Done! My longest run ever, in the bag. Such an incredible experience!
Before heading to Philly on Saturday night I got to go to the New Amsterdam Bike Show in NYC. I’m so loving that I’ve reached a point where I’m comped in, makes me feel like such an insider. Anyway, saw lots and lots of stuff that I want
and got to talk to a lot of people about how to meld the worlds of what I do and what they do. The reception my friend Lee and I received from literally every single vendor we spoke to was extraordinary. Every vendor wanted to partner with our bike education program. Every. Vendor. I received an offer of a DOZEN free bikes. Absolutely unbelievable. I wish I could have stayed longer and shmoozed some more, but I had to meet up with Philly Jen and head out.
We got to Philly, did a little carb loading with burritos and then headed for gelato. I could write an entire blog post about the gelato, suffice it to say, after we sampled ginger, avocado, chocolate with hazelnuts and too many to remember, I opted for a sweet basil and lemon cup. Basil gelato. It was divine.
Off to Jen’s and we started with our pre-race preparations. In keeping with Philly Jen tradition, I did not bring pajamas. I opted to sleep in some measure of my race gear. We spent some time fussing with our tribute gear to our friend Ryan, who died tragically and unexpectedly last week. Since he was from Hawaii, Jen sported a lei, and Maggi, Jen and I all wore “tweeball” images in memory of the twitter-enabled socials Ryan used to love.
Ok, race time.
So this was my first race. I had only done one other running event, the Livestrong 5K in Austin, TX, which was really more a walk/social event. And before this, I had only ever run a little more than 5 miles. I knew I was not going to run the whole 10 miles, but I set my goal to run more than I’d ever run, and to not get taken off the course for being too slow. (As this is a race, they actually expect you to finish in a respectable time. Shocking).
I learned a lot of useful things about this race:
I was honest when registering about my expected finishing time. I believe the category I was put in, purple, stands for People Undertrained Running Poorly Likely (to) Expire. Of all the chutes, I was in the last and slowest category. That was fine with me, confusing by fine, considering I knew people who expected to finish slower than me who were placed in chutes ahead of my position.
I don’t care that I run slowly. Clearly, I was in good company. It was mentally taxing to think the sweep truck was on my heels (even though it wasn’t). It actually reminded me of when you watch the Olympics for swimming, and there’s that World Record yellow line they put on the screen so you can see when the swimmer reaches or fails to reach the milestone.
Also, each chute was released one at a time. There was only a mass start for your color group, and the groups were released (on time, thank you organizers!) about 30 seconds apart from each other.
Until you got to purple. We were held for 2 minutes. Now why come you gonna hold the folks that already done told you they slow as hell? It ain’t like we gonna catch the other groups. Sorry, had to get that out. But it’s true. And I didn’t find the “you’re last but not least” announcement comforting in the slightest.
The official time clock is started as soon as the first foot in the elite group starts, so being all the way in the back, you could not rely on the official clocks en route to denote your actual time running. I had my Garmin running watch on so I kept track myself, ignoring the clocks along the way.
The other thing about starting in the back and two minutes behind is this: It only really gives you a chance to really compete against your chute. I finished in front of only about 500 people when there were 25000 participants. That’s disheartening until you realize there was no way I was “competing” against all 24000 people released in front of me. So, it is what it is.
Anyway, racing was actually great, though I could never get into my right mental mindset. I did well to set my pace and keep my pace, avoiding the mistake of coming out too quickly. Fortunately, my run pace and my very fast walk pace are pretty similar, so my time was consistent throughout the day. But I only ever run alone, so I found it really distracting to have so many people around me. I guess it’s just live and learn- next time I know I’ll be more prepared.
Along the route, I loved the drumming groups, the bands, the choir, a random lady giving out oranges (there’s no official food on the course)…And I thought I was hallucinating when I saw this…
I genuinely appreciated the support of everyone yelling and cheering, all the high-fives. There was a group of 7th grade students running, and I passed one of their teachers who yelled such heart-felt, proud support it nearly brought me to tears. As tired as I was, I always went out of my way to cross the course to give a child a high-five if they were standing there with their hands out.
At one point as I was running, I noticed a heavy-set person in front of me. I had stopped to pee (which added easily 10 minutes to my time). I got it into my head to make a judgement that I would feel badly about myself if someone so heavyset was going to finish in front of me, even though we were miles from the finish line. So, I passed him. And I felt awful. I immediately loathed my thoughts and my intention, that now this person, who was clearly working so hard and accomplishing so much, was now one more person back because I was selfish and prideful. I resolved to not do that again, to not race in front of someone just to try to make myself feel better. To pass someone is to pass someone, but to do it because I thought it was a reflection of my ability, terrible.
However, I was sure as HELL not finishing behind the guy who did it on crutches, so I passed him before the finish line. I don’t actually know if he did the whole thing on crutches, but I don’t care.
I finished the race with plenty still in my tank. I made my all-too-common mistake of not pushing myself hard enough during the event because I wanted so badly to make sure I finished, that I didn’t excel as much as I wanted to. I crossed the finish line, got my medal, and grabbed some water. I was surprised how much I felt like I could still run. My legs were sore, but otherwise, I felt great. Fantastic even.
-Being ballsy enough to go run a 10-mile race. So many people I know would never consider such an undertaking and though I’m slow, I’m still dumb enough to try
-Time with my Philly girls who were so supportive and awesome and incredible
-The horses on the sidewalk
-Running with amazing people around me who were so encouraging to everyone
-The woman running in her do-rag, flip flops and pajama bottoms, who I then realized was chasing her very fast 3-year old son who had gotten onto the course and was having the time of his life. She chased him easily a mile!
– I wish I had kept the tiara on. No one ran with any flair, that’s just not cool.
-A large group of people farted just as we started running. Seriously, it could’ve choked the horse
-People fart all along the course as they run. This became at times painfully apparent
-Being tagged, “Jen Low-maintenace” and Jen Yuan self-tagging, “Jen Lo Mein”
-Lines for the bathrooms. It never occurred to me to factor so much time into my already-slim margins in order to pee. Psychologically it made me not drink as much as I needed because I didn’t want to stop again
-Bothering to wear my headphones for music. I should have left them at home, I didn’t need the music and it stopped me from cooling off in the hydrants
In hindsight, I should have trained more, of course. But, I’m still proud of myself and I’m still looking forward to next year.