Even though I ran this race on July 30th I thought that it would be appropriate to do a summary of my experience.
I really wasn't so sure about this race from the beginning. I started my 10K training (Bridge 2 10K) the week after I got back from vacation in June. I was 2 weeks into the training when I ran my 5K as part of my completion of the Couch 2 5K program. I looked around for races that would coincide with my completion of the Bridge 2 10K program and this was the only one that I could find that fit my schedule.
The race is sponsored by the Maysville (KY) Recreation Commission and takes place as part of a large festival in the City of Maysville. The 10K is just one of three events they offer. There was also a 5K and a 20 mile bike ride.
Maysville is only a little over an hour away from Lexington and to be honest I didn't know if I wanted to get up that early to drive to the race. I also knew that I was going to have my kids that weekend and I really didn't want to take time away from being with them. Finally, the race was billed as 5K on road and 5K on a "grass cross-country course". Well I definitely am not a CC runner so I was a little concerned about the race. My wife finally convinced me that I needed to "just do it" but I didn't make that decision until the week of the race. It was too late to pre-register at that time so I called the organizer to make sure that I could still run. I spoke with a lady who assured me that I could register at the race. And then I made the mistake. I asked her if the course was hilly. She just laughed and said "yeah". Then I asked her about this "grass cross-country course" hoping she would respond with "oh it's a beautiful, flat course". Of course she only laughed, again, and said "oh yeah it's hilly. You go up and down, back and forth, sideways and maybe even a little upside down." That conversation got me really worried. And I have to admit that I was psyched out by the thoughts of it. Running on hills on the road is one thing but running on hills in the grass struck fear into my heart. Could I make it? Should I do it? I decided to give it a try.
I decided to make the weekend more fun for everyone so I thought it would be nice to go spend the weekend with my parents. They live in Eastern Kentucky about an hour from Maysville. I thought it would be nice because my wife could go with me to the race and the kids could visit with my parents. I love it when a plan comes together.
So we packed everything up on Friday evening and went to my parents' cabin. I love it out there. They live out in the woods close to a lake and it is so peaceful. I always sleep like a baby when I'm there so I thought this would be good race strategy for me too. We got there a little later than I had hoped but still had time to visit. I had packed all of my race fuel, water bottles and belt, and anything else that I could think of that I might need. I was set for a great race.
At about 4:30 am I was awakened by a loud rumble of thunder. I went to pick up my phone to check my Radarscope app and realized that the outlet that I had plugged my phone into didn't work because the wall switch was turned off. My phone was dead. I guess it was a good thing that I heard the thunder because otherwise I would have overslept. I guess that's the trouble with using your phone as your alarm. You're only one dead battery away from a Seinfeld "Jean Paul" episode.
I struggled to get back to sleep but had no luck. So I laid in bed until about 5:30 and then decided to go ahead and get up to get ready. I knew that I needed to eat but I didn't want to eat a big breakfast like I did for my 1st 5K. So I had a piece of toast with natural peanut butter and a banana. I also decided to skip the latte. Especially since my Saturday morning run the week before had been so tough and my heart rate had elevated into the 160's. I did not want a repeat of that situation.
I then got my running stuff on and my wife and I took off to Maysville. We left at about 6:30 and got to Maysville around 7:30. We stopped at the local Hardee's so I could use the restroom and then we headed to the race site. I didn't know what type of facilities would be available at the course and the last thing that I wanted to have happen was a "Code Brown" about 3 1/2 miles into the race.
When we arrived I looked at the grass course and instantly felt nervous about the race. I had no worries about the road portion but the grass cross country course still struck fear into my heart. But I was here and I was ready.
The first thing that I noticed was that there was not a lot of people. I estimate that there was only about 40-50 people there. It looked like half of them were little kids. I knew that I'd have to trip a lot of those little buggers to keep them from beating me. It was an interesting mix of people. Young, old, men, women, children, fit and not-so-fit. I knew that I would just need to run my race at my pace and I would be ok. It was a beautiful morning as the sun was just coming up. It was pretty humid but wasn't too hot yet. That would change later.
The starter sounded the horn and like a laser beam I was off. Ok. Not a laser beam. More like a slow moving water buffalo, but I was off, nonetheless. I was a little tight in my legs but I was so happy to see that the first portion was downhill. The faster runners (all the little kids) took off and were out of sight pretty quickly. I was hanging out in the back of the small pack and was with the fast walkers. I was ok with that. And then I heard my Cyclemeter app tell me that my pace was in the 11 minute range. I knew that was too fast for me, but I couldn't stand the thought of being outpaced by walkers. So I kept going.
After the initial downhill, we started a long, slow uphill. I slowed my pace and managed to lose the walkers up the hill. I actually passed a runner. Now he was about 80 years old, but I still passed him. I felt great even though my pace was faster than normal. But that is what a race is all about, right?
