Thoughts going through my mind during the first 5K:
- I wonder if a police car will be coming around to offer me a ride to the finish line, ala Kelly's first experience doing a 5K?
- Why in the world did I let Jenny talk me into doing this and where is she when I need her? (answer: at the opening ceremonies for Little League with her son...but still!)
- If I can catch up to that woman in the pink shirt, can I get her to tell me that I rock and that I can do this, ala MizFit, when she ran her first half marathon?
- There is no way I can do the second 5K. Jeff can do the bike ride and then we'll slink off.
- What the hell?!? I cross the finish line and I have to keep running to the transition area?!? Don't they know I'm done???
Finally, I didn't hear any more footsteps behind me, and I became filled with dread. You see, this was early - like less than half a mile into the race. We were running on a dirt berm that edged the lake, which was a little tricky - not the smooth pavement that I'm used to - and when we got to the end of it, there were race officials directing us to turn into the park. I caught one of the official's eye and he called out "Great job!" In return I said "Please tell me there is someone behind me" and he just clapped his hands and said "You're doing great!"
Oh.my.god. I was LAST. All alone. It was the worst feeling - I kept checking my pace on my Nike+ Sportsband, and it was decent (for me) - but I was so far behind everyone! There was one woman in a pink shirt ahead of me, and I kept thinking I would catch up to her but that never happened. When I got to the water station, which was at Mile 2, they had already started cleaning up the cups that were littering the road! I took some water, but felt bad at the prospect of throwing the cup onto the road (which is one of my favorite parts of a race - sanctioned littering) so I ended up tossing it into the trash can a little way up the road.
I just kept running, planning how I could talk Jeff into leaving after he rode the bike part, because there was no way I was going to be able to finish the second 5K before the race course was closed.
Finally, back on the dirt berm heading toward the finish line, I caught up to a woman - not the one in the pink shirt, but a woman in a swirly-patterned tank top. It wasn't that I had sped up; rather, she had slowed down. I was able to pass her with about a quarter mile left...so I ended up coming in second-to-last for the first 5K portion of the race. I knew Jeff was wondering if I was ever going to finish - he had to stay in the "transition" area where the bikes were, and I had to run there to transfer the timing chip to him, since we were a relay team. He strapped it onto his ankle and took off.
I think I was a little shell-shocked after Jeff rode off. In all of my previous races, I was nowhere NEAR last...and there were always plenty of people around me, not to mention that I had somebody to run with which makes a HUGE difference! Just having someone to say "we're doing great" and "we can do this" to is so nice and I really missed that with this race. Being last wasn't so much a blow to my ego as it was just.so.shocking...have I really been running these past few months? I thought I was doing ok, and actually improving - but this let me know that I am waaaay behind the true runners.
Brad and Kelly (another of his clients) came over to talk with me and try to help me regroup. I got some water and my package of Shot Bloks - if there was ever a time for physical and mental energy, this was it! Brad ended up going back into the transition area to wait for his partner to come in on the bike. Kelly stayed with me and I have to give her a lot of credit - she talked me down from the ledge and I began to think that I could do the second 5K. Pretty soon her partner, Rina (another client) came in on her bike and off Kelly ran. Rina and I chatted and watched the first relay team finish while we were waiting for Jeff to come in. Anyway, I mentioned how much harder I found this to be without a running partner, and without batting an eye, Rina said "I'll run with you" - can you believe that?!? What a relief - just knowing that even though I was going to be last again, at least I would have someone to run with made a huge difference - my feet felt lighter and my spirits were definitely soaring!
Jeff came flying in on his bike - I ran over to get the chip timer and he told me that he passed several bikers, which was great news! Rina and I took off running down that dirt berm again, but it was a whole different experience this time. She cracked jokes and we talked and it was wonderful - she kept up a running (haha) commentary on the other runners and where we were in the course. It was funny when Kelly, who was running toward us (coming in for her finish), saw Rina - she was all "what are you doing out here?!" but I'm sure she figured it out pretty quick. Rina and I ran and ran - it's weird to run the same course again, btw. As we rounded the last big loop, I looked behind us and saw no one and said "son of a bitch, I'm last again!" (but really, I didn't feel as bad as I did the first 5K) - and what do you know...all of a sudden, we saw another runner who was way behind us...and then another one, and another one...Rina kept count - there were twelve people behind me! I WASN'T LAST!!! What a relief! Back on the dirt berm again (say that in a Forrest Gump voice for maximum effect), we were running toward the finish. Kelly had come out part way and ran in with us. Jeff has also come out with the camera to take some pictures...and I ran toward the finish line with my posse! Now that is the way to end a race!!!
Oh...and guess what? I ran the entire second 5K - which means that I ran both 5K's without walking - woohoo!!! Stats: first 5K - 37:00; bike - 46:52; second 5K - 37:34. Crazy how even the two 5K's were, right?
I know this is a long post, but of course I have to put in some pictures. Thanks for reading this far - now you get to the easy part!
Obligatory pre-race porta-potty stop (please note the black strap around my ankle is not a house arrest monitoring bracelet but rather my timing chip!)
Here is the older man who I was going to be kind to and keep company - NOT. Lol, I just noticed he had a knee brace and I still couldn't keep up with him!
Me trailing pink shirt to the finish...Running into the transition area - NOW pink shirt walks? She couldn't have done that for just a tiny bit during the 5K?!?
Pedal fast, Jeff!Jeff coming back in - um, yeah, lots more bikes compared with the other picture!Rina and I coming down the dirt berm toward the finish...it was a loooong dirt berm!
Look - there are runners behind me!Finished at last - Rina and Kelly behind me - thanks, ladies, for the encouragement!!!Rina and I - I cannot thank her enough for running that second 5K with me!Kelly and I - she made me believe I could actually do the second run...Did I mention that Rina and Kelly WON the female relay category?!? Way to go, ladies!!!