It’s time for the race recap. It’s been ages since I wrote one of these. I have fortified myself with a glass of wine in hopes that I can type a race report that’s as engaging as the race itself. Here goes.
Pre-race: I get pre-race jitters pretty bad and the Shamrock Run was no exception. My mom sent me plenty of encouraging emails throughout the week in an effort to raise my confidence. On Friday I received the following email:
Heather – Less than 48hours to 2010 return of the competitive fiesty footed heather beast!!! [sic]
How cute is that? I’m not sure that I’m a Feisty Footed Heather Beast just yet but I want to be one! My mom’s grammatically incorrect and enthusiastic fandom is something I’ve sorely missed these past months. (Thanks, Mom!)
Sunday Morning: I have an eclectic pre-race routine. The alarm goes off at 6:17 AM and I announce to the room, “It’s Race Day!”. I press snooze, roll over and fall back asleep. The alarm clock buzzes again and I announce again, with enthusiasm. “It’s Race Day!” This time I get myself out of bed. I haul myself to the shower. I make some coffee, lay out my race necessities, blow dry my hair and get myself all prepped. I go through my mental checklist: lucky earrings? favorite socks? hat? timing chip? yep, I’m good to go.
7:45 AM: I leave my apartment and walk down to the Portland waterfront. I stop for a double Americano at one of my favorite coffee haunts, take advantage of their bathrooms and give myself a little pep talk. There is NO reason to be nervous, Heather. This is just for fun.
8:25 AM: It looks like the entire Portland population has come out to run, jog, walk or cheer. Everyone seems happy, excited or hungover. Unlike last year when it poured, the weather this morning is calm, bright and cold. It’s great racing conditions and my legs are feeling pumped to be back in action.
8:40 AM: I leave my backpack with my one-man support crew, begin my warm up and make the obligatory trip to the porta-potties. While my legs may be pumped for the race, my stomach is awash in nervous, convulsing cramps. Oh god, why hasn’t this gotten better during my sabbatical? I had forgotten just how queasy I can feel in the moments before the race start. My warm up doesn’t get me very warm, but it does get me excited. I circle back, drop off my extra layers and line up along with thousands of other 8k runners. I decide to line up behind the 7-8 min/mile sign and hope that I don’t make a fool of myself. I’m not really sure what I’m capable of right now. An 8:00 min/mile pace certainly seems doable. I think that maybe I might be in the 7:30 min/mile range which wouldn’t be bad either!
9:00 AM: The race gun goes off, I cross the timing mat and start my wristwatch. My heart thuds with adrenaline. I have forgotten what the beginning of a race feels like. My heart is pounding but my legs feel comparatively lethargic. My mind is yelling, “Go!!!” but my body refuses to cooperate. Part of me is trying to hold back while the other part of me wants to sprint away. It’s a strange feeling and it takes just about a mile for my body and heart to adjust.
Mile 1: Mile one twists and turns through downtown Portland. The pack of runners thins out quickly and within just a few minutes I find that I don’t have to struggle to move ahead of other runners. I feel simultaneously fast and slow. As I near the mile marker I remember that I need to keep the pace for another 4 miles. It feels like a daunting task. Mile split: 7:04.
Mile 2: The second mile is a continuous up-hill grade. It isn’t all that steep, but it’s definitely noticeable. I’m working harder and going slower. I realize that It’s clear I’ve lost the ability to accurately gauge my pace. I feel slower in the second mile but I can’t tell just how much slower. Am I too slow? Am I too fast? Am I going to bonk gloriously in the next mile? Who knows!? Mile split approx. 7:20
Mile 3: It’s still slightly uphill, but I’ve found a good pace and I’m focusing on passing runners in front of me. I remember that this is my first race back and I smile. My only complaint is that I should have run the 15km race instead. Mile split approx. 7:24
Mile 4: It’s downhill and I’m working hard. Mile split 6:45
To the finish: The finish line is there. I can see it, but it is awfully far away. I try to put in some extra juice but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to last. I hear the announcer yell, “ALLRIGHTT 8k finishers, pump those arms.” or at least he said something like that. And so I pump my arms and try to pick up the pace, and try as I might other runners pass me in the last quarter mile. I try to keep up but my kick just isn’t very strong. Go go go. A feeling of nausea rises as I close in on the finish line. I hear Brian call, “Go, Heather, Go!” I pump my arms and push to the finish. Blarrrgh! I stop my watch and smile. I gag and upchuck a bit into my mouth. Yeah, it’s gross, but it’s also a sign that I’ve pushed myself to my limits for this race. As I recollect my wits I realize I’ve done much better than I expected. I ran strong. I ran happy and I ended the race with a mouth full of vomit. It’s a good first race for the Great Comeback of 2010.
8 km: 35:11
Average Mile Pace: 7:01
Results: 29th female overall. 11th in age group