I topped the hill and leveled out at about the 0.75 mile mark I could see a turn around in the distance. I thought to myself that it looked to be about 1/2 a mile away. And then it happened. I looked to my left and saw this little girl, probably about 7 years old, just bouncing and smiling. her little feet and legs just kicking away with little to no effort, running TOWARD me. She had already reached the turnaround and was already coming back at me. I couldn't believe it. That truly was disheartening. But I kept on and reached the turnaround. I didn't grab any water because I had the enormo-bottle strapped to me in my stylish hip pack.
After the turnaround I was pretty much running by myself. I had my favorite playlist blasting in my ears and I was running my own race. At about 30 minutes I grabbed a couple of my GU Pomegranate Blueberry Chomps for a quick energy boost and some water. I also had a small fuel bottle filled with concentrated Gatorade to keep me going.
As I approached the 3 mile mark I noticed the people directing me to the grass. For a brief moment I thought "oh no, you gave me the wrong colored number. I'm actually only doing the 5K". But I grabbed a water and hit the cross country portion. "This is easy" I thought. Yeah. It was downhill. The course was just the side of a hill that had a 5-6 foot wide path mowed in it. It's like someone went to Farmer Brown and said "Hey we'd like to run in your field. Do you mind?" After I made it to the bottom of the hill I noticed that there were members of the high school cross country team out directing me where to go. Then I realized that I would have to climb the hill. But not a straight climb. Oh no. But a long back and forth as I gradually worked my way up the hill. I felt like I was in the Tour de France on the Alpes d'Huez only I had no bicycle. I remember thinking to myself "will this ever end?" The sun was really coming up at this point and it was getting hotter and I was starting to feel the effects of the heat and humidity. My pace had slowed to about 15 minutes per mile. My brand new Brooks Beasts were soaked from the morning dew on the grass and were covered in fresh cut field grass, which was really more like straw.
After I topped the hill I thought that it had to get easier. And it did. I ended up being directed into the woods. It was shady and downhill. That felt great. I was a little nervous about running on the muddy surface. I figured with my luck I'd fall, roll over the hillside, and into the pond, and never be heard from again. But I made it out of the woods and began the last 1.5 miles of the course.
I ran past a tranquil looking pond that smelled like dead fish and immediately began my ascent up another hill. And then I could see two other runners in front of me. I thought for sure that I could catch them. Then I realized that this filed also contained numerous back and forths and they were too far ahead of me. Then it hit me. I was DEAD LAST. I tried to stay focused on getting through the race though but that terrible thought kept coming back to me. I hit 5 miles and truly wanted to stop. I had never run more than 60 minutes straight and at 5 miles and about 1:07 hours in I was spent. I drank some water, had a few more Chomps, and began to wonder how long it would take someone to find me if I just sat down. And then I wondered if I twisted my ankle how would the little cross country girls carry me out. I figured they'd have to chopper me out. It's funny all of the crazy stuff your mind starts thinking of when you're hot and exhausted.
I made it back across the pond and saw two of the adult volunteers standing on the other side. One of the guys told me that I had about 1/2 a mile to go. As I passed him he started running with me. He was the cross country coach at Mason County High School. I told him that he didn't have to run with me but he said he'd like to. So we ran. And I will tell you that I'm glad that he did because I would not have made it otherwise. That was an awesome Random Act of Kindness that he did for me.
As we neared the finish line I was shocked. There was still about 30 people waiting there all cheering for me. Yes I was last, but I had done it. I wanted to go really fast but I was absolutely spent. I dragged myself across the finish line and saw my wife waiting for me. I was so happy to see her and know that it was all over.
After the race I went straight to the car. I was so exhausted and hot. I dumped a bottle of water on my head and a I sat on the trunk of the car. I was so tired that I had to put my arms on my knees but when I did I couldn't breathe deep enough and I started getting dizzy. I really thought that I was gonna go down. I ended up sitting down by the rear tire of the car in the shade and leaned back up against the tire. I poured more water on my head and could breathe much easier in that position. I started to cool down and started to feel better. I grabbed my post race banana and my chocolate milk that I had in the cooler (my perfect recovery snack) and changed clothes in the car. I then walked back over to the awards and cheered for all of those who won their divisions. I asked them if there was a last place finishers award and that got a big laugh from everyone. (I later realized that the reason everyone was still there cheering me on was because they couldn't do the awards until I finished-ha!)
I'm happy that I successfully completed the race. It was my first 10K ever. Would I do it again? Not this particular race, but yes I will do another 10K at some point. But for now, the half marathon training is underway and I can't wait to conquer the Iron Horse on Oct. 23rd.
Thanks for reading and remember: Dream Big but take small steps!