Despite how confident I tried to seem about this race, I was so nervous! My stomach started roiling on Thursday. On Friday, I tried to keep busy and think about anything but the race. On Saturday morning, I was a nervous wreck. I ate a banana on the way to Gas Works Park and almost puked halfway through it.
And the weather? So much for the email about it being “perfect.” It rained as we waited for the race to start, and we huddled under a tent to keep dry. I wouldn’t be dry for long, though!
My mom (left) and Aaron’s mom, Greta, came out to support me! I was thrilled to have them there. And Aaron took all of the amazing photos, of course!
The day before the race, I went to the D.O.L. to renew my driver’s license. I wore ill-advised sandals and got blisters on the bottoms of my feet from scurrying around downtown Seattle to get there before it closed! My calf muscles were also tight. Silly, silly me!
This race was limited to 1,000 participants, but only 417 people ran. It was a very nice, small, uncrowded race! I lined up in the starting corral at the 9:30 pace sign — that was my goal pace.
Aaand this picture scares me. Number 122 looks like he’s ready to eat me alive.
Once the race began, I almost started crying immediately. I was so happy to be running this race — my farthest distance ever — on my 24th birthday! I also quickly realized that my legs and feet felt perfectly fine — no pain from the blisters or calves. So lucky!!
Off I go with my gigantic protruding bun. Ha!
A police escort led us through Gas Works Park and through the streets of Fremont to the Fremont Bridge. Right after the bridge, I passed a marker that said “1.” I checked my watch and it said I’d only been running for a little over 6 minutes and 0.6 miles. WTF? I started thinking the race organizers had massively screwed up the mile markers.
After crossing the bridge, I started a little out-and-back along the Fremont Ship Canal that seemed to take for-ev-er. Every time I thought the turnaround point would be coming up, I kept seeing more and more trail stretch ahead of me. The frontrunners started running back the other way. I kept seeing more confusing mile markers that couldn’t possibly be right. That part started making me mad!
But I was doing well and the rain was light. I felt good, but really needed the boost of being done with the “out” portion of the out-and-back. A person dressed as a giant bird was dancing at the end of the trail to signal the turnaround, and I laughed and cheered as I turned back.
The first aid station was on the “back” side of the out-and-back, and I grabbed a cup of some sort of sports drink and an apple-cinnamon Hammer Gel. I chugged the drink and tucked the gel in my pants, where it stayed until mile 7 or so.
The “back” portion was awesome because now I was the one passing people the other way! I was so inspired by the people chugging along the opposite direction, too. Yayyy, runners!
With the out-and-back done, I still had an entire lake to run around. No big deal.
At this point, the woman behind me (Meredith) had identified me as her pacer, telling me I had good form and a strong pace. This gave me a huge boost of confidence and a reason to never give up in this race!
As I ran along the west end of the lake, I tried to stay at what my watch told me was a 9:30 pace. I felt really good at that pace and didn’t want to burn out by trying to speed up or get too off track by slowing down. I listened to Meredith’s conversation with her male running buddy to distract me from the running — they actually discussed his adoption, looking for his birth parents, etc. Really interesting stuff! I also thought, How the hell are these people having a conversation right now!? It was not a talking pace for me!
The route around the lake was awesome because I could always tell exactly where I was and how much farther I had to run by looking out at the lake. It was also nice and scenic, even though the weather was drizzly and gray.
I just kept chugging along and cursing the awful mile markers, which kept saying I was at mile 7, 8, 9 when I clearly wasn’t. It wasn’t until marker 10 that I realized they were kilometer markers. Duhhh, Devon!! I’m so used to mile markers in every race I’ve done that it didn’t occur to me that this one would mark kilometers!
I perked up at that point as I looked at my watch and saw 55:50 — a definite 10K PR, as my 10K race time was 56:25. I started my watch a little early before crossing the start line, so I think my 10K time was about 55:40. I realized I was blowing my goal pace out of the water!! And my watch was definitely off in terms of telling me my current pace — I was running faster than what it told me.
I saw Aaron, my mom and Greta just after the 10K mark, which was another HUGE boost!
There’s Meredith and her adopted running buddy trailing me. Greta and my mom were cheering like crazy, and I wanted to yell, “I haven’t stopped running!” or “I beat my 10K PR!” but I didn’t know if I could muster the breath, so I settled for a smile and a wave.
After this, I plotted to take my Hammer Gel right before the next aid station so I could wash it down. I ate maybe ¼ of it as I eyed the volunteers with cups, then threw the rest away after I chugged my drink. I didn’t really want to take the time to take the whole thing, and since I hadn’t practiced with gel, I didn’t want to risk a stomach cramp.
As I ran along the east side of the lake, the course dipped down into a neighborhood right on the water, and I knew at some point it would go back uphill to get to the main street and the University Bridge. I kept chugging along, and there were about three little hills at various points. I powered up them by shortening my stride and swinging my arms to give myself more momentum, like I’ve learned to do from training with DetermiNation. It worked amazingly, and I passed quite a few people (including some who stopped to walk) on the hills! Hill repeats pay off!!!
By the time I made it to the University Bridge, I really wanted to walk. I had just climbed the last hill, which was the steepest, and I was exhausted from the effort. This is where I started chanting in my head, “Do not stop. You are doing this. You are almost done. Just do it,” and that continued for the rest of this race. I NEVER WALKED. Mental cheerleading, people!
After crossing the bridge, I knew I was in the home stretch. I kept a strong pace as the course jumped back onto the Burke-Gilman Trail, and I saw my crew again at what I think was mile 8.5 or so.
There’s my shadow, Meredith, in the white jacket! I’m not sure what happened to her buddy.
I worried that Aaron and our moms wouldn’t make it to the finish line in time, but I had plenty of distance left to run. I really started pushing it here and felt like I was flying-slash-dying. More mental chanting.
Finally, finally, FINALLY I saw the entrance to Gas Works Park and knew I was almost done. I rounded a corner and saw my crew cheering like crazy! HI GUYS!!!
My mom yelled, “GO DEV!” Greta yelled, “LOOK AT YOUR TIME!!!” Indeed, I looked at my time, and was so, so thrilled. I hadn’t been keeping track of the time on my watch — just my pace — and I was pretty shocked.
Meredith stayed on me till the end, finishing right behind me and even matching my stride!
Official chip time: 1:23:07
Average pace: 8:55
Amount of joy I got out of this race: Infinite
My first medal!
I’ll forgive the missing apostrophe.
I was thirsty and needed to sit down for a minute after I finished, but other than that I felt GREAT! I’m amazed how good I felt after 9.3 miles and I have so much more confidence for my first half-marathon next month!
This race had some of the most bomb food available — peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and WATERMELON, also known as the greatest thing I’ve ever tasted in my life. There were also about 4 laptops lined up on a table, which you could use to immediately look up your time! Genius!!!
This was my best race yet. I have no idea how I managed to run more than 9 miles at a sub-9-minute pace, but I’ll chalk it up to these things:
– diligent speed training, hill work and long runs
– abstaining from alcohol for 3 weeks
– finally having the right shoes and arch supports
– RUNNING MY FREAKIN’ ASS OFF!
When I turned 23, I could barely run a mile. What a great way to kick off age 24!