My main goal this year is to remain healthy. This goal is something that I have been carrying with me for every run and every race.
I have had to accept the reality that I am not as fast as I once was a few years ago. I’m not producing times that I find are acceptable to my standards but one thing is still remaining the same; I’m staying healthy.
This past weekend I ran a race on a rail trail from Newville PA, to Shippensburg PA. The race was a 15k (9.3 miles). It was an unusual time for a race as it started at 1pm. I ran this course once as practice to get an idea of difficulty. When you think of a rail trail you think flat, easy, smooth. Well from where we started it was a gradual incline all the way to the finish.
Personally I thought it was a tough course because of the incline. The weather was about 60 degrees give or take a degree. When the race was underway I knew what I was about to go through. I started slower not worrying about my placement. The first 3 miles are the easiest because it is mostly flat with a tiny decline after mile 2. I felt good, comfortable, cool and focused. I found myself in 8th overall, and I was slowing catching a few runners. By the first mile I moved into 5th place, I was feeling good and the there was a little breeze to help cool my down.
As I approached the 1st water station I knew I had to take advantage of them I grabbed some water without stopping took a few sips and dumped the rest on my head. I saw 4th place within catching distance and I tossed the idea I trying to catch him back and forth. I thought he is too far, then it seemed like I was catching him.
The course was straight and you could see really far ahead. I was able to constantly see 4th place and I dared not to look back. Despite being able to see really far ahead, you could also see how the course began to climb. By the 2nd water station I was about 8 seconds 4th place. The water station was just after the 4 mile marker and at that point 4th place had stopped to drink his water. I was feeling hot and at this point the wind had stopped the sun came out and i was beginning to feel the effect of the humidity. I too stopped at the water station to drink a larger amount of water.
I don’t know if stopping messed up my rhythm but the only reason I stopped was because he stopped. I started running before him was able to run away from him. The second half of the course was the harder half. The course climbed for the next 5 miles. Every time you looked up ahead the course was climbing higher and higher.
Psychologically it placed with my head. I knew around 4.5 to 5 miles I was going to eat a GU packet. around 4.6 miles I heard the sounds of foot steps coming up behind me. I was a little taking back because I didn’t expect someone to catch up to me. I thought I was alone. I was at peace with the pass and I knew this women had more drive than me. We ran together for a little, before I knew I couldn’t and should keep up with her.
The 3rd and final water station came just before the 7 mile marker. I saw this women stop and drink some water and I decided to do the same. I poured one on my head and drank most of the other cup. Honestly, I was tired. at 7 miles I started to tell myself 2 miles 2 miles 2 miles. Over and over. I was really starting to suffer.
Mile 8 I was feeling terrible, I was hot, my mouth was dry, I was fading fast. I looked over my shoulder and no one was behind me. I knew I couldn’t catch the women in front of me, I knew that I had locked 5th place down.
I stopped running.
I had to walk, I finally convinced myself to stop. My mind had won and I felt like I needed to walk for a minute. I glance over my shoulder and off in the distance came 6th place. I started to run again. I didn’t feel any better and i was running really slow. I knew the finish was a slight decline from about the 8.5 mile mark. Once I reached that spot I pushed myself harder. You could see the finish line around half a mile before you get there. I started to push myself faster to the line. My head hurt, my legs were heavy, my mouth was dry. I give everything I had through the line and nailed 5th place overall.
I was first in my age group respectfully, My time was not great but it was good enough. I rang in with 1:06:45. I know i’m better, I know I was better at one time but today this was my best effort. I’m upset that I stopped running but I think it was the right thing to do.
Stay healthy! My number one goal is to Stay healthy.
I know I have a lot of work ahead of me if I want to improve my times and stamina. I’m humbled by this race, I’m thankful for the results and I’m excited to still be running with out any major issues.