Sunday, June 7, 2015

I Survived My First 10K - And You Can, Too!

I posted a bit ago that I was training for my first 10K, the awesome Longest Causeway Run sponsored by the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce.

When I signed up for this a few months ago, I'm not sure what I was thinking. What I wasn't thinking was this: "Hey! A 10K is twice the distance of a 5K! 6.2 miles!"

Disclaimer: I was never very good at math.

Anyway, in spite of that little lapse in intelligence, I did it. I finished my first ever 10K yesterday with a time of 1:46:12. Here's how it all went down:

I drove to Port Isabel Friday night with Shannon to pick up race packets for me and my running buddy, Anita (Rinku, aka the Energizer Bunny, was supposed to race with us but had to go out of town at the last minute and couldn't go. We missed you, Rinku!). Got the packets with no problems, had a quick dinner, then drove home. I spent the rest of the evening obsessively getting all my race gear ready, including packing a bag with a change of clothes for the long ride home. After some great last minute advice from Coach Iris via Facebook, I hit the sack at about 10pm.

4am: Up with the pups, shower, managed to get into my race clothes with a minimum of swearing (hey, YOU try to get into a sports bra just after showering without cussing at it. Are you with me, ladies?), gathered all my crap and headed out the door.

5:05-ish am: Picked up race buddy Anita at Valley Running Co. (slightly late), realized I forgot the bug spray but Anita got some when we stopped for gas. On the road by 5:20am or so.

6:30am - Arrived at Port Isabel, found a barely legal parking place just outside the event center where the finish line was, and headed for the dreaded Port-a-Potties until we realized the event center was open and we could use the much nicer indoor restrooms. Took care of business. Mostly.

6:45-ish am - Caught the (very nice) shuttle over to Schlitterbahn, where the race was going to start. Took us about 10 minutes to get there, very convenient system.

7:00am - Stood around talking and asking each other if we were crazy, pre-race jitters and all. Anita bravely visited the Port-a-Potty one more time and managed to survive. Had time for a selfie:

7:30am - started stretching, all the while hearing Coach Ben's voice in our heads as we went through our routine.

7:50am - Anita and I walked to the starting line. It was already getting hot, so we were eager to get going.

8:00am - And they're off!
Actual Race Report

I had to fight off a lot of mental demons at the beginning of this race. I'll be honest and say I felt terrible at the beginning. Everything hurt. It was hot. I was already tired - probably lack of sleep and inadequate nutrition had a lot to do with that. I already know it takes me about a mile to get comfortable so I kept reminding myself of that. I realized I was running with my head down, so I channeled Coach Iris and picked my head up to enjoy the scenery. It really was nice to run through the park and see all the ships and stuff out there. By mile 2 I was feeling better.

I did 10/2 intervals and hydrated every time I walked. I also had some sport beans and Honey Stinger gels to snack on, all of which I ended up using. The walkers were scheduled to start at 8:30, so my goal was to make it back past the starting line before the walkers were released. Happily, I accomplished that.

I got to the first water station, about 2 miles in. Nice people were handing out little cups of cold water. I drank most of mine then tossed the rest over my head and down my back, which felt awesome. It was dang HOT out there. The heat radiating off of the pavement was intense.

Got to the Causeway and the epic part of the race began. I could see the incline looming in the distance:

Oh dear god I'm insane.
I tried not to think about it. As I was studiously not thinking about it, Yanet and Denise came cruising by. Cool! I had no idea they were racing and was happy to see them. Then they said they had gotten there late...and yet still managed to not only catch me, but pass me. Not so happy to see them then.

JUST KIDDING!! It's always great to see fellow 101ers out at races.

They were up ahead of me but graciously waited at the top of the Causeway and invited me to take a selfie with them:

Top of the Causeway selfie with Yanet and Denise. All is forgiven.
I tried to run up the Causeway. I really did. I got about halfway up and had to walk the rest. I was tired. The pavement was sizzling. There was a pretty decent ocean breeze, but it was still hot. I was happy to head downhill finally.

As we left the Causeway, runners were directed to turn left and keep going for the last 1.5 or so miles. This part of the race is where things got really dicey for me mentally. I had my interval timer going on my watch so I didn't know how much further I had to go, but that last loop seemed like it would never end.

I had to walk a lot of that last mile. I was pooped. I finished the last of my snacks and was SO happy to see the turn to the finish line. A very nice police officer was standing there directing us and sent some encouraging words my way, which was nice. I really appreciate all the law enforcement folks who were out there to make sure everyone stayed safe. It was a hot day for them, too.

I ran the last 1/2 mile or so, crossed the finish line, and was handed my medal and a bottle of water. Sweet! Remembered to stop my watch as I crossed:
Not horrible for my first 10K attempt.
I did some cool-down stretches and then began looking for Anita, but couldn't find her. It was then I realized we had not exchanged phone numbers before the race, so I couldn't text her to let her know I was finished. DOH!! I finally tried to connect with her on FB - success! We found each other and took our post-race selfie with our medals:
A quick change of clothes and we were on our way back.

My overall impressions:

1. I loved the route
2. They need to start an hour earlier. It's just too hot at 8am
3. Not NEAR enough water stations. Two stations for a 10K is not good.
4. Race photos - they stopped at 1:11:45-ish. A real bummer, because I would have paid money for a photo of me finishing my first 10K.
5. T-shirts - VERY cool!
6. Medals - not so much. A generic running medal with a race logo sticker stuck on the back.

Guess I'm spoiled by things like this:

From my first trail race. Blog post coming soon.
What I learned:

1. Racing is 99% mental. The other 1% is mental.
2. Training plans work
3. Coaches are awesome
4. Running with friends beats running alone
5. Nutrition and hydration are important.
6. Stretching and icing are important
7. Strategically placed Body Glide CAN make a difference!
8. The sky is the limit

Survival tips for Newbies:

1. Train, train, train!
2. Formulate a plan and stick to it
3. Get your stuff together the night before. Make a list and check it twice. Nothing sucks more than arriving at the race site and realizing you've forgotten something.
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drink even if you don't feel like it.
5. Do NOT try anything new (nutrition, drinks, clothes, shoes, etc.) on race day. The last thing you want is to find out the gel you ate causes gastric distress (to be polite) or the fancy new shorts you got tend to crawl up where they don't belong. It's not fun to run an entire race picking wedgies out of your...well, you get the point. (***Note - these things did NOT happen to me...just things I've heard)
6. Run with a buddy if you can, or have someone there to support you even if they're not running
7. Dress appropriately for the conditions
8. Get to the race site in plenty of time to stretch properly and take care of any other business you may have. The line for the port-a-potties gets long pretty quickly
9. If racing more than 30-45 minutes from home, take clothes to change into. Baby wipes, a towel, and fresh, non-sweaty clothes are awesome - and anyone you're traveling with will thank you!
10. Always have ID with you.
11. Have fun!   

Overall, I had fun and I'm glad I did this - if for no other reason than to prove to myself that I CAN. As Coach Iris always says, "Si se puede!"

***Extra special thanks to Running 101 coaches (Iris, Hector, Ari, Ben, and John) for not only starting and fostering this great running community, but for pushing us past what we think our limits are and always having words of support and encouragement for all your runners.

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