Last year was my first go at Tour De Pain (day 1 & day 2). When I completed the last mile of the three race series, I was pretty adamant that I could take it or leave it the next time it popped up on the calendar.
And then it did pop up on the calendar and I decided I couldn’t leave it.
Tour De Pain is three races in less than 24 hours: a four mile beach run on Friday night, a 5K road race on Saturday morning and a one mile sizzler on Saturday afternoon. The distances are certainly reasonable, but combined, it creates quite a challenge.
Since this race was scheduled for the last weekend before school started, a lot of my running friends weren’t able to make it. It was a bummer, but I was ok heading out on my own. I honestly didn’t have any goals or expectations heading in. I’ve been training hard this summer, but my attention has turned to my long runs and my focus was my endurance, not my speed.
I picked up my packet with my bib and timing chip. I would need to use the same one for all three races, and I always worry about forgetting to change them with my shirts and shoes.
I just promised myself I would double check every time I left the house.
In addition, I agonized over which shoes to wear to each race. My plantar fasciitis hadn’t been cooperating and I wanted to make sure to switch off my shoes and have them work with the different terrains and speeds. Decisions, decisions.
On Friday afternoon, we all went to the movies. It was a great way for me to unwind and rest, even if the movie left much to be desired. When we left the theater, the heavens opened and we were hit by an awful storm. It was a torrential downpour, with huge strikes of lightning and major gusts of wind. Not promising at all.
Mr PugRunner asked if I was still going to go. There was nothing I wanted to do less than drive all the way to Jacksonville Beach in a storm and run in the rain, but the doppler showed that things would clear up, so I really had to go for it.
I made it to the beach in great time, and scored a nice parking spot a few blocks away from the pier and the start line. The walk was good for me to calm my nerves, and I made my way directly to the bathroom line before crossing over to the sand.
The good thing about the rain was that the sky was still heavy with clouds, and there was a bit of a wind that had kicked up. Ok, the wind wasn’t a great thing, but it was way better than blazing sun and heavy air. I was pleased and felt ready to stretch out my legs.
I milled about with the other runners, adjusting my laces and just enjoying the view.
When it was time to line up, I made my way closer to the water line. There was a wide swatch of packed sand, but I wanted to stay on ground as level as possible for as long as possible.
The four mile race was gun-timed, so I also maneuvered myself as close to the start line as felt comfortable. It’s not my favorite way to race, but I could only do my best.
You know how sometimes, everything just clicks? Well that night was one of those times. With the exception of the wind, conditions were as close to perfect as one could hope for. In the middle of August. On the beach.
The course was a pretty standard out and back: two miles down the beach and two miles back, with two water stops. I headed out at my standard intervals and felt great. I pushed along consistently and kept my head down to help stave off the worst of the winds.
After the turnaround, I tucked in behind some other runners and focused on little landmarks along the beach. As I got closer and closer to the clock, I realized that I was well on track for my fastest four mile race and kicked up as much as I could.
The end result? A five minute PR! On the beach! Whoo hoo!
I had had no expectations whatsoever about this night, and I totally surprised myself! My entire outlook for the rest of the weekend changed from “overcoming a challenge” to “kicking butt and taking names.”
Mr PugRunner had picked up Chinese food for himself and little man, and had been kind enough to get some for me to eat when I got home, so I started to head in the direction of the car.
But not before snagging a cup of watermelon ice from the Rita’s tent. Yum.
Awesome night! One race down, two to go!
How do you feel about racing on the sand?
What’s your favorite terrain and distance?