I wasn't supposed to race today. As I mentioned in my last post, I was SUPPOSED to be in Georgia this weekend spending time with some of my favorite triathletes from the 2012 Tucson Tri Camp but guess who came down with the stomach flu on Thursday. Twenty-two years of successfully avoiding it and BAM, the streak was over on Thursday and so was my trip before it even started. I will say, the bright side of this is that it might've alleviated my phobia of stomach illness (ask my parents, my brother, my husband, my friends - I become a neurotic germaphobe when it comes to all things stomach sickies). I survived, it wasn't the most horrible thing in the world, and now maybe I won't be so afraid to toss my cookies during a race if it means it will make me feel better and go faster.
I signed up for this trail run race a few months ago when I originally had nothing planned for the weekend. Then the Georgia trip came up, I planned on transferring my bib but with the storm and stuff last week, I forgot about it. I stayed in bed from Thursday afternoon until about noon on Saturday and finally left the house (FINALLY) Saturday afternoon to go for a short jog down the bike path with Mr. Sweetie and our dog. By last night I felt back to normal and food was appealing and then I thought about maybe going to race today. I had friends who would be there and I NEEDED to get out of the house, between last week's storm and being sick, cabin fever was setting in. I woke up this AM, felt fine, and opted to go for it.
It was actually a pretty uneventful race. I didn't wear a watch and figured I would run on feel. I had very low expectations - I hadn't eaten properly since mid-week and run training had been nonexistent because this is the off-season. I figured I would start off at what felt like a sustainable pace and slow down if I was feeling worn out or residual effects from being sick. The Wakefield Backyard Burn is the flattest race in the series. It still has a few hills, for sure, but plenty of more level portions to catch your breath on. I (smartly) chose the 5 mile option (this is the offseason where anything and everything is supposed to be FUN), but both the 5 and 10 milers start together so you don't always know if that girl in front of you is in your race or doing the other distance.
The run started and I felt like I was super behind right from the beginning. I have no idea what my pace was (no Garmin), but I immediately started to feel my lack of training. Oh well. On the first downhill, I focused on NOT tripping and falling - there were alot of leaves piled up and you couldn't always tell how deep some of the dips and divots were in the path because they were covered in leaves. We hit a flat section for awhile and I felt like I found a decent pace at that point and held onto it for a mile or so. When we got back into the main section in the woods, I fell into a paceline with a group - the trail was too narrow and twisty to make a pass and the pace was a little slower than I had been running, but I was grateful for the excuse to slow it down a little and catch my breath (guess who is TERRIBLE at negative splitting a race and pacing in general - something to work on for 2013). Once the trail widened out a bit, some passes were made and the pace picked up and I was dropped like a bad habit by some of the faster guys. When we got to the 2.5 mile mark, I was starting to wish the race was over and question my decision to run today when I most definitely wasn't in top form to be racing. I tried to put the negative talk out of my head and just focus on the task at hand. Once we hit the hills around mile 3.5/4ish, Dawn caught and passed me with authority. I need to learn to run like her - she ran a super smart race - a conservative start and just picked people off one by one as she gained speed with each mile. She ended up crossing the line as 3rd overall woman (great job Dawn!!). I tried to keep Dawn in sight for the rest of the race and was mostly successful until about the last half mile. The finish line was in a different spot this year compared to when I did this race two years ago so I was sorely disappointed when I got to the area where I remembered the finisher's chute being and realized it was another 100m or so away. Sigh. My finish time was 42:30 or something like that. I was 4th overall and 1st in my age group, winning another pint glass to add to our everyday glassware collection (I should've started doing these races earlier in our marriage, these glasses would've come in handy after we got married and realized we registered for and received 40+ alcohol-related glasses but never bothered to register for regular glasses).
Best part of the day, hands down, was seeing all of my friends before, during and after the race. If I couldn't spend the weekend with some of my favorite JHC girls in Georgia, I'm glad I got to see some of my favorite people up here in DC.