July 4th…Independence Day…a day when people head to the lake, picnic, shoot off fireworks, and sit back and relax and enjoy the holiday. We decided to be a bit different this year…and little did I know that our choice almost resulted in my murder by my Hubby.
Let me back up.
This year, we signed up for a local 5k in our area, the Stars and Stripes. This is the 3rd year of the event, and it's growing by leaps and bounds…
The race had a start time of 7:30 am, and so Hubby and I were up and dressed and in the car by 6:30 am.
ON A HOLIDAY.
This is when you KNOW you are crazy.
En route, we're drinking our go-go juice (which is Accelerade protein-powered sports drink for enquiring minds), and eating our protein bars (which are Kind Gluten-Free, with chocolate - YUM!), and making small talk, which is what we tend to do before running a race.
"What do you know about the course?" Hubby asks.
Shrugging, I reply, "Mmmm…I dunno'. I looked at the map - it looks pretty flat, for the most part. I mean, it's in a PARKING LOT, so how hilly can it be??"
Those words would come back to bite me.
Arriving at the event, I stick to my pre-race routine by going in search of the port-a-potties…and can't find them ANYWHERE. I looked here…I looked there…and was starting to break out in a pre-race sweat and panic attack. Hey - my bladder is now 52 years old and is pretty much the size of a pea…so a visit to the POP (short for port-a-potty) is not just a convenience - it is MANDATORY before a race. Especially after drinking 12 ounces of Accelerade.
Houston, we may have a problem.
About the time I was ready to give up and go find the nearest Starbucks, I spotted the POPS way, way off in the distance. Oh, thank you, Jesus, as I was now at my breaking point. They were so far removed from everything that apparently, none of the OTHER runners had spotted them either, as there was no line.
Did you hear that, other runners??!!
NO LINE. (Don't be jealous)
This is unheard of at races, as normally the line in front of the POPS are miles deep. Apparently, repeated running makes EVERY runner's bladder about the size of a pea…who knew??!!
After taking care of business, Hubby and I meandered back to the start of the race, along with about 1,000 other runners. About this time, the photographer came and asked for a photo. My gut reaction was to initially say, "Hell, no!" as I don't exactly look my best after rolling out of bed at 5:45 am…but then I remembered that I was looking pretty fashionable in my patriotic top, and had dark sunglasses on to hide the bags under my eyes, and was wearing a hat to hide my serious bed head, so we obliged:
It was soon time to begin the race. Kissing Hubby good-bye, and sending him off to join the other Kenyans at the front of the Starting Line, I made my way back to the Back of the Pack, where the Turtles like to hang out. Within minutes, the gun sounded - and we were OFF!
After carefully navigating my way through a very narrow opening chute, there was a sharp right turn…and the pavement was soaking wet, with runoff from the morning's sprinkler heads…and I had to slow down a bit so that I didn't do a Slip 'n Slide. Hubby told me later that he saw a runner or two slip and go down HARD on the pavement when they hit that water…NOT a good way to start off a race. Yikes.
The course seemed to be relatively flat…at first…but then I noticed that it was deceiving. There were indeed hills on this course. And the hills were very, very long….and drawn out…and went on FOREVER.
Up, up, up we went…and more and more runners were slowing down and eventually resorting to just walking…which is pretty normal with us Turtles (Kenyans would NEVER walk during a 5k). Fortunately, I have lots and lots of hills by my house, so I'm pretty used to elevation - although I don't consider myself a Hill Master. Yet. So I plodded along…albeit slowly…but I was moving.
About the time that I was cursing the Hill Gods, I had reached mile #2, where the course seemed to start going downhill. A bit. A tiny, tiny bit - but it was a godsend. A very enthusiastic volunteer stood along the sidelines, cheering us on with a very peppy, "You can DO IT!!!! IT'S ALL DOWNHILL FROM HERE, GUYS!!!!"
Oh, be still my heart. That was music to my ears.
However, I quickly realized that the very enthusiastic volunteer was also very seriously crazy, because it was NOT all "downhill from here." At about the 2.5 mile mark, it started going back up…and up…and up some more.
GOOD GOD, WILL THESE HILLS NEVER END??!!
And then another thought…oh crap. Hubby is going to KILL me, since I told him the course was flat.
At this point, since I felt like I'd been climbing Mount Everest all morning, I told myself I would be very happy if I came in at 39 minutes…which is never going to win a medal, but since I've just really started running in the last three months, is a decent, respectable time for a Middle Aged Drama Queen Turtle. I could always blame the hills for my slower time, right?
At the 3-mile marker, there was a sharp left turn, which then led to the strait away to the finish line. As I turned the corner, I was slowing down quite a bit, and thought I would just do a slow and steady pace for the last few yards…and then I happened to look up and see the giant time clock ahead.
And it was at 37.35…and counting.
HOLY KENYAN, BATMAN!!!
If I gunned it - I could come in WAY UNDER 39 minutes!!!
I turned on my invisible jet propulsion thingies on my feet, and I gunned it with every thing that I had.
And I did it!!!!!!!
My chip time was 37.04. Woot woot!
Not bad for a Turtle. A Middle Aged Turtle, at that.
You can see the joy on my face as I cross the finish line:
As far as Hubby's race, gah. I hate him.
He came in 2nd overall in his age group:
Here he is crossing the finish line:
After the race, I posed proudly with my bling:
As Hubby and I were heading home, we were analyzing and dissecting the race, each eager to share with the other how we'd done, and what we'd struggled with, and how we could have improved. And then, sure enough, here it came. Hubby looks at me, eyes narrowing, and says accusingly,
"Hey! You told me the course was flat…WHAT THE HECK??!!!"
I shrugged, and casually said, "Mmmm…I dunno'. I just didn't want to freak you out beforehand."
Yup. We'll just leave it at that.