Yesterday, I shared the Fun Run portion of the Dailey’s 5K Stadium Challenge. You can check out the recap here.
Now, on to the rest of the evening.
As we were waiting for little man and J, I started to get anxious. Really anxious. It was hot and I was definitely feeling it, even just standing there. When the announcer called for the next wave (the walk/run participants), I started to think maybe I should just go ahead and join that group and get it over with. I knew I would be walking parts of this race anyway, why not do it with like minded people?
But then I would miss little man coming over the finish line, and you know, mommy guilt and all that. So I resisted the urge.
Once little man and J were through their wave, we set up some chairs in the shaded area under the stadium and prepared to wait.
We took some pictures.
And I worked like a madwoman at staying hydrated. I had eaten a rice cake with peanut butter before we left the house, but that was a long time ago and nerves and heat were starting to wreak havoc. I was getting shaky and queasy, so after some watermelon Nuun, I went for a banana and a little Gatorade. When the 7:30 wave set out, I again considered tagging along, but the sun was still a deterrent, and I tried to tell myself that one more hour would be ok.
As we waited, Devon, of The Food Bitch Blog, showed up. She hung out with us a bit and we chatted about football and we took more pictures.
In fairness, there was a band set up on the stage across from the stadium and there were some huge inflatables for the kids to play in, but no one wanted to go out in the sun if we didn’t have to, so we just stayed put.
And then, finally, it was 8:20 and time to line up. We grabbed iPods and phones, straightened shoelaces, hit the bathroom one last time and got little man and J set up with a spot at the finish line.
The sky was gorgeous.
An announcer outlined the course, although we couldn’t really hear him, and decided we would go with the plan of “follow the herd and hope for volunteers along the way.”
One last picture before we headed out.
The gun sounded and we were off. There weren’t a lot of runners, but it was crowded, and I felt really boxed in. As a result, Devon and I started way faster than either of us expected or wanted. I think we were looking at about an 8:30, which was absolutely unsustainable for me. We were running on grass and trying to get out of the crush of runners, while slowing down. It was part exciting and part aggravating.
We finally made it back to some pavement, when I got hit with a ripping cramp under my rib cage and across my abdomen. I’ve never had one anything like it and it literally took my breath away. I tried to stretch through it, but I couldn’t shake it, and so I told Devon I would catch up and kept trying to work it out.* I was so upset and embarrassed. I knew I was going to have to walk some of this race, but I didn’t intend for it to happen before the one mile mark.
The course took us around the outside of Everbank Field, down through the parking lot to one of the outlying streets for an out and back, and then back through the parking lot towards the stadium and the ramps. Once I got the pain to ease off a little, I was able to run again and made it to the first set of ramps.
Here is where my bridge training came in handy. I was able to get up the first six ramps to the top of the stadium, pretty much running the whole thing. It was a mighty effort, and it was so nice to hear the volunteer stationed at the top concourse say “Welcome to the top of the world!” The views were fantastic.
Once I was up, I set my stopwatch to intervals for the duration of the race. I figured at this point, with the exception of the upcoming downhills, this would be the best way to get me through the finish line.
After the six ramps up, we traveled down the concourse a little ways, where I caught up with Mr PugRunner. We were side by side for a bit and then I lost him as I headed down three ramps. We continued around the stadium, before going back up the three ramps to the top on the opposite side, and then down six to the ground. I took my time on the downhills. They were steep and it would have been very easy to trip or lose my footing, and the last thing I needed was an injury.
I had only see one mileage sign along the way (mile #1), but I knew we had to be close. We followed the walkway around a little bit more and then we were on the football field, under the stadium lights. It took me the the length of the field to figure out if I wanted to be on the grass or on the gravel next to the field.
Horrifyingly, as I got to the first corner, I felt the same pang of nausea that I got in my first race. I had been very careful this race, not taking anything to drink at the water stops, and making sure there was something, but not too much something, in my tummy. I told myself I was absolutely NOT going to have a repeat of Memorial Day’s embarrassment. Not only was I in plain sight of three photographers, the finish line was a narrow chute, with absolutely nowhere to go once I got out. I dug in and plastered a smile on my face.
I was going to finish without incident, no matter what.
Before I knew it, I was around that last corner and heading for the finish line.
Mr PugRunner was just a few seconds behind me, finishing to cheers from his biggest fan.
The family that runs together, smiles post-race together.
I crossed the line at 38:08. About five minutes slower than my first race. But considering that I am not even six weeks post-surgery, I’m ok with it. My goal was to come in under 40 minutes, and I did. I have room for improvement and I know where I can make adjustments:
1. Get my anxiety under control. I am not good at waiting. If we need to be at a race early, I need to figure out how to bring a book or something to keep my mind off of what is going on. I am awful at things like yoga or meditating, so I’m going to need some kind of alternate distraction.
2. Don’t get caught up in the opening rush. I was happy with my physical start position, pretty much right in the middle, but I need to slow down. There is just no way that I can keep up that kind of pace, especially now, and it’s no good tanking early.
3. For a night race, I need to take a nap. We get up early in the morning, and after a full day, that 8:30 start time was just too late. This is something I’m definitely going to have to keep in mind for Tower of Terror, with its 10:00 PM start.
4. Try to train on different terrains. We went from pavement to grass to gravel to turf. It was a bit of a shock to my legs, because I am really used to running on asphalt. I’m not entirely sure where to find trails around here, but it would be beneficial to do some runs on other surfaces.
All in all, it was a good night. I enjoyed the race, although I wish some elements had been a little more streamlined. The venue was great, the volunteers were wonderful and encouraging. There was some nice entertainment for spectators and runners who were waiting for their wave to start. Most of all, I’m glad I was able to get back out there, no matter how discouraged I’ve felt.
How do you handle night races?
How do you manage the seemingly endless time waiting around for a start time if you need to be at a race early?
*PS. About that cramp? Well, considering that I am still sore in that area today, it seems like I actually pulled or strained something. While it wasn’t a welcome event, it makes me feel a lot better about that particular challenge.