Sunday, October 24, 2010

Uptown Run 8k

2 mile w/u
Target: 8k race @don't drop out, don't embarrass the brands
Actual: 29:57 (5:58, 5:54, 6:07, 5:54, 6:03)
2nd place female, 4th place overall
2 mile c/d
Total: ~9 miles

I must admit, I had literally no idea what to expect going into this race. This is only my fourth week back running, and since I hurt my foot at Greek Fest two months ago I've done exactly zero workouts. Wait, I take that back--I did two strides after my run at White Rock Lake yesterday. Does that count? As you can imagine, this type of race preparation doesn't exactly inspire self-confidence. But, given that I was already going to be at the Uptown Run working the Craft and Karhu tent, I figured I might as well take advantage of the free entry and try to earn some exposure for the two brands.

Contrary to the weather that my Charlottean friends have been enjoying this week, the weather in Dallas is warm, muggy and windy. When I left my parents' hotel room at 5:30 this morning it was 72 degrees and 88% humidity. I knew it wouldn't exactly be ideal racing weather, but to be honest that was the least of my worries. At the top of the list? Not going out too fast, not dying and not embarrassing myself, in that order. I honestly had no idea how my body would respond to a pace it hadn't so much as hinted at in several months, but I didn't exactly have anything to lose by lacing up the boots. Might as well give it a shot.

I warmed up just after 7am with Brett, a new friend of mine who works at Lukes; Andrew, an old friend of mine I haven't seen in a few years; and Dawn, a speedy local runner who I knew would be the woman to beat. (Turns out she was almost the man to beat too, but I'll get to that in a minute.) I spotted my pops (representing with his Karhus) and our family friends who'd also come up for the race, but there wasn't much time to chat. After warming up and waiting in line for 10 minutes for the bathroom there wasn't even time for a few strides before lining up at the starting line. Ready or not, it was time to test out these rusty legs of mine.

The gun sounded promptly at 8:00 and we were off in the Uptown direction. Within the first 800 meters it became apparent that, simply put, there were no fast dudes in the race. My friend Andrew was just tempoing the thing and he was already far ahead of the next male, with Dawn and myself close behind. Allow me to say again just so we're clear: Dawn (a girl) and me (another girl) were in third and fourth place overall. This would not change for the remainder of the race. Now guys, I get it that there was no prize money to be had and that the Uptown Run no longer carries the prestige it once did (hence why it will become a 13.1 race next year). But seriously? We girls weren't exactly running world beating times here, so it was a bit of a surprise (at least to me) to find ourselves front and center from the gun.

Approaching the first mile marker, I still had no idea of my pace, but I was relieved to find myself feeling somewhat comfortable. Seeing 5:58 on the clock gave me a slight confidence boost and armed me with the conviction that I could finish in a respectable time. At this point Dawn was only a few meters ahead and I harbored some hopes of her coming back, but midway through the second mile she started to pull away. Unsure as to how my body would respond as the race progressed, I was hesitant to follow. I kept reminding myself to stay relaxed and focused and to take the race one mile at a time. Sure enough, the second marker loomed before I was expecting it, and I was pleased to see a slightly faster split accompanying the downhill mile. The third mile was a series of turns and a gradual incline, and at that point I felt my legs and breathing begin to labor. Dawn had pulled even farther ahead and I was right in the middle of no man's land, flanked by the Uptown buildings and accompanied by a brisk headwind. Things had the potential to go downhill fast if I didn't keep myself together. Fortunately the fourth mile was solely flat to downhill, which meant I was afforded the opportunity to accelerate slightly while collecting myself mentally. Just past the fourth mile marker was a 180-degree turn and the promise of retracing the hill we'd just coasted down, which made for a physically and mentally draining final mile. With 600 meters to go I made the final turn--no thanks to the cop who allowed me to run five meters off course before halfheartedly calling after me to turn around--and could see the finish line straight ahead, and a quick glance at my watch confirmed that I could dip under 30 minutes if I hustled in. I made it with just a few seconds to spare, hot and exhausted but also pleasantly surprised at my performance.

Without question, the positive takeaway from this effort is that all has not been lost over the past few months. I've obviously forfeited a bit of fitness but not nearly as much as I'd feared. Houston Marathon is a full 13 weeks away, which should be plenty of time to whip myself into respectable shape. I view today's race as a great starting point on the path toward much bigger and better things.

1 comments:

allensroadtoboston said...

Hey,

Small world - Laura and I ran that race last year! Yeah, I too was surprised at the lack of stellar performances. But it may have been the most fun we had at a race last year - good bands and lots of free Mich Ultra. I still have my cowbells (did Borden sponsor it again this year?)

Glad to see you enjoying White Rock Lake - I had a good time running there too. We'll be there for the marathon in December.

Awesome that you're back in the game!