Is there any other way to run a three-mile race? People tend to think that a 5K is “just a warm-up” for me, or somehow an “easy” race when, in fact, the opposite is true. A three-mile race is an all out sprint to the finish that is often spent jockeying for position while your lungs burn, your heart swells and your mind is constantly trying to tell your body what to do. It sucks.
Why do I run them? Well, this one in particular was for an excellent cause – The March of Dimes. Not only does a very dear friend of mine work tirelessly for this organization but, my best friend works for the company that has been the head sponsor of this event for years.
March of Dimes leads the way when it comes to helping sick babies become well. When I was pregnant with the twins, my biggest fear was that they were going to be premature and have to spend time in a NICU. I was lucky and my babies came home with me, but a lot of women and families are not so lucky. I was there for them. I was racing with all of them in mind, and it was powerful.
Since this was the inaugural running, there was a small field of about 150 runners. Prior to the race I got the usual “Are you going to win this?” from several of my friends there. But, you never know who is going to show up on race day or how your body is going to perform. Shit happens and I could not finish or come in last. Then I saw my competition.
When you’re in the running community, and race often, you know who the fast chicks are. Three of them showed up at this race. The fastest of all looks just like elite marathoner Desiree Davila who runs for the Hanson Brooks Running Project, and came in 10th at the Boston Marathon a few weeks ago. As soon as I saw her, I knew she would probably win since her pace is about 5:50 or so and mine is around 6. It’s just not happening, and I was fine with that. It was a completely flat course so I set my sights on a sub-20 minute race as my goal.
When the siren sounded at the start (yes, it was a siren and not a gun or horn) we took of a little slowly. It was weird. Hanson Brooks woman took the lead within steps and was gone with the lead guys. I hung in second but was then passed by the two other women just before the first mile marker. The race was run in two loops so I just hung in there and ran as fast as I could, keeping them both within striking distance. My self talk was something like this: “Stay steady, keep breathing, you can do this, run for babies!”
I tried to not think about the hour and fifteen minute bike, and 20 minute run I hammered out the day before. My legs were reminding me plenty without me dwelling on it.
Around mile 1.5 I passed one of the women, so now I just needed to stay close to the last one, who was literally right in front of me. I started thinking about strategy. I tried not to hammer my pace and just stay with her so I could kick at the finish, if I needed to. She could hear me breathing (as well as the surrounding townspeople I’m sure!) so the pressure was on her and I liked it. Just before the final turn toward the finish, I passed her and I felt good enough that I knew I had second.
It was grueling and I felt like I just wanted to lay down and die, but my friend was the finish yelling “Come on Allie! Sub 20 baby!” And that’s when I looked at the clock – 19:50! I crossed in 19:53, smiling on the outside and dying on the inside. Holy hell!!!! Hanson Brooks look-a-like finished in 18:21 to take first by a long shot!
And that’s when it got crappy. I walked back to high five the woman I was dueling with for the last mile and half (she finished 7 seconds behind me) and she kind of just lightly tapped my hand and walked passed me. What the? I have never experienced this after a race. Never.
I’ve thought a lot about this since. I’m as competitive as any person I know – man or woman – but I’m always cordial to whoever bests me in a race. In fact, I love having someone to race with like that. I appreciate it because I know what kind of work it takes to race like that. I never expected to be in that kind of a fight for the finish at this race, and it was exciting and fun. Did I want to win? Hell yes. Was I ecstatic to come in second? Hell yes. Would I have been happy with third? Hell yes!
One of the great things about being a runner, and part of the running community, is sharing stories and thoughts with other runners because they “get it!” I would have loved to talk to these women after the race and swapped stories. I would love to have another couple running friends – especially fast ones! Part of me feels like it was no big deal and I’m expecting too much, but another part of me thinks they all just had bad attitudes. None of them stayed for the awards (they were given out over an hour later so maybe that was it?) and none of them showed any interest in talking with me, or anyone else (but each other) after the race.
Maybe they came in thinking it was going to be a sweep of first, second and third for them and I ruined their plans? Maybe they thought nothing of it, and also feel like it was a great race? I’ll never know.
Here’s where is gets really crappy. About a day later, I signed-up for my Duathlon before THE DUATHLON, which is on May 18th in a near-by town. I always check out my time from last year, and the overall female winner’s time. Well, guess who won the effing duathlon last year? The woman who barely spoke to me after the race (who I beat by 7 seconds)! She’s effing 51 years-old people!!! Now I’m really confused because, I’m so inspired by her overall duathlon time (1:28 vs my 1:38) and the fact that she’s 12 years older then me!
Clearly she qualified for the Duathlon Nationals and I’m sure would have made it to the World Championship as well. I wonder why she’s not competing? Maybe she doesn’t want to talk about it…
Overall, the March of Dimes first Race for Babies was a fantastic event and I cannot wait to do it next year!
Have you ever felt that way after a race? Do you think I’m overreacting?
Do you run/work/volunteer for a cause? If not, which cause would you choose if you could?