I had decided to sign up for this race a couple of months ago when I realized that I didn't have a recent 10k time to submit for the Disneyland race weekend in August. (Then when I read the fine print, they were taking times for 10k's raced AFTER August 1, 2012, oops...oh well.) I have been having issues the past month getting my training runs in. I threw out my hip and was working on getting it adjusted back to health and just trying to juggle running while taking care of an infant and somehow finding time to spend with my hubby. :( So as the race day approached I was becoming more and more leary about my ability to even RUN this race, let alone have a time worth submitting! (Luckily I had a couple of 10k times I could submit for my corral placement for the DL races, so I submitted one of those instead.)
Which brings me to the week of the race. I hadn't run in at least a week and my longest distance had been 3 miles...since September!! My last 10k was in August, to say I was wholly under prepared for this race was an understatement. So I decided, to hell with it, I would run and just have fun and not worry about my time. I haven't run this distance in so long, I couldn't possibly demand this from my unprepared body. So I would run and enjoy the journey.
The theme of the race was Wizard of Oz, which is quite surprising that it has taken this long to have an Oz themed race since, well you know, Seattle is dubbed the Emerald City. The race was a 10k and 15k to be run around Lake Union, starting and ending at Gas Works Park. Upon arrival I saw the set up, quaint but cute.
The finish line greeted you as you entered the park and just beyond that was the vendors for post race refreshments. It was a small but good selection of vendors.
The medals were very nicely done and quite large (think runDisney size!) and there was a nice little place for a photo op! Then it was off to the edge of the park to start the run!
Now I have run this loop TONS of times. I know my personal favorite route and...the race was not going that way. In actuality it was going the opposite direction. The course went west out of the park and counterclockwise around the lake from Gas Works Park, which if you know anything about that loop, we would encounter more inclines in that direction than if we went clockwise around the lake. Well, looks like a bit of a challenge for me!
The race didn't have tons of participants so the course wasn't crowded, you weren't bumping elbows or being squeezed past by faster runners, it was quite nice. There were three aid stations along the 10k course, at miles 1.5, 3 and 5. They had water and Hammer Heed AND Hammer Gels...at each station. I was impressed, not that gels were needed at each of those points, but it was nice to have just in case. Not to mention Hammer is my FAVORITE gel and I RARELY see it being provided on a race course, so double bonus for me!
The race wasn't so bad, I kept to 2:1 run:walk ratio. I haven't quite gotten the stamina to maintain a 4:1 ratio, so I was working with what I had. The beginning of the race wasn't so bad. I was enjoying the scenery and happy that the rain was holding off (whew!) and got half way through the race without much trouble.
Then as the second half of the course came, that's where I really had to fight. This is where the route gets dicey, I mean really, who intentionally has rolling hills as part of the course. This is what the course looked like for almost a mile.
This is where I really had to cut myself some slack. I was starting to get down on myself. I was watching the time tick away and I knew that I should have been farther along on the course...and I just wasn't. I had to pull it together and let it go (don't start singing please). I was running this for fun and to actually run this distance for the first time in months. So as I relaxed about it, I was getting closer and closer to the finish and I was getting excited about it and hoping to finish strong!
About a mile from the finish, an older couple came up from behind and the gentleman asked if I had a timer on my watch (Garmin) because ours seemed to beep at the same time. I told him that I did and we talked briefly about what intervals we were running, me at 2:1 and them 4:1.5. I had remarked, as my timer was telling me to run, that this was my first race back from having a baby and they remarked "you're doing great!" "Congrats!" It was just the encouragement I needed to push me through that last mile.
A couple of minutes later, I heard footsteps behind me coming up fairly quickly, it was the couple I had just met passing me during my walk break. We said hi and kept going. Shortly after that, I passed them during their walk break, again we said hi and I went on my way. Then as I was running I heard some quiet footsteps behind me and I saw the couple again starting to pass me and the gentleman said in broken, sarcastic words "must...not...let...the...new...mom...pass...me!" I laughed out loud. It was funny...and a challenge.
I saw them on their last walk break and I cruised past them and shouted "just .2 left to go!" They must have figured that was a challenge because they came cruising by me and said, "come on! I'm gonna beat you!" As we turned the corner and I saw the finish, I turned the after burners on and flew past the couple. I could hear the gentleman laughing as I ran past. It was the perfect motivation I needed to finish strong.
I crossed the finish line and collected my medal and got some water. The lady came up to me shortly after, patted me softly on the back and said, "great job". I saw her and the gentleman and they were both smiling at me. It was the camaraderie I needed during this race to help me through. I got my coconut water (Thanks Zico!) and watched a bit of the awards, then decided to head home. I had done what I had come to do and now it was time to go home for a shower. All in all, I really enjoyed the race. It was not crowded, wonderfully supported and a great theme. I would definitely recommend this race to anyone and am definitely doing it again!
At the end of the day my finish time was the worst 10k time I've ever posted, 1:28:36, 12 minutes longer than my longest 10k time. It was disappointing, but in the same token, it really wasn't. I was proud of what I had accomplished. It was my first 6 mile run since August, my first race after having a baby and I wasn't dying by the end of the race. As a matter of fact, I had very little stiffness and NO pain! Woot, woot! I would consider this a complete success story in my book. Definitely not a time I would submit for corral placement, but nothing to be embarrassed by. Though I did learn the harsh reality that I am starting from the beginning again, or sorts. My body had the muscle memory for sure, that's how I was able to finish the race standing up, but my endurance is way, way lacking and I need to work on that most of all.
I think this medal says it all though. Courage. I had the courage to go out there and conquer that course. Did it turn out how I had hoped? No. But I finished and I know that I can come back next year and maybe get a bit of redemption on it. Until then, I'm going to look at this medal with pride, because there is no doubt in my mind that I EARNED it!