Race Day: September 27, 2015
Huntsville, the first road race on my fall calendar. When I penciled it into my race schedule I thought I would be prepared. But with my training setbacks and injuries, this day arrived too soon.
Huntsville is a popular race. It’s the fourth race in the Texas 10 series. I really wanted to do well and place in the top 10, but it’s not my big race. That’s in Katy in November.
The night before I laid out my clothes, and set two alarms for 4:20 a.m. I was feeling anxious, and I had a hard time falling asleep. I woke up several times during the night to check the time. Finally, it was time to get up and get ready. I got dressed and double-checked my gear. With everything packed up, I was off to Huntsville.
I knew the course was going to be hilly, but I had no idea how hilly it actually was. As we pulled into the parking lot, which was on a hill, my first thought was that the hills were going to kill me. I’ve done all of two hill workouts this summer and one hilly race.
I picked up my race packet, made a pit stop, and put on the last of my gear—bib, armband, watch, cap, and handheld water bottle. Even though the series races have aid stations at every mile marker, I carry a bottle for my Nuun electrolyte drink. I’ve found that the Gatorade offered at the aid stations is too sweet for me.
I found my Team Red, White & Blue teammates at the start. We took our pre-race picture and then lined up. I did some more stretching and set my watch for 120/90 intervals. Before long, the gun went off and it was time to race. I started at an easy pace because I knew the hills would be challenging. My goal was to finish sub-2:00.
Mile 1. Within the first quarter mile, we came upon the first hill. And the hills did not stop. It was hill after hill after hill. OK, not quite, but it sure felt like it. We ran through campus and an apartment complex parking lot. My pace was a lot slower than I had hoped, coming out to 13:02 m/m.
Mile 2. This was a pleasant mile. Most of it was downhill with inclines at the beginning and end of the mile. I averaged 12:45 m/m.
Mile 3. Was much like mile 2, but the uphill gain was much greater so that slowed me down. I averaged 13:16 m/m for this one. Somehow I managed to make it through the first three miles, conquering each hill as it came at me.
Mile 4. The fourth mile was relatively flat, and it turned out that was my fastest mile on both loops. I was able to pick up a little speed here, averaging 12:36 m/m. One mile to the midpoint.
Mile 5. We experienced another big gain on mile 5. The climb on this one was insane! My thighs were complaining, but I knew I was close to the halfway point. Or not. Turns out the course was inaccurately measured so we ended up running an extra quarter mile per loop.
I ran with a great group of run/walkers for the first five miles. Most of them were doing the shorter distance, and I lost all but one at the halfway point. I enjoyed their company and the motivation they provided.
The second loop was the same, but slower overall. My thighs were shot from the first loop, and there was no recovering from it. I trudged along. I gave up my goal of finishing top 10, and focused on just finishing. It didn’t help that the mile 8 aid station ran out of water. I really needed that water.
The finish. Seeing that finish line was like seeing an oasis in the desert. I ran to it as fast as I could. I grabbed my water and headed straight to the food table to grab a banana. And yes, they had no bananas! And that, my friends, is why you have support crew at every race. So that they—and not you—can scavenge bananas for you.
Now, is that a perfectly good banana that someone left on the table?