Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sparkle extravaganza (I mean River Ramble) race recap

We sparkled and shimmered all along the river today in the River Ramble Fall Classic 10k, coming in 2nd out of three teams. We had a great time dressing up in our skirts and applying glitter gel to our faces and glitter spray to our hair. We definitely had the most character and personality on the course!
Team Blood, Sweat, and Sparkle

Two of my team members also set personal records in the 10k and won age category prizes!

Here is how the race went for me:

Even though we were running our own paces, we decided to line up together as a team near the front of the pack, since there were hundreds of runners and no chip timing. Starting in the front may or may not have been to my advantage. I can't tell if I burned myself out by going out too fast or if I would have set myself a slower pace if I hadn't had the momentum from everyone else.

In any case, when we started, we ran 0.2 miles through the parking lot to the hill that takes us out to the road. I kept a light but brisk pace through the parking lot and just tried to take it easy but keep the pace going up the hill. Then I tried to remind myself to use the slight decline to my advantage and let gravity do its thing.

I tried to keep at a steady, quick pace, and I got to the 1 mile mark at 8:08 minutes. I thought that I usually go out a little faster, but I knew that if I held that, I was still on pace for my goal time. I was feeling tired though, and the balls of my feet down to my toes were totally numb. It's hard to describe running without feeling your toes, and I can just say that it is very uncomfortable, especially when you know you're continually pounding on those spots. Around this time I also started getting the dreaded cramps, and I don't mean the lactic-acid kind.  Still, I kept on my pace, and it seemed like no time before we got to the 5k turnaround. Alas, what an easy race the 5k must have been! Even with my frozen toes, I think I could have turned out a time around 25:30 on that course.

But I was running the 10k, so I kept going straight beyond the turnaround, and it wasn't long before the hills started. These were not nearly as unforgiving as the hills that I usually run on, so I should have flown up them, but I did not perform as well as I expected I would. When I found myself plodding, I picked up my knees and lightened my step, but I was much more tired than I should have been. I continued to fade as I got closer to the turnaround point, and more and more people passed me. I can't say that's not disheartening, but I flashed my sparkle skirt (well, it did its own flashing) and kept going, trying to pass people on the downhills.

I played leap frog with a couple of people until they either drew ahead or fell behind, and I found myself in a no-man's land with no other runners around me for the last 2 or 2.5 miles. At this time, I tried to do the math to see if my top goal was anywhere near attainable and settled on trying to finish in under 55 minutes. My time at the turnaround was about a minute and a half slower than it should have been if I wanted to match my PR.

After passing the 5k turnaround, I tried to use the flats there to my advantage and speed up a little. I got excited when I could see the parking lot. There was one slight incline left, and I jogged up it, hoping that maybe I'd get a burst of speed and somehow be able to pass the guy up ahead of me. I dropped my hand-held bottle of Gatorade next to a road sign where I'd be able to pick it up later  and immediately felt lighter and freer. I crested the hill and started to coast down towards the parking lot. I heard someone coming up behind me, and that spurred me on just enough. I opened up my stride and made for the finish line.

The last stretch is deceivingly long. I was told to smile for cameras, so I held back a bit instead of going for the usual power sprint (and accompanying photos of flailing limbs and ridiculous grimaces). I heard someone say that my skirt was flying, and one of the race volunteers said that even though I was the last of my team to finish, I was still fast, and they were all waiting to cheer me on. And they were!
That skirt is flying!
I finished in 55:26, which is a little disappointing, considering I had been improving so much and know that I was capable of at least 53:52 on that course, but it's something to beat in the future. I have to remember that my first goal in this race was to have a great time running in our sparkly skirts. I wanted us to bring a lot of fun to this race and have a blast, and we did! We all left with such a great feeling and are already planning on continuing our weekly groups runs. There's even talk of signing up together for a half marathon in the spring! And I think that our enthusiasm extended out to a lot of other people today. One or two people actually thanked me for dressing up!

After cheering on many other 10k runners, we got some refreshments and stuck around for the awards ceremony, where two of our girls won 2nd and 3rd place in the 30-39 year age group! Way to go!!! What is even more impressive (and a little frustrating) is that the friend who placed 2nd was only a second or two behind 1st place in that age group. Believe me, when we do this next year, she's going for 1st!

After individual awards were given, every member of Team Blood Sweat and Sparkle was awarded a River Ramble mug for 2nd place in the team competition! Go team!!
Celebrating with 2nd-place mugs

This was a great race that was very well organized, even though it was in its first year. The weather was beautiful, and everyone I saw had a great time. The location was also awesome. After everyone else left, I took my unfinished breakfast (more on proper - and un-proper - nutrition in a later post?) down to the boat launch and sat down and finished it while looking across the river. It's a beautiful spot, which is why I'm getting married just a few miles downstream from there next September...! You can't beat the view of the river and mountains behind them.

Anyway, the course was great, everything ran smoothly, and I'm so glad that we were able to put such a quirky team together. It added an element to the race that I don't always see.

I am really looking forward to finishing up my grad school program and having more time to exercise again so I can work on improving my fitness and becoming a fast runner. Watch out, River Ramble - I'm coming back next year, just as sparkly, but faster than ever!


Running Librarian said...

Congrats on a great race! Looks like you all had tons of fun!

Librarian on the Run said...

Thanks! It was a blast!!