The race day went off without a hitch! I had worried all week that I was going to be agnoizingly slow, I had been dealing with shin splints, sore hips, and too much stress at work, so decided to train less and recover more. I had the goal time written down, the training plans, the progress updates, but then you know, life happened and I had to accept my brain might make plans my body wasn’t up to carrying out. Motivation and goals are one thing, laziness and over training are too different things, and a smart person can tell the difference.
So I went in to the race hoping for the best, planning on giving it my all, and with no niggling pains or pulled muscles in my legs. It started early, I was to be running at 7:30, so up early and trying to get things up and running without eating or drinking too much. It was 6 degrees and clear skied, with little wind, but 6 degrees is pretty cool. I bundled up and head out to catch the bus, leaving a ten minute walk up to warm up. It wasn’t quite dawn but the sun wasn’t so high either, and there were not so many people around at the bus stop. I saw two motocycles and a dirt bike roar by, the motorized patrol for the race. A bus went by full of men dressed in running clothes, arriving at the second stage start to warm up early. There were men with bright orange jackets, ready and waiting at their stations to keep everyone on track. The only people around were involved with this race, and that was something special.
We got off the bus and headed into the woods, our track was for women only, and with the sharp sunlight painting peoples shadows stark. It was an odd moment, every where you looked were women in neon heading up into the woods, single file, not speaking to each other, disappearing into the woods. Some sort of odd female pilgramage. In the woods the road was obvious to follow, we got passed by the mountain bike patrol, passing in twos, and down the other side of the road left the men. Kind sweet dudes carrying their ladies warm gear to the other end so they wouldn’t have to wait for the trucks. A few hundred women were already lined up at the starting line, listening to a man with a megaphone getting them all pumped up. I took off my puffy, relunctantly, but kept the gloves, straightened my number, and went off to join the bouncing mass.
This was my first ever race with a real start. It was exciting.
The gun went off and forward we went. I went through a cleared fire pit, around a big rock and some photographers, dodged the stairs and we were onto the road. Elbows and shoulders abound, but the start was downhill and I wanted to move freely and enjoy the rush before I was panting and gasping for breath. This entailed running down the sides of the trails, ducking under branches, skipping through the rain gutters, dodging left and right. It was probably the fastest kilometer I have ever run, and it was exhilarating. I probably paid for it later in the race, but enjoyed the speed and sensation.
It was going well, I was siked, and told myself to hold it in, and pace myself, and it would keep going well. I had gone to bed with a sore throat, and it was feeling pretty damn dry by ten minutes in. I probably sounded like an old arthritic fire breathing dragon, but it was going so I kept at it. I had thought I had read the race profile well, but misjudged a few of the hills, and I took a few strategic walk breaks. They paid off and I finished the race hard, pushing it and passing people for a fierce finish. I beat my goal time, a feat even a day before I would have said was unlikely, and now just had to find Florian to pass along the snap bracelet.
This is always chaos. 900 teams, so 1800 people either finishing or waiting to start. Lined up by starting number technically, but in reality more chaos than anything. People cutting left to hand off the batons and then strolling lazily beside the tape as if no one else was around, confused yelling, sun shining in the eyes and a lot of yelling. I had a plan for the hand over. Florian had really big hair. A big bushy ponytail. I figured it would make him stand out. I ended up leaping quite aggressively at a few other big haired fellows, but nope, wrong dudes. Eventually I just stopped and yelled his name. He appeared, we laughed, awkwardly high fived and snap bracelet exchanged, and off he was for his stretch, and me to find something to drink and German Boy who had gotten up early to drop into the lab and cheer me on at my finish, which was really awesomely cool! It turns out he had gotten a haircut the day before and chopped off all his hair, no wonder it was so hard to find him :-).
I beat my goal time by a whole minute, and bested my personal best in training by 5 minutes!
I stuck around to watch the fast group finish, we were split into two groups, with slow and fast, we were slow, the first girl in the section came in around 14 minutes for 4 km which was pretty bad ass. I waited for my coat and froze, but it finally arrived, and with the last person crossing the line I headed off home for a well deserved session with my foam roller, a shower, and a nap. The muscle pain wouldn’t start until almost bedtime, but today I really feel pretty sore. Understatement. But. I have no sore joints only sore muscles, beat my goal time, and am feeling on top of the world.