On a whim, I decided to participate in the Horse Butte 10miler this morning. I peeked at the results from last years race and thought I might have a chance to place in the top 10 (amongst the women that is) if I could maintain an 8.20 mile pace. It seemed doable considering the fact that I ran a 23 min 5K (pace of 7.11) on Tue and averaged a 8.18 pace on a 6 mile tempo run the week before.
When I awoke this morning, I thought to myself that 8.20 might be too fast for 10 miles so I decided to go with 8.30. I wrote out my mile splits on a slip of paper and slipped it into my pocket. I gathered my race gear (timex, road id, camelbak, a gel pack, and lip balm) and loaded the kiddos and hubby into the car.
DH complained about the gravel road. He complained about the race fee (I had to pay an extra $10 for day of registration - I had wanted to pre-register 2 weeks ago but he said he didn't know what the plans were so I didn't - wasn't even certain that I'd be able to participate until yesterday). He debated about what he should do with the kiddos during the run (go back home or stay and watch) - I'm getting the feeling I am inconviencing him. He dropped subtle hints that he'd like me back asap (first he said 1:20, then 1:10, then as I approached the start line, his goal time for me was down to 1 hour... I wish!). I am a little frustrated by this. I don't know if he is kidding or is sincere.
My little princess reminds me to be careful where I step. "Don't fall, Mama. Don't hurt yourself." Sweet. While I was getting dressed, she gave me a pink & purple string she had earlier tied to her wrist as a bracelet. "It's to make you go fast, Mama." She asked that I carry it with me. I tied it onto my watch. Sweet. Kids are awesome! :)
Just before the race began, the 'starter' gave a few welcoming remarks on the loud speaker and said something about the course not being well marked. "We know it isn't 26 miles but we are pretty sure it is more than 15. We are sorry about this...." a pause for dramatic effect... then "April Fools. Rest assured the course is well marked and there is even an aide station. However, most of the course is a single-track trail and is rather hilly, particularly at the beginning."
Hmmmm. Things go well the first mile or so. I am drafting behind another woman about my age and I am hoping to stay with her all the way. About 1/3 of the way in, after a couple hills and a few near stumbles, I decide to change my strategy once again. I begin to chant to myself, "Footing is more important than speed. Don't worry about your place or your time. Don't fall! Footing, not Speed!" I have to repeat this to myself numerous times.
About 1/2 way, I develop a stitch in my side. I haven't dealt with those since high school and I can't seem to get this one to go away. Breathing was becoming a bit of a struggle as a result. I hear another runner behind me. I am feeling a sharp pain in my side so I decide to step off the track, pinch my side just under my right ribs (where the pain is the strongest) and I bend over...wait a few minutes... it worked! I return to the trail. However, in just these few moments, about 6-8 runners pass me, most of them women! Urgh!
I want to speed up and catch them but I know this would do me in so I maintain a steady pace. At the aide station, I'm told there are approx. 4 miles to the finish. Good news. There have been no mile markers thus far so I have no idea if I've been running too fast or too slow. My watch says 49.14 - if I've truly covered 6 miles - I'm relatively pleased.
The single track trail is hardest on my ankles. The uneven footing and constant swerving around sage brush, rocks and grass ruts begin to take their toll. Single-track trails are harder than open, flat road. Right? With about 1-2 miles to go, I get passed by 4 other women. I'm frustrated now. I so wanted to do well. Obviously, today was not my day.
About .2 miles from the finish, there is a split in the road. One goes left downhill and the other goes a little farther and then curves to the left around the corner. I elect to follow those in front of me and go past the downhill. As I approach the finish line, another runner (male) comes out from my left and finishes ahead of me. Huh!? Where did he come from??
I throw my hands up in confusion. DH is there taking photos and he says something to me (I didn't catch it then but apparantly he wanted to catch my 'reaction' on camera and wanted me to 'repeat it'... oops). The spectators along the side seem just as confused as me... my concern was that I 'took a short cut' and would thereby be eliminated. But come to find out, I actually ran a short distance LONGER than necessary. Oh well.
As DH hands me my jacket, he says, "Why so slow? You said you'd be back in an hour twenty....[No. What I had said was last years female winner finished under 1:20. I was HOPING to finish in 1:25.] The kids are freezing." On the drive home, my princess asks, "Why didn't you get a prize, Mama? Why did you go slow." [Urgh! Thanks DH! "Honey, this race doesn't give prizes. I didn't run slow. I ran the best I could today. Sometimes we win and sometimes we don't. The important thing is that we enjoy it and have fun."
My unofficial time was 1:30.55. An average of 9.0 min per mile. Bummer. I've returned to reality. I've got a lot of work to do to be able to run 8.30 for 26.2!