her response was "You're almost done!" TRUTH. I think my watch said either 52 or 53 minutes.
This race wasn't about a PR. It was about finishing in less than 1:05 and not getting something even worse.
I told myself I was going to walk briefly at the 5 mile mark and then give it everything I had to finish. Which is what I did.
The whole time talking to myself (I'm pretty sure out loud. Ahh..I'm such a NERD.)
"Come on Meredith. You've got this! Only one more mile. This is what you wanted to do at the Shamrock. Take off. This is your chance. One more mile"
The weird thing is the Monument Ave 10k is more of a "community race" than something the majority of participants take seriously. i.e. (Finishing is more important than finishing times.) A lot of people sign up for the wrong "waves" and had run out of steam at this point. Some were walking right in the middle of the street with iPods on. Others weren't running very fast. I was weaving around all of these people. I at least realized "I know how to finish." I went as fast as I could (not 8:44/mi fast. But I think my pace had to have been under 10:00 min/mi... since I finished in 1:03:14.)
I for a second almost cried happy tears when I saw the 1:03 on my watch. I was so glad to be done. And I had beaten my time from last year when I just jogged the thing 6 days after a half marathon. Obviously, I have it in me to do better than this. And better than my PR from college of 1:02:54 (since unpinning one safety pin could have taken up to 20 seconds...)
But, all things considered. I'll take it. I'll sign up for a 10k that doesn't fall the same week as a half and hopefully I'll be well next time. Until then, I'll take it!
*Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, I had ran since the half. I went on a 2 mile run Wednesday in 19:12.