I’m still on a runner’s high from yesterday’s race, the Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10. The overall experience was wonderful.
In order for things to go smoothly the morning of the race I had my two daughters sleep over at their grandparent’s house the night before. Since my husband needs to get out of the house for work on Saturday mornings and has limited time to manage the girls, this was an easy solution. I set my alarm for 6:00 am, but I was awake a few minutes before it went off. I got ready and dressed for the race, drank a little water and ate a small piece of chocolate chip zucchini bread. I grabbed my fuel belt, frozen water bottles as well as my music and headphones.
When I arrived at the race site there was plenty of parking that was fairly close to the activity. I made sure to wait in line to use the porta-potties since I failed to do this before my last 10-mile race and had the urge to pee the entire time I was running. Luckily this course had a few spots with porta-potties, but I planned well and never had to use them.
The starting line was in a grassy field that backed up to a forest preserve. There was no definite marking of the start line. I was told that our shoe timers would be activated at the starting time. The race had a 3-wave start. The race was estimated to have approximately 1000 participants. I’m guessing the reason for the 3-wave start was because fairly close to the beginning of the race the path narrowed down for a short distance. I was in the second wave and we still had about a 30-60 second delay because of the traffic jam of bodies at the narrow part of the path.
Once the path widened I was able to really start running. I have run these trails many times before so I was familiar with where I was and where I was potentially going. At a certain point the route that I was use to running showed a detour sign which led us down a thick gravel road. I opted to run on the edge of this path where there was about a foot and half of grass. It wasn’t too long and we were back on the crushed limestone trail.
I was able to run the numerous hills with no problem. At about mile 3 I ran up the largest hill of the course, Big Bertha, while chatting with this 55 year old women who was using the race as a training run for her first half marathon, which happens to be the same race I will be running as my first half marathon too. She was an inspiration. She was just what I needed to help me get up that 1.5mile long hill.
I chose to bring my fuel belt with my own water since the weather has been horribly hot and humid in the Midwest. I had been use to running in over 90-degree weather and drinking all of my water on my training runs. I was worried that the water stations would not be enough for me so I brought my own. The weather ended up being only 68 degrees at the start of the race and probably didn’t get too much hotter than 80 degrees by the time I finished the race. It also turned out to be perfect for me to have my own water because I never had to slow down at the water stations and I was able to keep running as I hydrated. I NEVER walked not even one step during the entire race. I definitely think having my own water was a major factor in that.
At mile 6 I started chatting with another runner, a girl who was a tri-athlete and wasn’t use to running long distances. She had thought she signed up for a 10K not a 10 mile. She was also lamenting about the amount of hills on the trail. She asked if there was ever going to be a spot without any hills. Sorry honey, but the answer is, no. She encouraged me to run ahead because she was sure that she would hold me back.
I felt marvelous throughout the entire race. I never felt like I was working too hard or like I needed to stop and walk. I also never felt like I wasn’t working hard enough. I felt perfect the whole time. I was enjoying everything from the people to the scenery as well as the time I was spending inside my head.
From mile eight to nine I was able to pick up my speed and pass a couple handfuls of people who had passed me earlier in the race. Once I hit the last mile I never looked back and gave it my all. I pushed myself as hard I could for that last mile. And every time I passed someone I kept thinking, I hope they’re in my age group!
A few yards from the finish line I saw the clock and I started to cry. I had definitely improved my previous time. I was able to verify my exact time at a computer that was on site. You typed in your bib number and it spit out your overall time and pace. It read 3 minutes faster than the time on the finish line clock! Remember? I started in the second wave, which was 3 minutes later than the first. Woo Hoo! My final time was 1:36:26, eight minutes better than my last 10-mile race.
This course was difficult in so many ways compared to my last 10-mile race. I am hoping that this bodes well for my 13.1 at the Chicago Half Marathon on the flat lakefront in September. If my calculations are correct I have to shave off six to seven minutes in order to run the half marathon in under 2 hours. FYI, That’s my new dream/goal.
Will this feeling of accomplishment ever get old? I really, really, really hope not. It’s what pushes me to keep training and signing up for the next race.