For the past 5 -6 years I’ve run the Elizabeth 8k as it’s right in my neighborhood. I love this race, but I realize year after year, that the course is pretty challenging. There are a lot of long gradual uphills, but it’s nice to have the long gradual downhills to compliment. There is one pretty big climb also, which never fails to kick my tail.
My friend Devon and I met at my house and did a nice easy 2 mile jog to the race site. I was feeling really thirsty and dehydrated so I was curious how this race might go. We were through packet pickup and ready to run in no time. As I was lining up at the start, I noticed none of the “well-known” super-fast female runners were around and wondered how I might fare given the less competitive field.
The gun went off and I fell right into 2nd place behind a girl I believe whose name was Blair. I was feeling pretty good through mile 1 and 2, ticking off at 6:50 and 6:53….my threshold pace. Between mile 1-2 a girl came flying by me at a pace I wouldn’t dare to match, and I just let her go. She was likely hitting low 6’s, and I’m just not there yet. I knew she would go on to win.
Blair was was in my sites the whole time, though pulling away a tiny bit with each mile. The biggest hill was right around mile 3 but I ran strong and saw 7:11 tick off. A bit above my goal pace, but I was ok with that. Given the lead female had tagged along with the male pace group up front, the bike pacer (who will remain nameless), was pacing alongside Blair who was about 45 sec ahead of me at this point. Nearing mile 4, we headed out for what should be the final downhill, to loop around for the final gradual uphill to the finish. I was very ready to be done at this point. However, the bike pacer took a right and headed back to the big hill again, when we were supposed to be going left to loop to the finish. I knew we were not going the right way, but I was red-lining effort wise, and you don’t always make good decisions when you’re body is in physical distress. So I followed them. Why, I don’t know. There were about 6-7 of us that followed suit, including Blair.
We were over a mile from the finish when I looked at my watch at 4.97 miles…the distance of an 8k. Looking back on my splits, I ran a 35:05. There’s no telling if another girl would have passed me before the finish, but I was in 3rd the whole race prior. Nonetheless, I saw my sister as I came up the big hill the 2nd time (which was only supposed to have been run once) and she was seriously confused. At that point, I was over 5.5 miles into a 4.97 mile race….she should have been confused!
I made my way to the finish ticking off my last mile, despite being totally wiped out, at a 7:18. The most difficult part for me was the mental challenge. I’ve made it very clear that running “fast” is not easy for me. My AVERAGE heart rate for this run was 175! That’s not a comfortable place to be for very long. Despite the physical pain, the mental challenge of preparing to run 4.97 miles “all-out”, and then having to run 6 was tough! I knew the neighborhood too, and I knew how far I was from the finish and it was disheartening, to say the least. Luckily, I’m someone who is physically capable of running 6 miles. For someone who might be doing this as their first race beyond a 5k, for example, the overshot on the course could have been much worse. So if it was anyone, I’m glad it was me….I needed a longer run anyway 🙂 I got in 6 total miles in 43 and change after a 2+ mile warm up , which includes some stopping to wait for Dawn to come around the corner. In a nutshell, I feel disappointed with how the day panned out, but shit happens and I can laugh about it now.
Though I did want to beat up said nameless bike pacer after the race 🙂
The day finished with serious party preparation around my house for a fun gathering at night. Lots of people stopped in throughout the day, which was so nice! A lot of people were out of town racing and at different parties around, but it was still a fun time. Thanks everyone who came by!