Saturday, June 26, 2010

Run Around Hell

Actually, it was called the Run Around the Lake. We try to do this race every year. It's a challenging 4 miler. It's never a completely flat race. You are either running up a hill/incline or down an incline. There are no real downhills here. Each year I think "this is the year I will conquer the hill at mile 3" and each year that hill owns me.

So this morning the Wingman and I got up early and had breakfast. Last night my GI system was 'upset' so I made sure (at least I thought I made sure) that I had enough water this morning prior to the race. I didn't want to go into the race in the heat already dehydrated. I brought along a 20oz bottle of water to drink. I probably should have made it a bottle of Infinit. We got to the race and picked up our packets. The last few years they had a nice technical shirt in the bag. This year they went back to the cotton shirts that are the most hideous colors known to man. I joked before we got there about hoping to get a nice bright orange shirt this year. Well, when I looked in the bag, I wasn't far off the mark. It was a yellow-orange color. They must get a discount on the shirts if they pick ugly colors.

The only other thing in the race bag (besides the flyers) was a small box of Wheaties Fuel. We dropped the stuff back off in the car and watched the start of the kids 1 mile fun run. After that we began the walk to the start of the race. We hung out in the shade and I was still optimistic about my race. The last two weeks my workouts have been really good. I can feel my speed improving and I owe it all to the negative energy generated by my clinical affiliation. Every time I have a bad day, I have a great run. So Friday started out good and ended kinda bad. And when I say it ended bad, it's not that I screwed up with a patient, but according to my CI, I didn't do things exactly the way he would have done it and he let's me know about it. I take in his comments, filter them, and extract the information that is useful to me and chuck out the rest. So this morning I tried to relive that conversation in my head.

When the horn sounded I got stuck in some human traffic. I decided instead of burning some extra energy weaving in and out, I would just wait until the road widens a little bit and then get some room. About half a mile into the race is the first hill. I eased up a little to save some energy for the other hill later. Also, this is the last section of any kind of shade. The rest of the run from mile 1 to the end is out in the sun. When I cruised past the mile 1 marker, I looked at my watch. I was right on pace. At this point I was actually thinking I could hold it. I also started to notice I was soaked. I was sweating heavily today. And I have just begun to run in the sun.

At this point I am out on Portion Road heading towards the now defunct Bavarian Inn. I am still feeling decent, but the heat is wearing me down. I am drenched and in desperate need of water. Another aid station won't be coming up for another mile. I tried to hang in there, but I suddenly started feeling lightheaded. I eased off the pace and it still didn't help. I noticed that I was no longer running a straight line. The wobble run had begun. I decided to walk for a minute just to collect myself and let my heart rate come down. When I started running again, I noticed on the median the sprinklers were on. And I wasn't wearing a white shirt. BONUS!! No wet t-shirt contest for me. I ran up onto the grass and through 8 sprinklers. I felt like I was 4 years old again. What a wonderful feeling. Problem was it was short lived. Once I was back out on the road, I was suffering again. I hit the aid station near the drug rehab facility. For some reason, they always have the best water on the course. The other 2 stations have hose water, but the addicts have some good water. Plus it was very cold. I don't know what their secret is and I don't want to know. I just had to hope that the USADA would not be at the finish line. I grabbed two cups and drank them both. I got to the mile 3 marker and started feeling better. Problem was, my nemesis hill was looming. It's not a big hill, but one of those slow inclines that wears you down, beats you into submission.

The hill had me early. I felt like I was dying out there. Some guy ran by, looked back at me and said "Come on." I did my best to follow, but my legs were having none of it. All I kept thinking was "every year this race gets hotter and the hills get bigger." When the top of the incline came along I started to pick up my pace. I knew there was about half a mile to go. I wanted to salvage something out of this race. If I could finish strong, it would make up for the 1.5 miles of hell that I just went through. 

Then, a great song came on and the beat was perfect for me.

I was able to run to the beat and accomplish my goal of a strong finish. I was able to escape the clutches of hell. I crossed the finish line and went straight for the water area. I reached into the bucket and grabbed a bottle of water. Then I went back in for some ice. I put a few big cubes in my hat and on my neck and was feeling much better. I downed my bottle quickly and went back for another for the Wingman. There were none left. Uh oh. I ran back to the car and grabbed his bottle and then ran back to the buckets with ice, grabbed a few cubes, put them in his bottle and shook it. I saw him coming down the finish chute and handed him the bottle. He downed it in no time. We swapped race stories as we made our way over to the BBQ area. This is something they started last year and decided to continue it. If you are registered for the race, you are entitled to the BBQ. We were one of the first ones on line as Wingman said he was hungry. They had cole slaw, potato salad, macaroni salad, hamburgers, hot dogs and a bunch of sodas. It was only 10am, but that burger was good. 

While I didn't have the race I wanted, at least I got myself to finish strong. I'm not a good hot weather runner no matter how much I try to get used to it. But next race in the heat, I will be sure to choose a different prerace drink. On the ride home I told the Wingman that perhaps we should decide at the last minute next year if we should do this race again so we could see what the weather would look like. But he said we should just do the race anyway, no matter what the weather is. So, let's cross our fingers for a cool day next year.

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