Last Sunday I ran my first race since giving birth to Penelope. I had visited my doctor on Wednesday for my 6-week post partum follow up and she gave me the official OK to resume all exercise, even though I’d been doing short one or two mile runs since 2 weeks post partum. I ran 3 miles the day of my appointment (Wednesday) and a 3 mile trail run on Friday. I looked at the Upcoming Race section on the Run Oregon blog and found one for the weekend. I thought it would be a fun way to celebrate my official return to running, to celebrate my birthday (Monday the 10th), and just to see where my speed was at.
To say I hadn’t trained would be a significant understatement. I had run 10 times in the last 4 weeks, generally two miles at a time. Before that, I had two weeks off after giving birth. And before that, I was pregnant. I did run throughout my pregnancy, but slow! And pregnanty. I had no idea what my post baby body could do. I had done one fast run a couple weeks ago (2 8:00 ish miles) so I figured I could probably do that. My A goal was to finish under 25:00 (8:04 pace or better), and my B goal was to finish under 26:00 (8:23 pace or better). My secret dream goal was to finish under 24:00 (7:45 or faster). My PR in this distance is 22:07 a thousand years ago.
So there’s a funny story that I have to tell first. After looking at that Run Oregon calendar, I had decided on this race out in Hillsboro. It was a boring run through a park and around the Hillsboro Stadium, but it was not too far from home and super flat. There was another I was considering but it was like an hour away. So we got up really early Sunday morning, I fed Penny and pumped, etc… and we drove out to Hillsboro. We got to the stadium shortly after 7:00 and…. empty. There was no one there. Zach thought maybe we were just really early? (race started at 8:00) but as I looked on my phone for the race info I discovered what I had feared. The race was the previous day. Comeback Race FAIL! I felt so stupid, but it was so funny I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. I blame it on the baby! She was probably distracting me as I looked at the race website. ;)
I wasn’t going to let this little hiccup stop me though! I was all dressed out and psyched up for racing, I had to find something! We hopped back on the Run Oregon website and browsed it like we were looking for a restaurant for dinner. “What about this one in Corvallis? Hmm, kind of far away..” Etc. The good news is that my second choice race, the one that was an hour away, WAS on Sunday and didn’t start till 10:00! So we turned around and headed south of Portland to Willamette Mission State Park for the Dash and Bash 5k.
This was quite the change of plans, of course, and I’m very proud of myself for rolling with it. Usually this kind of thing would totally freak me out. But, we grabbed some coffee and I ate a clif bar (since the race was now 2 hours later than planned!). I fed Penny in the car once we arrived down there and used my hand pump as well. Maybe motherhood is making me more spontaneous and flexible!
Once Penelope was fed and happy I brought my $30 up to the registration desk and got a number. There were very few people around and of course I was eyeing the competition. It was a charity event (aren’t they all), and it was small. I figured it would be small, but this was like, really small. As I scoped out the other participants I noticed a large number of them were in jeans. Also, a lot of kids under 10 years old. In fact, I was one of only a handful of people in running clothes. And I was kind of the only one that looked like I knew what I was doing. In fact, I felt like a bit of an asshole with my Ironman hat and Garmin. I actually decided not to eat a Gu just before the race because it seemed so ridiculous (even though I was hungry!). One girl showed up in tights and a tech shirt and I figured she would be fast, and I was right.
All right, tights girl. It’s on.
We lined up and at exactly 10:00 we were off! I lined up about 5 people from the front (and about 25 people from the back. There were literally 30 people there). 4 of the 5 people in front of me were children. In the first 10th of a mile I passed everyone except one young boy (hey, don’t count out the 10 year old boy demographic! They can be legit!) and tights girl. I decided not to look at my watch at all (inspired by Ewen’s “running by feel” approach) and just try to keep pace with her. I hoped she wasn’t as fast as she looked and I could catch up with her at some point, but alas, it was not to be. I overtook the young boy in the first mile and a grown man passed me and tights girl.
The course was really lovely, winding through the park along a paved bike path. It was flat and scenic. I was working hard but really enjoying the run. I kept tights girl in my sights as the grown man left us both behind. But, even before mile one, tights girl pulled out of my sights. When I did catch a glimpse of her at a straightaway section she was far ahead of me, at least a minute or so. Grown man was no where to be seen. It was exciting to be running in 3rd place though! I continued to ignore my watch and run by feel. In the second mile I felt a side stitch coming on so I tried to just ride that line of pushing hard without cramping up too much. I could tell I was working hard but had no idea what kind of pace I was running. I was all alone out there so I had nothing to gauge my pace against. I saw Zach at a couple points and he got some good pictures. Penelope was sleeping in the stroller but I like to think she was quietly cheering for Mommy!
I had my headphones on and was jamming out to my power race mix. It was fun! Finally I got to a point where the 5k and 10k split and I followed the 5k chalk to the finish line. I glanced down at my watch knowing I had a tiny stretch left and didn’t want to miss whatever finish time by a second or two, whether it be 22:00 or 27:00. I saw Zach and Penny at the finish line and I heard my name over Pitbull in my headphones.
Splits, which I saw later:
Mile 1 7:34
Mile 2 7:56
Mile 3 7:52
last 0.12 0:53 (7:11 pace)
Official Time 24:15 (7:49 average pace)
Ya. So Tights Girl and Grown Man? They were running the 10k!!! It never occurred to me that might be the case!
I frigging WON! :D I didn’t even realize it until Zach told me a minute after finishing. I guess the guy had announced it but Pitbull drowned him out.
Hahahaha!! Weeeeeeeeeee! I couldn’t believe it. I have never won a race, and probably will never again, so I really enjoyed this experience. They called me over to the awards table and gave me an awesome medal and $50! That’s right, this 30 person race had a prize purse! (and chip timing, did I mention that? I don’t know how they made any money for the charity.)
I pranced around for a bit with my 1st Place medal and cheered in the next few runners (the 10 year old boy finished 2nd a couple minutes behind me. The next female was about 6 minutes back.) I drank a bottle of water and then we made our way to the car. I fed the baby in the car (and told her my sweaty skin was “the taste of victory”) and we drove home.
What a day. Started off with a hilarious mistake, finished with a ridiculous victory. Awesome. So much fun.
Besides being very happy with my WIN, I am actually really super happy with my pace! I crushed my A goal! I can’t wait to see what I can do in a couple months when I really start to get my fitness and speed back.
Thanks for reading!