For those of you that may not be familiar with it, 5am is damn early.
Real. Damn. Early.
Regardless of this fact, that is what time I got up on my birthday to go run a race. Start time for the Columbus 1/2 Marathon and 10k was 7am. The Hubby had decided that it would be nice to take the dogs with us, since there was a dog park near the starting area, so it was going to take just a little bit longer to get everything (and everyone) together.
By the time we gathered the dogs’ accessories (leashes, poo-bags, treats), gathered all my accessories (bib, chip-tag, camera, video camera, phone, water bottle), we headed out into the wee hours of the morning and arrived to Three Creeks Metro Park with about 20 minutes to spare. Hubby worked on getting the dogs together while I got my chip-tag on my shoe. That’s about as far as I got, as both dogs together are just a little more than Hubby can handle on his own first thing in the morning. So I grabbed Yeager, our older Great Dane (read: the well behaved one) and let Hubby try to get Annie under control. That lasted for all of 2 minutes before I offered to switch. He promptly accepted. The thing with Annie is that she is still young (only a year and a bit) and she is still learning her leash manners. The previous weekend walk helped a lot, and she remembered quite a bit of the lessons we went over (No, you will not yank my arm out of the socket). But fresh out of the car, with a ton of people walking past her, it was just too much for her to take. So she got to do a warmup jog with me out and back through the parking lot. She was still jazzed up, but paying a little more attention, and by this time, I was down to about 10 minutes until start, and had to walk across a large field yet. So I kept Annie, Hubby took Yeager, and we all made out way over to the start. We got as close as we could before there was just too many people around. I try to remember that not everyone likes dogs, and there may have been people that feel that bringing dogs to an event like this is inappropriate.
After getting them both settled down, I finally handed the leash over to Hubby so I could finally get by bib on, make sure my sansa is ready to go, get my phone shoved into my water bottle pouch. I left Hubby with the reminder that I would probably be finishing around 1:30, similar to the Redlegs Run, so not to get too distracted at the dog area because I would like to have some pictures from this one. You know, it being my birthday and all. I even brought the video camera and the tripod along, so all he would have to do is set it up, point it in the right direction, and keep the dogs from knocking it over. Right.
Did I mention that I also wore my favorite running shirt? You know, it being my birthday and all.
The only thing that starting that early has going for it is that the temperature was great. Not hot, nice breeze coming through. The placement of water stops was also great, one at around 1.5miles, and the other at the turnaround point for the 10k-ers. And since it was an out-and-back course, you passed each one twice. I walked through and drank all 4 times, and still totally drained my own bottle before I was done, but it wasn’t too bad.
There were also a number of other runners that would smile at me and wave or nod encouragement. It was early, and I was a little slow (mentally as well as physically). The first couple of times, I thought “wow, these people are really friendly, and so encouraging to someone who is obviously a newbie.”
And then I remembered that I was wearing my Awesome Shirt. Everybody loves the Awesome Shirt.
But back to the race: I was feeling really good. I only needed to periodically stop to catch my breath, mostly only stopped to get a drink of water (not really coordinated with that whole Drink-and-Keep-Running at the same time just yet), and my legs still felt fine, no cramps, tiring, nothing. I started thinking to myself, “There were still people around me that were continuing on to the 1/2. People that are still just as slow as me. Maybe I could run a 1/2 after all. Maybe I have built more endurance than I thought I had.”
These thoughts lasted a little past the 4 mile marker. Right about then my body chimed in with all the reasons that I decided to put off doing a 1/2 until I had trained better.
Calf muscles started cramping up. Tight painful strain started down my left inner thigh. The dehydration headache started kicking in. Breathing suddenly got harder. Side stitch reminding me to try to breathe deeper.
All the responses of a body reaching its limit of tolerance. And I still had a mile and a half to go. It was also around this time that the 1/2 Marathoners started passing me in large groups. There had been a couple that already flew past, but now they were coming by much more frequently. That didn’t help me feel any better about losing steam, and it took a lot of effort to remember that they were running their race, and I was desperately trying to run mine. On my birthday. (Really, who does that?)
I finally got to the final stretch, came over the last bridge (that whole Three Creeks thing), and headed towards the finish. Normally I will try to pick my pace up in the name of finishing strong. But I was already struggling so much, that I just tried to keep my pace as it was. I wouldn’t sprint in, but I would still be running. Since I was being (relatively) leisurely about it, I started looking around for Hubby and the kids. I spotted Yeager first (benefit of being a Great Dane-you get noticed. A lot), and then noticed that Annie was bouncing around like a kangaroo, and Hubby was bent over trying to grab her and facing away from me. Uh Oh. Looking like no finish picture again. I kept watching him as I got closer and closer to the finish line, and about 15 feet away from the arch, he spins around frantically looking for me, sees that I am about to finish, and is fighting to find the camera. That is still in the bag. Still in it’s case. Tangled in dog accessories. When I’m about 4 steps away, he throws his hands up in defeat. No finish pictures again.
Come to find out, Annie apparently managed to slip out of her collar just as Hubby had spotted me coming over the bridge and was trying to get the camera out. The camera search had to be abandoned to keep Annie from bolting into the crowd trying to make new friends.
All in all, it was a good run. I could have finished a bit stronger, but the fact that I was out there at all, at the ass-crack of dawn, running a 10k on my birthday, has to count for something.
All in all, the best birthday present I could probably give myself.
Except maybe wireless headphones…