Several weeks ago, I had a conversation with Matt the Reasonable that went something like this:
Matt: When's your next race?
Me: Well, I was looking at one in July, but I am determined to get a
sub-thirty, and I've been waiting to register 'til I feel my running is
better, and I've been pushing the mileage, and...
Matt [grinning through all of this]: I think you should just sign up for a race.
Me: I know...I know...and thing is, most race courses are flatter than what I've been running, so I'd be faster just from that.
Matt: Exactly. So find one!
Me: Okay, okay!!
Anyway, that was the gist of it. That evening, I signed up for the Fab 40's 5K. No excuses!
I've been running treadmill sprints a couple of days a week, and trying for 3-4 longer runs throughout the week, but I'm not going to lie--a combination of extreme heat and a summer teaching job have had me getting fewer miles of late. This week, in particular, all of my running was confined to treadmill sprints, though I did get a lot of miles in on the bike at the gym. So I approached this morning's race with a certain feeling that it might be...difficult.
I felt pretty good to start, and I know enough now about not pushing myself too hard, too fast. I lined up with the 9 minute milers, and I'm pretty sure my first two miles were in the 9:00 to 9:30 range. The course was mostly flat (the tiny inclines were insubstantial for someone who runs in Lincoln Hills all the time, but I noticed other people slowing a bit) and the time on the clock was 19:45 when I reached the 2-mile mark.
The last mile was the hardest. I was determined to run the whole race, no walking--and I almost did. However, that last mile was tough and I could feel myself getting queasy, so I walked for a moment--no more than a tenth of a mile. Finally, I reached the three-mile mark and pushed my speed a bit for the last tenth to the finish.
My stomach started rolling, so I sucked in huge gulps of air and kept pushing. As I approached the finish line, a local radio personality, Big Jim Hall, announced my name among the others who were finishing near my time. The clock read 31:06. A photographer snapped a picture of me as I tiredly sprinted across the finish line, dripping sweat and feeling that awful lurching in my stomach.
I slowed to a walk and tried to take deeper breaths. My stomach continued to protest, and my hand flew up to my mouth...nothing. A minute later, the same. I spied a garbage can straight ahead and made a beeline for it, hoping I wouldn't throw up but pretty sure my stomach was going to insist.
And then, yes, it insisted.
Fortunately, it didn't last long, and no one came running up to fawn all over me. I tried to puke as unobtrusively as possible, and I think I managed...but then, I didn't really stick around long to see if people were staring at me in disgust.
(I know I can't be the only person who throws up after overexerting myself running.)
That taken care of, I headed to the computer bank to see my official time...31:02! It's not sub-thirty, but considering my lack of substantial mileage in recent weeks, I'm pleased that I ran almost the whole course, and that I had a strong two miles--really, a strong two-and-a-half miles--before fatigue and an unhappy tummy had their way.
I got passed by a lot of faster runners today, but it doesn't bother me. I'm not competing against anyone out there--only myself (though I'm pretty proud that I finished 13th in my age group, out of 53, and in the top 50% overall). And every time I get out there and run a race, I push myself to run faster, and better. Four years ago, a 5K was impossible.