Saturday June 23rd…5:45am…beep, beep the alarm goes off but I was already up at 5:00am. It’s always hard to sleep on race day, nervous anticipation I guess. Getting up early to do something you have a passion for is so different than getting up because you have to. But what a great way to start the day, by watching the sun rise and warm the crystal blue sky.
It’s kind of funny how I have developed a routine before every race. I’ve been doing the same thing every race morning since that very first one. Quick shower, get dressed (and, yes, I have been wearing that same pair of Nike shorts every time), orange juice, granola bar, coffee and, finally, G1 20 minutes prior to race time. This routine has now become a superstition and to change it would just seem out of place, isn’t that totally weird? I sure hope these shorts hold up…LOL
After some warm up time, here I am again in the familiar place that is the race queue. I stared wondering what this race will be like. I’ve never ran it before so I didn’t know much about the course. All the website said was that it’s 3/4 of mile around Northville Downs, then right into the famous Kona Hill (which kind of intimidated me…I love to hate hills) around some neighborhoods, through downtown and into Ford Field for the finish…hum? The band was rocking at the starting line, the runners were all full of energy and I could feel the nervous excitement all around me. “Runners take your mark, go”, and off we went…like Secretariat blasting out of the gate in the Kentucky Derby.
I lined up in the front of the queue, but just behind the runners that were in it for the win, to try and avoid any crowds. The horse track was really wide so no congestion problems getting through the first turns. After the second straightaway, I quickly settled into my race pace and told myself to stick to it and don’t get caught up in the over-excitement of the other runners.
During the first 1/4 to 1/2 Mile, I like to pick some marks that I think I can beat or even just keep up with. I like to chase, it makes me push myself at times if I fall off my pace. As a few people passed me, I found two targets that as the race went on, I’d hope to catch and “yeah…junior your one of them as you gave that look sprinting by me”.
Kona Hill was pretty tough, but I was fresh and full of excitement. The grade was pretty steep and the length was challenging but it wasn’t so bad. It’s only when I got to the top of it and made the turn on to the neighborhood portion of the course that I realized that the hill practically didn’t end…for the next 5 miles…ugh! Even with all the hills, it must have been all that training for the half marathon prior, I was running a great race. My lap times were awesome according to what my Endomondo coach was telling me. I then started wondering if could beat my own personal best, which I had ran earlier this year. As I was pondering this during the last 4 miles and trying to remember even what that exact time was, I eventually turned the corner around the mile 5 mark and there was junior, and my burners kicked in. I can’t explain the feeling as I ran past him hard, just knowing that the end is near.
Mile 5.5 and still going strong, target two is now in sight. Ok, she was around 55 years old, and damn this woman could run, but sorry lady I need to beat you. It’s nothing personal and in fact I even envy you because you kicked my butt for 5.75 miles and I hope to be as fast as you when I’m in my 50’s. The finish line was now in sight and from here on in, it was now a full out run…I kept saying to myself…”push it, push it, push it” which probably sounded weird to the spectators that were lining the final stretch and as I came through the finish line, I heard them announce my name. What a really cool thing it was to hear my name announced to the crowd. That was a first for me.
Official finish time 50:36 – 18th place in my age division out of 82 and a new PR! What a great race, Northville and Kona Running Company you did a great job, and the course was the most challenging 10k I’ve run so far. Next year maybe the 10 mile event, I fear no hill now! Now back to the pool and bricks for Tri Training…Peace!