It’s kind of a weird feeling when you go to a race all by yourself. You notice things, about yourself and others, you wouldn’t otherwise. You have no one to talk though your pre-race jitters with, no one to consult on last minute outfit changes (should you or shouldn’t you?) and no one to give that final fist bump and “push well” cheer to. It’s weird.
Such was the case when I decided to run the Stockade-A-Thon 15K in Schenectady, NY last Sunday. I have run this race three other times (I think?) with my SIL. She had the audacity to put running on her back burner this season, and I was left with the decision to race alone.
My first thought was “hell yes!” followed quickly by “wait, what?” I have raced alone before. I train mostly alone though out the year, so what was the big deal?
First off, we were traveling to NY. Second, I felt like I was putting the rest of my family out by having them obligated to wake-up, get all the kids ready (4 in total) and get out on the cold race course to watch their almost 40 year-old sister/wife/mother/daughter/aunt run yet another race. I think they’re kinda over it. At least I thought they were.
So, I decided to do it, mostly because I love this race. My husband, the night prior, asked with a look that was equal parts disgust and confusion “What do you love about this race?” So I told him:
The course (a historical route through the stockade, down by the river and though a park). The small but mighty field (2400 runners, USAT sanctioned) and the manageable 9.3 distance. Although he still looked confused, I think he was surprised I had an intelligent answer.
The morning of the race, I was in the kitchen, alone, eating a multigrain English muffin with natural peanut butter and a banana with a chaser of Robitussin. That’s right, I was sick and I was still going to race. I have issues.
Because no one was there to temper my type A anxiety, I arrived at the race with an hour and half until the start. I parked right in front of the YMCA packet pick-up, which took exactly seven minutes to pick up. In the remaining 83 minutes I:
– changed my outfit and shed a layer
– took a bunch of pictures
– parked my car in the lot
– used an indoor bathroom twice
– warmed-up for a good 10 minutes
It was great. Anytime I don’t have a small human calling “mommy” 57 hundred times a minute, is pure bliss.
The starting line was adjacent to a park and I spied a fellow Oiselle teammate. We hugged, talked and laughed like old friends, although we had just met.
When it was time to line-up, the men were separated by a divider, from the women. It was kind of cool to start with just the ladies but you should have seen how reluctant we all were to get right up to the start line! The men? They practically rushed it and, some of them looked like they may have been better off spectating the race…if you know what I mean. We ladies really need to #WomanUp on this one!
When the gun went off, I was trying not to think about my cold and I wanted to see if I could hang with a 6:30 pace. That would put me at a 1:00:00 finish and that has been my goal since I started doing this race. My best up until this year was 1:06:00. Yes, I know shaving 6 minutes off a race time is incredibly hard, but I thought I was up for the challenge. Spoiler alert: I wasn’t.
After mile 3, I realized I wouldn’t be able to remain conscious and keep hitting 6:30s so I toned it down, felt instantly better and tried to hold on to a 6:45 and a PR.
I didn’t know exactly where my family would be on the course, but there was some discussion about them being in the park, so the kids could stay occupied. I came zooming into the park at mile 6 and there may as well have been tumbleweeds there. No kids. No family. Keep pushing!
During the later miles, I started to pass all the women who look really fast and are wearing team singlets and underwear. Yes, I have the singlet but I have yet to achieve underwear elite status.
I know this race is super competitive so I was hoping to maybe, just maybe, come in third in my age group. Spoiler alert: I didn’t.
In the final mile, I came flying down a huge hill toward the finish. I heard my Dad’s signature whistle, saw my brother with my nephew on his shoulders, and my heart swelled! They were clapping and yelling and my brother shouted “everyone else is up ahead!” as I whizzed by. Sure enough, I saw my kids next. They were mesmerized! No need for a park, they were completely enthralled with the athletes in front of them, and when they saw mom, it was over. Hands shot out for high-fives, my husband, stepmom and SIL were screaming and as I passed by I thought “they’re so not over it,” followed immediately by “I hope they never are!”
I crossed the finish in almost exactly 1:03:00 (6:46 pace). A PR by three minutes! If I were four months older, I would have come in second in the ‘masters’ division. Damn.
The overall female winner finished in 51:09 (5:30/pace). She’s 26. She set a new course record by 25 seconds. She is most definitely an underwear elite.
Although I was struggling through some of the race, and had to abandon my goal pace, I still really enjoyed the atmosphere, my family, and the huge and delicious brunch (complete with a celebratory mimosa) we all enjoyed afterward.
