On Sunday, August 12, 2007 I ran the Fergus Highland Games 10K. I was rather nervous about this run because I know exactly what my pace is right now, and I knew this would be a relatively small race. I even tried emailing the race coordinator before registering to hopefully calm my fears, but when I received no reply, I decided to bite the bullet and do it anyway.
Before the run started, I asked someone at the registration desk whether the course was well marked or not, and I was assured that it was. I knew I would be far behind everyone else, and I didn't want to get lost. Being a smaller race, it started rather unceremoniously, and the group of runners had surged on ahead of me before I had realized the race had even started. Very quickly, there was a lot of distance between me and all of the other runners. One bonus there - I had no problem starting the race off at my own pace. After a couple of minutes, I tried turning on my iPod. Listening to a podcast or two about running and other outdoor activities helps me think less about what I am doing and makes the time pass by more quickly. Alas, my iPod chose this inopportune time to crash on me, so I had to continue my run, with earplugs in (otherwise they'd flap around too much and make me crazy), carrying my iPod, listening to nothing but nature and vehicles. It wasn't so bad. If I had been listening to a podcast, I might have missed the lady hanging out of her van windows clapping her hands ecstatically for me!
The head of the running pack passed me between the 2K and 3K markers. I knew that after 20 minutes, somebody would be running back past me soon. I only saw a few runners before I made the turn to run the loop in the course before returning on the same road. I told the volunteer there to make sure they didn't pack everything up before I finished, and he told me not to worry, they'd be following me in. Not entirely sure what that meant, but reassured that I wouldn't be forgotten, I continued my run.
I don't really know Fergus at all, and I didn't study the course map very carefully at all. They said it was well-marked! But when I passed the first road, and everything ahead of me just looked like farmland, I started to worry. Did I miss my turn? Why wasn't it marked? They said it was marked! My turn should have been marked! I was starting to get really pissed, and was began planning out my angry email and who I would send it to. After thinking this way for a couple of minutes, reason crept in. I decided that if I had indeed missed my turn, it was ok. I had my Garmin on. I would just continue until I reached 5K, then I would turn around and head back. So of course you know what happened. Before long, I approached another road, and there wasn't a marker there, but instead a volunteer to show me the way.
A portion of this road was gravel. Coarse, sandy, dirty gravel. I have decided that I don't particularly like running on this kind of surface. The gravel had been set down fairly recently, so it was rather soft with lots of ridges to navigate. That was just that section. Most of the rest of the course was on roads that were covered in bumpy patches. That wasn't so pleasant to run on either. For someone who isn't so strong on her feet, I had to pay lots of attention to the condition of my running surfaces.
While I was on this gravel road, I could hear a vehicle behind me. It didn't take me long to figure out that it was the truck the volunteers used to carry around the water station equipment and road pylons. This is what that guy meant when he said they'd be following me in. That's exactly what they did. Along the way they picked up pylons, and stopped to gather up water station supplies and volunteers while I plodded along ahead of them. Once we moved into a subdivision, I found that I had an OPP car in front of me, looking out for the traffic up ahead. The OPP car would move ahead, then stop. Move ahead, then stop. So I had my entourage behind me, and my security up front. hehehe Sweet.
There were a few people along the way to cheer me on. Some in vehicles. One family waited at the end of their drive to add their encouragement. I think even that guy I saw, the first runner back (was he doing his 10K cool down lap???) called out, "Way to go girl! Keep it up!" I made sure to wave and thank them all and let them know that I appreciated their efforts. Then finally, I saw my own small fan club, with about 400m left to go. I saw the red tents of the finish line up ahead of me, and just kept trucking. I had pondered for a while about what I would do when I crossed the finish line, but what did happen just happened naturally. I let out a big WOOOOOHOOOOO! Thanks Taunya, for teaching me that one. My information was taken down, I got hugs and smiles, and my race was done. I finished 1 hour and 41 minutes and change - exactly the time I expected to finish in (except that included my stretching time too, which I usually stop the Garmin for), so I did well.
My sister, Krista, said something to me about not believing the number of cars that were waiting to get onto the road, and I dumbly nodded my head, but didn't really get the full impact of what she said. Later in the afternoon, she sent me some of the pictures she had taken during the race. That is when I saw it. These cars were all lined up behind the truck that was behind me. I was holding up traffic!! I laughed and laughed when I saw what I had done. Awesome! hee hee!
I didn't come home with a medal, but I've got another bib number to add to my collection of my journey to completing a half marathon.
For those who want a little further detail:
My calves cramped, or tightened up on me very early in the run, but they loosened up in the 2nd K. This has become the norm for me in the last couple of months. I knew it would pass. That didn't make it any less bothersome though.
My feet went a little numb, but it never became bad at all. I did my little stretch to help that problem two or three, or maybe four times, and then it went away for the remainder of the run. This also has become the norm as of late.
I never did feel really strong at any point in this run at all, but it never felt really bad either. Some days are just better than others.
I found myself having to work on keeping my thoughts positive throughout the run. I was developing a tendency to put myself down a little, but I knew that just wouldn't do. I reminded myself that I was out there doing it, instead of sitting on my butt at home. I reminded myself that I may have to go slow, but that I can also go long.
I was getting those little crumbly crusty bits on my lips (do you know what I mean?), so I think I didn't stay hydrated well enough. I have to admit that I didn't drink a whole lot before the race. I was too afraid of having to pee and not having a place to do it!!!