This weekend’s 5K had a tough act to follow. A duo of tough acts, in fact. My two most recent runs, the North Carolina motor speedway 5K and the Ukrop’s 10K in Virginia, were both brilliant, festive, flat, speedy, spirited events that left me with renewed enthusiasm for my 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge. During one I set a PR (yes, I talk like this now); and during the other I ran farther than I ever had before (with only a mild case of jelly legs).
Correction: We had our work cut out for us. (There’s a reason the back of the half-marathon shirt has the slogan “These legs conquered the Great Bay Half Marathon.”)
The last two runs were so fabulously flat, I think I had forgotten that there are many hills in the world, and that they are all positioned to cause runners (OK, me) maximum discomfort.
This run was not flat. And I was ill-prepared (which is slightly pathetic given how many of these suckers I have done).
Rising to the occasion
The first hill came just before the two-mile mark. Before that, I thought I was running very fast. Faster than usual. I wished I had the Garmin that I borrowed from Hubby last week to prove that I was indeed going like stink, but it was on his arm as he ran the half. I was almost convinced that over the first mile I was doing a – shock – sub-10-minute pace. But I don’t think engaging in some disturbingly heavy breathing was an accurate barometer of how fast I was moving. It sure felt speedy though. (Note to self, buy a GPS watch.)
So when I hit the first hill of doom, I was gasping and panting and not at all willing to kill myself by running a steep incline. So I walked with some sadness. I was keen to improve my 5K time on this run; I figure if I can manage a 10K at a decent pace, a 5 was my chance to really show what I’m made of.
Clearly, what I’m made of doesn’t do hills. This will not come as a shock to anyone. But I have discovered that for me to do really well, the following conditions have to be present: flat course; cool weather; zero headwind. I am not a high-maintenance person, but I am apparently a high-maintenance runner.
The second hilly nemesis loomed just before the finish. And although we were rewarded with an amazing downhill stretch into the town and across the finish line, the hills had wreaked their havoc. Luckily there was beer on hand as a reward. Well earned, I say.
My difficulties were trifling compared to those of the half-marathoners. Hubby reported that the course was one of the most challenging he had run, with ups and downs ad nauseam over the full 13.1 miles, and a decent headwind thrown in for good measure as they ran along the water. I’m so very, very glad I’m not at the half stage yet.
Fifteen runs down, 37 to go. It’s a long, forbidding road ahead.
The event: Great Bay Half Marathon and Beyond the Rainbow 5K
The location: Newmarket, NH
The date: April 7, 2012
My time: 32.16 (pace: 10.23)
Hubby’s time: 1.40.09 (pace: 7.38)
The cause: Exeter Hospital’s Beyond the Rainbow Fund
The T-shirt: Cotton baby-doll shirt with rainbow logo
The aftermath: Bananas, pizza, Larabars, Smuttynose beer