I may have gone to the race alone, but with my amazing family support, I’m really never alone.
Regardless of a race, who is in your support crew?
What have you done, when you’re sick, that you really shouldn’t have?
Do you race/train alone?
Underwear status – hahaha!!!! My fam is definitely my race crew. It never fails to brighten my mood and quicken my step those 2 seconds that I see them. Now I just need Ron to learn how to do your dad’s whistle!
It’s SO helpful!! As soon as I hear it, I know exactly where to look 🙂
My family is my race crew especially my husband. He has run almost every training run with me this year. Even early morning which he is not a fan of.
I love love reading about your running. I’m in awe of your pace.
You are so awesome Jill! Thank you! I wish my husband would run with me…even one mile, but that is not happening!!
hahahahahah that comment! Elite status, YOU are elite status silly lady! You are a rockstar! I know what you mean about going on your own, I always found that weird, but sometimes its nice, and I always end up meeting people there. Which is good, as you wouldn’t meet anyone if you were with others! Who was the underwear woman….do you know? I am not sure if you would class my raceway outfit as underwear elite….I don’t wear the buns like most women….I did that in college, and as soon as I could get away from it I could….but my shorts are pretty short haha!
I was thinking of you when I wrote this! I mean, I totally get why they/you wear them, and my shorts have gotten a lot shorter over the years, but unless I’m going to run YOUR pace (which will never happen!) I’m not wearing them!!! No, I don’t know who she is, but I think she was closer to my age aka “old lady status” and we were battling over the last mile. It was FUN!
Ooops! It sent before I finished!
Either way, CONGRATS on the PR! That is a great time, and a great race! I am sure Oiselle is very proud! You are the definition of the kind of role model they strive for 🙂
Awwww – thank you so much Tina! That means so much to me. Thank you!!
Aww, I love that your family is so very supportive of you. I got to admit though you made me smile about not hearing”Mommy” for a bit though, because trust me as much as I love being a mom, sometimes I could so go without hearing my name a million times a day, too!
It is the TRUTH! I was laughing to myself because it was so peaceful to just be ALONE. Gotta take it when/where we can, right?
Whoa, mama! Congrats on a super speedy race and huge PR!! In my book, you’re way beyond elite status, so get those undies and wear them proudly!
Hahahaha!!! I love seeing your face here my friend. Thank you!
I was laughing about the underwear elite status. I was asking my husband why the elite women at the marathon were wearing underwear. I kept saying “it’s so cold! What’s wrong with a nice pair of capris?!” Haha.
I actually do most of my workouts alone but I would definitely feel lonely if I didn’t have someone to talk to before a race or event!
I never understood the outfits the elites wore – tanks, underwear and then gloves!? But, now I get it. I don’t wear it, but I get it!!
As I watched the NYC marathoners elite group with their cutoffs through all that wind, I thought–that will NEVER be me!! 🙂 Congrats on your PR!! I have yet to have family at a race (either I have been too far, or the weather has been awful) but having them right there when I get home to tell them they are proud of me (especially the 2 year old *swoon*) is the best feeling ever. Most of my races have been done alone 🙂 You look great in your pic!!
Thanks Nellie! You just wait until you see those three most important men in your life cheering for you – it will be hard to breathe!! Have they asked you if you won the race yet? Mine do that all the time and it’s hilarious. Of course, I always tell them YES!
Every single time! LOL
Very cool! Congrats on your PR! I run races alone most of the time. It would be nice to find someone to run with regularly. You’re right. Your never really alone with your family supporting you.
I miss running regularly with some friends. The miles go by a lot quicker!! Thanks Kris 🙂
Everyone can wear the runderwear! That is awesome and congrats on your PR.
Love that – runderwear!!!! Thanks Hollie!
I’m so confused – how were you unable to take a mere 6 minutes off your PR when you were sick and chugging robitussin before the start? I am ridiculously impressed that you got a 3 min PR while sick – you are unbelievable, lady! You’re my running superhero, underwear clad or not.
You’re killing me over here Carly!! xoxoxo
I wish my family came out to my races. I’ve run many alone where I end up crossing the finish line alone too and it’s really quite depressing. They have been to 3 of my races….both marathons and one trail half marathon. I know it’s really hard to drag my boys around so I totally get it, but still, it’s a bummer. Congrats on the PR despite being sick!
