The weather forecast said clear and sunny, so why did rain pound the windshield as we drove downtown for Run for the Water?
Fortunately, it stopped raining before we got out of the car to head to the starting area. But we had other problems. The minor congestion I felt yesterday had turned into a full-blown cold overnight, and my breathing wasn’t great. My compadres had a bucket full of aches and pains and illnesses too. I knew I would not get my :30 back on this race–the course is much hillier, and adding fun and exciting respiratory issues kicked my expectations back even further.
The port-a-potty line was long, but it moved quickly. AND they had a hand-washing station with real water, not hand sanitizer. Fancy. As I washed my hands, the woman next to me quipped that she wants to start a blog of pictures of people’s faces as they exit port-a-potties, kind of like the People of Walmart for runners.
We headed to the starting area, but stayed toward the back. We found a couple of friends and made tentative plans to run together, at least for a while. And all too quickly, we were off.
The first mile was pretty flat, and it went okay. The rain had left behind some thick humidity, which didn’t help my already labored breathing. I was stuck behind a run-walk group who ran-walked five people wide. Once, one of the women cut in front of me, then immediately stopped when the leader’s watch beeped. I nearly ran into her; I blurted out “Dammit!” and got a sarcastic “Excuuuuuse us!” in return. Look, go crazy with your run-walk strategy–I’m all for doing whatever works. But don’t take up the whole lane with five of you side-by-side, and don’t stop in front of people who are running.
Somewhere around mile two, we encountered the first hill, kind of a starter hill really. Nothing like what would follow. I decided to help my breathing, I’d walk up and run the downhills and the flats. By the third water stop and the turn up into West Enfield, I was actually looking forward to some hills because then I could take a walk break. I knew I was in for a struggle.
Over the next four miles I saw some friendly faces, a couple of funny signs, and about ten lots in which older million-dollar houses had been demolished to build … new million-dollar houses. I laughed when my iPod played “Animals” as I came through the water stop sponsored by one of the animal rescue organizations.
Finally, mercifully, I turned onto Enfield, then Exposition. Not that I was done with hills–Exposition has one I forget about sometimes–but from there it was mostly flat. Unfortunately, the sun had come out and the return route ran directly into it. Since I’d left my sunglasses in the car, this kind of sucked. I squinted on.
Without my (prescription) sunglasses, I also couldn’t recognize people until they were right in front of me. Thus I didn’t see my coach (who finished fifth overall and was running back the other way) until she yelled my name.
I still struggled with my breathing–I’d used my inhaler a couple of times, but it hadn’t helped much. I had to walk a couple of times, even within that last half-mile. But as I made the turn onto the bridge and the homestretch, several friends yelled my name and cheered wildly. It gave me a huge extra boost to the finish line.
The Burundian drummers drummed, I got my high five from Gilbert, and–oh happy day!–a medal!
I finished within a minute or two of the previous two times I’ve run this race. Considering my limitations today, I was happy with my time. I walked back to the corner and watched for the others.
About fifteen minutes later, S appeared, hobbling and clearly suffering. I walked alongside her down toward the finish line, then veered off and grabbed some water for her. It was only a couple of minutes before Andria finished, and we cheered for her as she crossed the timing mats. They collected their Distance Challenge magnets, I found a free sample of iced coffee, and we headed to the car.
It wasn’t pretty for any of us, but we did it.
Actually, a couple of things went right for me. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been fueling with Fig Newtons (or HEB’s brand of Fig Bars), pretzels, and raisins, plus Sport Beans. That combination worked well for me again today–no problems at all with nausea after the race. And I’d ordered a set of Race Dots magnetic bib holders after K had some at the Army Ten-Miler. It wasn’t easy to attach them initially, but for the most part they worked great. Toward the end of the race (right in front of some photographers, naturally) the top one stuck to the bottom one and when I went to separate them, the top one slid off the bib and I had to reattach it. I can’t wait to see those pictures, ha.
Next up: kick this cold. Well not literally. I won’t be kicking anything from the couch the rest of the day.