Fruits of My Labor (Day)

Yes I can! I ran the Francestown Five today, my first 5-mile (8K) race. I had a good run, learned some new things, met some new people. It was a totally awesome day. Another bib on the fridge, baby!

The Prep
Rise at 6:30am (OK, 7… ish… hit snooze, hit snooze, hit snooze). Dress in running shirt, skirt & sneaks, eat half a banana, 3 spoons of yogurt, handful of granola. Drink 20 oz. water, pour a black coffee to travel, bang: out the door. Bang: back in the door, for pants & a hoodie, which I pull on over my other outfit cuz it’s 45-degrees. Weatherman called for 75 & sunny. Later, I guess?

Half hour drive to Francestown, must park & be registered before 8:30am. Nailed that one, so far so good. The 8K starts at 9:15am, just after a 5K that runs at 8:30am. It was strange for me to wait for the longer race! So… stand around, stretch. Go pee. Actually enjoy how warm it is in the porta-potty. I’m not kidding. Stand around more, blab w/hubby & neighbors we know. Do jumping jacks to warm up. Pee again. Finally, queue up at the rear of the herd. The race starts.

The Race Report
I never take music to a race, so I occupied my mind trying to do everything everyone told me. Take it slow at the start, run my own race for the first mile. Then look for someone ahead of me as a “pacer,” someone a little faster but not too much faster. Stick with them, try to close the gap, pass if I comfortably can. I tried to maximize my breathing. Tried to open my stride on flat straight-aways, tried to keep a steady pace uphill. Relax my body, don’t tense up…

In between the effort, I enjoyed the scenery. The first 4 mi. was breathtaking. Dirt roads lined with stone walls, shade trees, fields & forest, the occasional historic houses, as prim as they were in the 1800s. Quintessential New England. Running is a great way to remember that I live in a beautiful area.  By the last mile, the course turns mundane (paved state route) but by then, I wasn’t looking at anything but the runners ahead & the “FINISH” banner.

I came in at 49:02, which is spot-on my usual 10 min. mile. I may be slow, but I’m reliable. I should have been a train.

I now confess I almost lost my nerve to do this race. I did something foolish last night. I looked at last year’s race results for the first time & to my horror, saw stats similar to this. I have only run the full 5-mile distance twice in training runs here at home. Once at 57 min, the other at 59 (that one I had to walk some, due to humid heat & wheezing). So when I saw that kind of performance might put me just before the “sweep” runners, I felt a little sick. I slept like crap as a result, which didn’t exactly help my confidence this morning. But I told myself that I said I was going to run this race & I would run it, no backing out. Even if I came in dead last, I would feel good that I saved the person in front of me from being dead last.

Lo & behold, I beat the odds. But not without a little drama, and a great message from a stranger…

At the 3.5 to 4 mi. mark, this guy kept creeping up on me. We were so evenly paced that I wasn’t sure if he was just following me, or trying to pass. He was starting to annoy me, stress me out. He was so close behind w/his loud footfalls, heavy breathing, hocking loogies & spitting. Finally, he came up on my left as we were about to turn right & I’d had enough. I privately decided to slow for a few seconds on the turn, figuring to let him pass & then follow him instead. Surprisingly, he called me on it. First time anyone ever talked to me during a race!

He said, “Hey, don’t just let me pass. You’ve been my pacer the whole race. We’ve got less than a mile to go & you’re running a good race. If I am coming up on you, I may be able to pass & hold, or maybe not. You stay ahead or with me as long as you can. I should only go on ahead if you can’t honestly hold your position.”

How did he know I was an inexperienced racer? Good advice, duly noted: Obviously, I should never thwart a runner coming up to pass. But I shouldn’t lie down, either. If it means running neck & neck for a while, I should do so, to keep my position as long as I can. So I did. I ran my own pace next to him until I couldn’t hold any longer. We came to the last uphill before the finish — stupid uphill finishes! — and he started to lose me, so I asked that he please NOT spit to his right, as I would be on his right flank as long as I could manage it. He laughed an attagirl & said “Gotcha: Spit to my left.”

After the race, he introduced himself. We chatted only a few minutes, but long enough for me to find out there’s a 10K race in my area next month. It’s the Leaf Peeper Classic 10K on October 10, and the best part is a start time of 1PM. Wish granted, an afternoon race! No zombie morning run for once, woo hoo! So thanks to this random Messenger of the Universe, I can complete my goal of running a 10K this year after all. Then, I can put my 10K training plan behind me & start figuring how the hell I’m going to stay on target for my 15K trail run next June when winter’s coming & I have a serious aversion to both treadmill runs & running in cold, ice & snow. Anybody know an angry trainer with a bullwhip? Cripes.

After the race, more fun to be had. Yes, they had watermelon & brownies, but since the race was part of a town fair, there were crafts, a flea market & a really cool live animal display. I mean, how could I resist a Mediterranean Spur Thighed Tortoise (above), after just running a slow but successful race? Hooray for the beautiful tortoises of the world! I really want a pet armadillo, tho. Bad. We didn’t stay long enough for me to dive on a piglet in the Pig Scramble. If you can catch one, you get to keep it or put it up for auction. Guess what I’d do? HA!

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17 Responses to “Fruits of My Labor (Day)”

  1. mary taitt Says:

    Sounds like you had a really great weekend!!! Good job running and finishing!

    I used to like to run, and ran some races. But not recently.

    I did jog every day last week. None yet this week.

    Turtles are good. :-D

  2. mike Says:

    45 degrees?
    Relative to the time of year, that’s actually kinda COLD!
    And you won’t find me saying that often.

    I hope your 1PM race is a balmy 52 or so. You’ve earned it.

