Thursday, June 6, 2013

Race Recap: Vestcor Bridges 5K (My First Race) - July 28, 2012

*Note*  Since this blog is partly a running diary,  I am going back and doing recaps on the races I ran before I started blogging.

Vestcor Bridges Run 5K - Jacksonville, Florida - July 28, 2012

When I first started running (May 2012) I made a pretty bold statement ; "If I do this, I'm going all out.  I am gonna race!"
I had never even spectated a race before.  I knew absolutely nothing.

I had to Google "how long is a 5K"!

My husband, Brian, had been running for years, but had never considered racing, so, when I started researching our first race, I had no idea what I should be looking for.  I chose the Vestcor Bridges Run because it was an evening race - and at that point, I had never run in the morning.

I thought "bridges" might involve some uphill running, but, never having run uphill before, I really gave it only a cursory thought.  In fact, I think my exact thought process was:
"Oh-bridges!  That will be pretty!"  
See?  No clue!

Brian and I drove down to Jacksonville the day before to pick up our race packets and we ooooh-ed and ahhhh-ed over what I now know to be a pretty pathetic swag bag.  There was some of that rub-on pain relief, a granola bar, coupons and flyers, and a cotton t-shirt.  And a racing bib!  Our first ever!

On Race Day (Saturday) Brian and I were more nervous than a couple of turkeys in November!  We paced around the house, wringing our hands and only stopping to laugh at ourselves!   We were so pitiful it was funny!  I remember thinking it was the longest day of my life!

We left for the 45 min. drive to Jacksonville, Florida around 4pm and arrived a good 2 hours before the start of the race!  We had plenty of time to drive the race course.  That is when we both realized how unprepared we were for the bridges!   I mean, really!  "Bridges" was in the title of the race!  How could I not have considered that they might demand a little extra preparation?

Brian found parking on the street just a couple hundred yards from the start and we went in search of the registration table (to get our chips.)  Brian thought we should go ahead and put on our bibs, but I was afraid that we would look silly walking around with them on so long before our race.  (I was wrong, of course, since the first couple we encountered had on their bibs.)

Before the 5K start in my snazzy waist pack and sweat rag!
We picked up our chips and went back to the car to put the bibs on.  I used the car windows as a mirror and had to take off and re-position my bib 3 times to get it just right!   I remember being a little surprised that runners used something as archaic as safety pins to attach the bibs.  I had expected something more high tech!

After a visit to the Port-O-Johns, we headed out for a little warm up.  And by "warm-up" I mean I jogged up and down the street feeling like the fakest runner ever!  I was just sure that everyone who saw me *knew* that I had no idea what I was doing - that I had "newbie" written all over me.

About 20 minutes before race time, Brian and I stopped and he just held me - in the middle of the sidewalk - and prayed.  He prayed that we would be at peace, that we wouldn't get injured, and that we would do all to the glory of God.  I remember feeling such calm after that.

10 minutes before start time, I followed the advice I had read online and headed to the Port-O-Johns for a last-minute pee break... only to find the line about 200 people deep!  I had no idea what to do!  I really had to go, but there was no way that line was clearing before the race start.  So, I ran back to my car, searched around until I found an old plastic bag, and peed in that!  (Thank the Lord for a mini-van with tinted windows!)  I made it back to the start line with only a couple of minutes to spare!  I squeezed in with the 10-minute milers (since that was my anticipated pace) just as the anthem started.   Then the gun went off and....


We weren't moving.
And then when we started it was just a slow walk.
I was completely confused until we passed the start line and suddenly I was swept along in a wave of people.
I pulled out my phone to check my time.  This was not a 10 minute pace!  I tried to slow down because I knew that I'd crash and burn at an 8:30 pace, but then people started whipping past me like I was barely moving.  I felt embarrassed.  And still confused.  Why was everyone going so fast?  Or was I going too slow?  I had lined up with the 10 minute milers.  Hadn't I?

I made it through the first mile pretty strong, (I think I stopped and walked for just a few seconds one time), but after that I encountered the Main Street Bridge.  Looking back at my Endomondo map, I can tell that I really tried to run it, but I kept having to stop to walk.  It was far tougher than I anticipated.  I did get a downhill reprieve for a bit, but at the start of mile 2 was the Acosta Bridge.

This is the point when I finally started noticing the other runners, and I realized that there were many fit-looking men and women who were struggling right along with me!  There was one 30-ish looking male that I particularly remember.  Perhaps because he was muscular and young - and running right in front of me.  I decided right then and there - half-way up the Acosta Bridge - that I was gonna beat that guy.  I struggled and pushed, and once I crested the hill, I ignored all the "take it easy on the downhill" advice and flew wide open.  Endomondo recorded an 8 minute pace.  I left muscle-guy in the dust and just kept on going.

The final mile was all in my head.  Honestly, I can't even remember what my body felt like, I just remember the internal conversation I was having.

 "I can't do this.  It isn't worth it.  Don't be a wimp, Mendy!  It will be over in a few minutes. But I'm gonna pass out!  I hate this!  I tell you what, if you finish this you will never have to race again.  I promise!"

Still, I kept getting slower and slower.  I really was running out of training!  Suddenly I heard a "Whoop!" and looked up.  It was my husband!  He had come back to run the last tenth with me!  We ran it in - side by side - me grimacing and Brian cheering me on!

My final time: 31:27  (not bad for a girl who had just started running 2 months before!)

Afterwards I remember being unable to talk and slightly in a daze.  I visited the potty - then walked around a little aimlessly until my husband spotted me and brought me a bottle of water.  It seemed like it took me forever to come out of my stupor.
Then, as we sat and ate post-race cardboard flavored pizza, I started planning how I would run the next race!

One thing I did know - it would not involve a bridge!

Time: 31:27
Average pace: 10:09
A/G Place: 9th of 26
Would I run it again?  Probably not.  Too hilly, hot and humid!