This morning I joined a bunch of fast runners and friends for the Shriners’ Summer Solstice 8k Run. I missed it last year for family reasons and was super excited to try the 8k distance (this time without hills and rain), see my running peeps and race my butt off. This run is part of the local run series I’m doing but also a part of the USA Track and Field PA series. Which means… tons of fast runners. A bunch of the serious run clubs from the bay area and beyond come up for it which makes the 8k a really great time. I woke up nice and early, downed some oatmeal and coffee (hello power breakfast!) and took my time getting ready. I arrived at the race site about an hour early which was perfect. I kept reminding myself that my goal was to be aggressive but mostly to have fun.
Normally at a race I’m one of just a few people who actually warm up, do strides, etc but that was absolutely not the case this morning! The race course was PACKED with uniformed speedies doing their thing. In fact, I was a little intimidated on my warm up. But, whatever. We lined up, an aztec dance troupe did a solstice dance (okkkkk), we heard the national anthem, and then gun went off!
One of the benefits of all the speedy runners is that there were a ton of runners running at or about my pace. Normally there are a fair amount, but it was really encouraging to see tons of women around me running my pace. I fell into my race pace pretty easily and found a group of women from a bay area club to run with (hang on to more like). I came through the first mile in 7:10 which was… aggressive. I knew I wasn’t prepared to run that fast so I really eased up in my second mile to a 7:45ish pace which felt great. I was working, but not dying. During mile 2-3 we ran down this really beautiful, wide street as an out and back and it was so fun seeing the leaders and back of the pack on the way up and back. I love seeing the leaders but I also love seeing the back where people are having a great time or maybe even running their first race. I love it.
During the race I really focused on staying strong, not giving up mentally and on picking off runners. In fact, this was the first race in quite awhile that I actually felt like I was racing and not just dying. The entire race I passed other runners and felt like I was keeping my pace consistent. I just kept talking to myself and giving mental cues (oh they’re embarassing… I tell myself things like, “you’re a kung fu panda!” or “Go Bruins!” or “fire it up!” whatever, it works). I started feeling a little nauseated and cold (no idea why I felt cold) around mile 4 but I reminded myself that one last mile and I’d be done!
I rounded the corner and saw the 1/2 mile to go sign and spotted this girl that runs with my running group sometimes. Now, this chick, for whatever reason, really bothers me. She never runs with anyone else, never waits for the group and just has an air like, “oh I’m so fast, you little slow people.” She was about 100-150 yards ahead of me and I decided that even if it killed me that I was going to pass her ass. So, I gritted my teeth (I’m sure the photos are going to be lovely) sprinted like a mad woman and caught her about 100 yards from the finish! I put my head down and beat her! Petty? Maybe.
My final time was 38:50 per my watch but 39:04 per official race time (no chipped start, only end) so I’m going with 38:50. That was good enough for 8th in my age group which I am actually really proud of given the stiff competition and my lack of focused speed work lately. Mostly though, I’m proud of the way I raced. I actually raced this race. I had a strategy, I carried it out, didn’t give up or panic or have any negative talk during the run and you know what? I had fun! I usually have a “ugh this sucks” moment during every race but this morning I loved every moment of my race.
I’m going to try and get a long run in tomorrow but I have the feeling that my legs are going to be pretty heavy. I put in about 9 miles between warm up, race and cool down this morning and I plan to actually have fun tonight so I may play my long run by ear 🙂 Overall, a fabulous morning with wonderful friends and a great race.