RR: Cary Road Race

If you haven’t caught on by now, my little trainwreck running crew does a race together about once a month. Shannon found a super cheap 5k/10k (seriously…it was $10/$13!!) nearby and so Ellie and I promptly signed up. Then Julie said she had a leadership retreat that weekend and Shannon remembered she had to go see her new niece (scheduled C-section earlier that week). So much for the group race!
For the majority of my full training, my speedwork has really suffered. The long runs have taken a lot out of me and I’ve had too many races lately in which the goal shifted to SURVIVE. So the 10k PR at Cooper two weeks ago was a welcomed surprise, even if it was only by 6 seconds. I was considering my race a training run followed by a fun run with Ellie.
It was an extremely hot week in NC (Tuesday we hit 90) and the pollen had been insane – the worst I’ve seen it in the 7 years I’ve lived here. Luckily, a thunderstorm rolled through Thursday night, washed away a lot of the pollen and cooled the air. Saturday morning was crisp and gorgeous. I was happy because I was finally able to try out my arm warmers, which make anyone look like a BA runner in my opinion.  
Modeling my awesome arm warmers!
I left my house an hour before the race started. They didn’t offer early packet pickup so I was scared of lines and the race was in a town called Cary, which is notorious for roads that go in cicles and I can never go there without getting lost (I typically have a good sense of direction but there’s something unnatural about two roads intersecting more than once). I somehow got there without a single U turn, picked up my bib and was back at my car with 40 min to spare. I’m notoriously late so I’m not used to waiting around and I tried my best to look normal as I putzed around half stretching, half warming up, but mostly tying to look like I belonged there. I guess I really do too many races because I amused myself by looking at other people’s race gear – in all I saw 8 people with shirts or hats from races I’ve done in the last 9 months. I was tempted to comment but I’m not really social in the morning.
Ten minutes from the start I realize I never picked up my timing chip and I really had to pee. Really? Of course I felt a wave of panic and wanted both tasks done 5 minutes ago.  I imagined a line the length of Montana to do both. I’m so brilliant. Luckily my panic was for nothing. Chip pickup was a ghost town and there were plenty of restrooms since we were at an amphitheater/concert venue. Phew!
Just in case people thought I was kidding about the pollen…check out the floor of the restrooms!
I lined up midpack and was sad to see there was no start mat. I reminded myself it was a training race but I still cant help being a bit disappointed about no chip time. I guess I’m finally getting the hang of racing with the Garmin because I actually remembered to start it correctly! I went out entirely too fast the first half mile. Every time I looked down I kept seeing a pace that started with 8. I went with it but I had a feeling I’d regret it. I didnt have to wait long. A steep hill about a half mile long knocked my body back to its senses and I started running like my normal self. Mile 1: 9:33
Mile 2 involved the first of 3 cone turnarounds and a trip back down the steep hill. I resisted the urge to fly down it and started to feel a bit more comfortable. Mile 2: 9:41.
I started to wear out around mile 3. It made sense because I was basically running as if it was a 5k. Mile 3: 9:55 and YUP, had it been a 5k I would have PR’d. I saw Ellie screaming for me at the 2nd cone turnaround, which was at the start so I had to do the course all over again. I wasn’t looking forward to doing that hill a second time, but it wasn’t as bad as the first. I was a lot slower, but I guess it could have been worse. Mile 4: 10:09.
I kept reminding myself that the worst was over. I had a down hill and a flat final mile. Pleading with my body was useless. It was in its own rhythm and didnt really care what I wanted. Mile 5: 10:00
With only one  full mile to go I thought I could open up. I passed a few people and was feeling good….until they all passed me again a bit later. I was really starting to run out of steam. I wished I had skipped cycling the night before. Mile 6: 9:43. I saw Ellie, who was screaming even louder this time. It was what I needed to light a fire under me.
Unsucessfully tried to run down some girls at the end…but I PR’d at 1:01:10. I want a sub hour 10k this year and am planning a lot of speed work for the summer. I’ll get it soon, even if I chip away at it a few seconds at a time!!
I had enough time to grab a water, down a powerbar gel, and use the restroom before heading back to the start. I told Ellie I was going to pace her in the 5k and we were gonna kick her old PR’s butt. Ellie countered with a facebook status that said we’d see who would make it to the finish line alive (No, seriously, I think she almost shoved my whistle down my throat at the Apex Turkey Trot)!
The start of the 5k was identical to the 10, I even saw some of the same people so I guess I wasnt the only weirdo doing both races. I ran beside Ellie to get a feel for her pace. She was really flying! We were doing sub 9 mm according to the Garmin and I was wondering who was pacing whom! I commented on our fast pace and Ellie assured me this was her typical race plan and that she’d slow down soon. We slowed as we turned the corner and hit the killer hill and I assured her that it was the hardest part of the race. Being my 3rd time around the course I felt like a pro. I knew when the water stations were coming up and what each hill after the big one looked worse than they felt. By the time we made it around the cones she wasn’t talking anymore so I offered as much encouragement as I could. I shouted times as we pasted the first mile marker and told her she looked good. She retorted with a “I always look good” between breaths. That’s my girl!
I started trying to play games. I told her we had to try to catch the little girl about 300 ft in front of us. I think the little girl knew we were after her because she started sprinting when we got close, only to walk again. We passed her and stayed in front for about 30 seconds before she darted in front again. Ellie managed to scream “BE NICE TO THE OLD LADY,” which probably scared the poor girl to death because we didnt see her again after that.
The final 1.5 of the loop was around this lake
Around 2.5 miles we came to a bridge with an  AWESOME volunteer who was cheering for everyone as they made it up and  over. I got behind Ellie and  blew my whistle yelling “ROCK STAR COMIN THROUGH!” and he gave her a high five! Gotta love volunteers who are good cheerleaders.
The “Rock Star” bridge
Coming up to the last water station, she still looked strong but I could tell she was fading. I started telling her how close we were. She said she wanted to throw up and I told her she could throw up in 4 min. She said she wante dto walk so I told her she had 15 seconds. I actually only gave her 10 but she didnt know at the time (haha). I told her she worked too hard the whole race to fall apart at the 3 mile mark and was blowing my whistle behind her as she crossed the finish, shattering her previous PR by 2 minutes. ROCK STAR!
I’m so proud of my girl and I’m way more excited about her PR than my own. Great race. It’s good to be reminded how great running can be…esp as I get closer to my “scary” race. Crazy to think my next Race Report will be on a full freakin marathon!  

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