The night before the race was very unpredictable in my house. I had planned a sensible pre-race meal but my family had other ideas and came home with Chinese food for dinner. I even had a Mike's Hard Lemonade. I got a look from my husband that said "what the hell?" I never, ever have alcohol the night before a race. I explained that I wasn't expecting to do anything spectacular the next morning. I've been exhausted ever since the Moraga Triathlon. I've barely been able to keep up with my training and had even been fearful of running or pushing it hard after all that severe cramping I experienced. I knew I was in no shape to go out and earn a PR on an unfamiliar course. Thus, the Mike's and Chinese food. The course description said the 5k was all paved straight out and back. Notice it said, straight, not flat. At the least I was expecting some hills.
Race morning arrived and it was weird to not have to be up super early, but that's the bonus of racing a small, close to home event. I arrived at the race site only to find a set of steep stairs between me and the start line. I didn't think much of it as I headed down to collect my bib and t-shirt. As usual San Pablo Dam Reservoir is beautiful in the morning. The issue would come as I had to hike back up those stairs before the start of the race to put my t-shirt and goodies in the car. Ouch!
There is only one timing mat which is at the finish line with Wolfpack events. I placed myself close to the front of the pack, knowing we would all have the same start time. As we headed out the front of the pack really took off. Strangely, I wasn't getting passed by anyone behind me. The first half mile was downhill so when I looked at my watch and saw I was running a 9:17 minute mile, I just let it be. I knew it would be a sufferfest on the way home so I figured I'd enjoy the fun part while I could. I still hadn't been passed by anyone which seemed odd to me. I wasn't at the front of the pack but clearly I wasn't at the back so I felt good about that. There was an older gentleman in front of me who was wearing a USCG shirt, I tried to just hang with him. Then all of a sudden we hit trail. And by trail I mean rocky, uneven trail. It became a huge effort to just be sure I avoided the largest rocks on the trail. Then the rocky trail turned into uphill rocky trail. Not exactly what I was expecting but I stuck with with. This is the point where I lost the retired Coast Guard runner. As I got close to the turn around I had to slow to a walk. It was hot, dry, rocky and did I mention uphill? I got passed at this point by a woman who appeared to be younger than me. Damn, okay. I grabbed some water at the turn around, drank some and poured the rest over my head and tried to enjoy the downhill section of the trail before I would hit the uphill pavement section again. I was grateful to exit the trail and be back on pavement even if that meant having to run uphill again. I was passed by a few more people who I would later find out were the 5 miler runners who had started ahead of us. I knew the final stretch to the finish line would be flat but the half mile of uphill was taking it's toll. I took another a short walk break before I started running again. Ahead of me I saw the woman that had passed me on the uphill portion of the trail, she was walking. It was so tempting to slow down to a walk behind her and catch my breath. Damn mental games! "You are fine, you don't need to walk!" I told myself. So I passed her and pushed up the hill. As I approached the crest of the hill I looked behind me and saw literally, no one. I breathed a sigh of relief and thought that everyone else was struggling with the course as well. I kicked it in to high gear to sprint to the finish line.
I looked around and seemed sort of surprised that there were not too many people around. I had managed to keep two thirds of the field behind me. I was hoping for maybe 3rd in my age group, so I patiently waited around for results. Wolfpack is awesome about posting results super fast at their races. Sadly, they were having technical difficulties and so we waited around for quite a while to see the results.
I tried to wait for the crowd to dissipate once they finally posted results, I had to look three times because I was sure I was reading it wrong. 1st in my AG! I almost cried (that's not hard to do). I have never placed in my AG, while I've worked on speed over the years and I have seen some great improvements, I'm just not that fast. But on this day I was the fastest of the five women in my AG. Obviously, I should be racing more Wolfpack races to boost my self esteem :)
As a special Mother's Day treat we all got mugs with coffee and biscotti!
1st in my AG
9th in the women's division