    Note, also, I’ll need to pester you daily leading up to the race (bullwhip?).
    I knew you’d have doubts but never thought you’d inflict such deep wounds as studying prior years’ results? That’s playing with fire.

    My advice for you next time, get into your competitor’s head.
    Tell him you’ll beat him (Messenger of the Universe or not), and see if he can hang once you’re in his head.

    Stellar job, keep at it and let’s try for a heroic sub-1 hour 10K.
    You’ve got it in you.

    • henniemavis Says:

      You plan to pester me daily about my 10K? Yikes. Good thing I’m going to be away a lot in the next month, so I’ll have little computer access, HA!

      Hey, that reminds me… as part of my return trip from my NC triathlon in 2 weeks, I will be taking SEPTA from Downingtown to Philly’s AMTRAK depot. Too bad you’re working on a Tuesday. My mom could drop me an hour early at the platform, we could have a SLOW run around town together, grab some coffee, then get me back in time to catch my train… and I could stink in my running clothes for 10 hrs. all the way back to NH. Sounds like fun, don’t it? I know how you love public transportation cuz of riders like me :-)

      Regarding “getting in my competitor’s head,” it’s not my style to smack talk strangers at a race. To you online doesn’t count, smart boy.

      10K in under an hour. Got it. I do admit that slow or not, it is kind of fun for me to think that I can run a 10 min. mi. whether I run 2 miles or 6. I’ve already started thinking that if I can trail run that 15K next year, heck… what’s to stop me from a half marathon? HA!

      • mike Says:

        And thanks again for publishing your race report so promptly! On a holiday weekend!

        SEPTA from Downingtown?
        See, there’s your first problem.
        You’re missing a great training opportunity.
        RUN from Honey Brook to Downingtown, plenty of nice scenery and your mom saves a couple bucks on gas.
        Now, that effort would leave your clothes ripe for the 10 hour train ride.
        I’ve been on a train ONCE so I can just imagine how delightful it would be.

      • henniemavis Says:

        I just Googlemapped that action, genius, and by God, it’s only 12.5 mi. I smell a half-marathon comin’ on! Or should I say my fellow train commuters will smell it? HA!
        Two hitches:
        1.) Who wants to run a straight shot on Rte. 322 the whole way? Ug-ly. Ugly. And did I mention dangerous?
        2.) You gonna run alongside to caddy my luggage in your defunct stroller?

  3. Sandy Coleman Says:

    5 miles. Very impressive! I enjoyed reading about your process, even what you ate. Good luck with the next one.

  4. mike Says:

    Wow, that one drew tears. Yeah, my “defunct stroller.” I’ll have you know that my daughter finally asked me to take them out on (dangerous) 322 some day soon to see the nearby farmer’s pregnant cat and impending kittens. But, otherwise, generally defunct.

    I think 322 is beautiful.

    And you run by my neighborhood, so that would give you a subconcious pick-me-up.

    In conclusion, ride from mom sounds best. So does time away from the computer!

    • henniemavis Says:

      Uh oh, now I’m sad if I drew a tear from you or any other unhappy feelings :-( My comments are never meant to have bite. I’m like a terrier — sometimes my high energy in play makes me bark too much, oops? Full apology to follow by email… after which I hope to see the kittens, too?

  5. heatherlorin Says:

    Woo hoo! Congrats on your race – very impressive. It’s awesome that someone took the trouble to school you in strategy during the race!

    Amtrak goes right through Richmond so be sure to wave when you head through town. Or jump out and we can do the Sullivan 5K as a follow up to your tri. I could use a good pacer (I’m back to running – yea!) :)

    • henniemavis Says:

      I’m only taking AMTRAK between Philly to VT. My Mom & I have to drive from her house in PA to NC & back, cuz we have her bike with us. Boo hoo, we don’t go thru Richmond. We drive south on the Roanoke side of VA! If we did, I’d insist we meet… but for some decadent FOOD, not a run, HA! So glad to hear you’re running again, yay! That means injury pain is under control, yes?

      • heatherlorin Says:

        Bummer – so close and yet so far. I could definitely set you up with some decadent food in Richmond. We have two cupcake shops and a french bakery within walking distance of my house!

        Injury pain is still so-so. I was fit for custom orthotics yesterday. My doc wants me to stick with my training so we can tell if they make any difference. Bowing out of the 8k though for now. Hoping to sign up for a 10k in the spring though. Wish me luck!

      • henniemavis Says:

        OK, well at least if there’s pain, it’s being managed :-) I’m definitely wishing you lots of luck. You guys are my soul-sisters. My first 10K is Oct. 10, eek. Wish you could run it with me!

      • heatherlorin Says:

        Oct. 10 is the same day as the Run Like a Girl 8k I was going to do. No time to train up for it now. Good luck with your 10k – I know you’ll do great!

        BTW, your soul-sisters are about to try something new – a virtual book club. First up: “No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II”. Colleen should be writing about the plan this weekend. First two chapters to be read by next Sunday if you want to join in. :)

      • henniemavis Says:

        The book sounds great, I enjoy reading about history. That whole David McCullough series 1776, John Adams, etc. I was entralled! I’ll have to Google to see who wrote this one. Not sure I’ll join this first round, my hands are full with several trips coming up & I am taking sketchbooks instead of reading ;-) Will Colleen post the list to your blog? I might join in on the second book, or who knows, maybe this one but catch up next month, if you’re still on it in October? Perfect timing, as I have the most time for reading in winter… when my works slows & it gets dark at 5pm, rats!

      • heatherlorin Says:

        Yep she should be putting up some info either today or tomorrow. I ended up posting yesterday (finally!) so she decided to wait. If you like the John Adams series I’m betting you’ll like this one. I’m really enjoying it. Won the Pulitzer Prize for History. Join in when you can. :)

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