I know that feeling all too well. This is the only other race my family comes to – two out of about 15 that I run a year, where I have ground support. Usually it’s just me and my friends, which is fine too, but you do get that extra boost when your family is there!
Underwear status cracked me up! Nice PR. Um, I AM the support crew. LOL. I always do things I shouldn’t do when I am sick. Learned my lesson this year with pneumonia. I didn’t respect how sick I was and I think it contributed to other health issues throughout the year.
It’s awful that we wait until something THAT drastic happens before we allow ourselves the rest we need!
You are the very best support crew ever!!!
Wow, the atmosphere is uniquely beautiful. I can see why you’d want to still attend. Like you my family is my support crew! Congrats on the race! You still rocked it!
Thanks Joi! It was awesome!!
Elite underwear…I was laughing every time you wrote that. We called them bun huggers in college. They were our uniform back then. There were a couple girls on the team that flat out refused to wear them. I would never wear them now. Of course I’d also look like an idiot wearing them chugging along at my talking race pace…hehe. I have faith in you to earn those elite underwear. You can wear them now…you’re definitely elite underwear worthy. And on another note, I can’t believe you PR’ed when you were sick! You go girl!
Like I said on FB, I would now need the “masters” version of those little things and that is NOT happening!!
Thanks Michelle 🙂
I know that you could easily sport the “underwear!!!”
So, if you are almost a masters does that mean I’m a masters+?????
How tall is your husband?
Love that your boys aren’t over it – I don’t think they will be any time soon with you as their mom.
Great job- you rock always!!!
I think anyone over 40 is a master! We’ll still be masters when we’re 80 and out there getting it done!!
My husband is 5′ 11″ on a good day…we’re a short family 🙂
Underwear elite – I love it!! And brrrr, I’m cold just looking at the photos! I really hope it’s not cold in Philly next weekend! Sorry, I digressed. Congrats on your PR Allie!! That’s so awesome and I love love love that your family loves cheering for you. I love seeing my boys cheer too and I hope that they are never over it either.
Thanks Christine! The key is to have warm clothing on before the start and immediately upon finishing – during the race you’ll be smoking’ hot!! Good luck!
I think I always do what I’m not supposed to do when I’m sick!
I think all that fresh air in your lungs was maybe ok.
The twins looked adorable. Of course they’re not over it. And I don’t think they ever will be.
The air was definitely helpful and I was trying to focus on getting as much in as I could. Unfortunately this meant running with my mouth hanging open for the entire race!!
AWESOME job!!! You have such a fun cheer crew :).
My main cheer crew is my hubby! He is SO supportive. My kids are also on that list. I have a handful of friends from when I lived in IL that always text me after races to see how I did and then I also love having my ” online” friends :). You guys are the BEST!
I train alone and usually race sorta alone :). My husband comes with and sometimes my kids too. Sometimes my husband races too but we don’t run together.
I do way too much when I am sick….I am a bad patient. I just can’t stop thinking about all the things I need to be doing. I have run sick and worked sick.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just lay in bed, rest, take in plenty of fluids and just be when we’re sick?? Oh I would love that!
So glad to hear you have such a great support crew!! I’m always here cheering you on from afar. Can’t wait to hear about Richmond!!
Falling sick and still racing? You’re a rockstar. Yay for family!
I’m a bit obsessed…but you already knew that!
So I assume once you are 40 you move to a different bracket? I pity those women in that bracket when you get there. I do exercise when I’m sick – it can’t make me feel any worse. Racing, that’s another story. I’ll let you handle that!
YES – new bracket in 4 months and I cannot wait…although it’s a very tough one in triathlon because that’s when everyone makes the switch!!
I think that having no one to debate clothing options with on the morning of the race is the WORST part about racing alone. I ran a 10K by myself this summer and was paralyzed with indecision about absolutely everything. I almost went up to a stranger and asked, “Should I wear another layer? Should I hold my phone the whole time so I can listen to music? TELL ME WHAT TO DO!”
That is TOO funny!!!…and I know exactly how you feel.
Congrats on the PR … and sick to boot! Don’t you love how we always play the what if game? What if I was 4 months older, what if I hadn’t been sick, what if I had been wearing elite undies? Ha! Why do we always do this to ourselves? I am still annoyed at myself for being just 6 seconds away from breaking into a faster “minute” in my marathon time. LOL! Awesome job lady! You are a running rock star!
I know!!! I guess it’s part of what makes us runners – that competitiveness, even if it’s only with ourselves. Trust me though, I did very much enjoy the 3 minute PR 🙂