On Sunday, I ran the Winter Flight 8K for the first time. I first heard about it from a local runner/blogger, Molly Nunn, who happened to take 1st place (great job, girl!) I had an amazing time, beating my goal of 40 minutes by over a minute, with a finish time of 38:32. I initially thought my training lacked in the longer distance runs, as I’ve only been doing 2-4 mile runs lately, with a few longer ones thrown in when possible. I was looking for a unique race, and since I haven’t run an 8K since the Pretzelfest 8K in Germany (in 2010, with a tiny Gabe in my belly!), I figured this would be a fun one. Also, this race is “the oldest 8K in the state” and had a cute little logo (which I couldn’t find a bigger pic of). I signed up several weeks ago:
Anywho, the race took place at Catawba College in Salisbury, 45 min from our house, which I’m familiar with for the Day out with Thomas and Polar Express rides, and J is familiar because the VA clinic is nearby.
We were over an hour early, which gave me plenty of time to get my packet and shirt, use the restroom, get my bib pinned on my shirt, and warm-up.
Our car battery happened to die when we parked, so we had to get a jump from this kind older couple parked next to us (thank you, folks!). After a one mile warm-up, I decided 48* was warm enough to just go with shorts, my Oiselle Volée tank, sunglasses in case in got sunny, and neon yellow “Run Happy” arm warmers. I didn’t have much strategy, but just wanted to see if I had any speed. It had been nearly 2 months since racing! (last race was the Mistletoe half). In my mind, I broke the race up into a 2 mile “warm-up” then a 5K (not a full 3.1, but rather 3 miles). Ready to go for a 2 PM start!
The entire race course was hilly, but mile 1 wasn’t bad. I lined up near the front, eased into it, tried not to burn out too quickly, and got warmed up. I began to slow slightly going up a hill and got passed, but anymore I don’t mind getting passed as long as it’s not at the end of the race ☺ People passing me gives me motivation to keep my pace steady and try to pass them back later! Mile 1, 7:38. Right on!
Heading into mile 2, and older gentleman passed me, but stayed (strangely) very close to me, which made me mildly annoyed. Instead of dwelling on why he was so close, I decided to pace (and draft) off him. He was faster than me going uphill, but slower going down. I told myself to keep it steady, and dedicated this mile to my wonderful parents. Mile 2, 8:00 even. “2 mile warm-up”, complete.
Mile 3 was almost totally uphill, and I dedicated it to Gabe. It seemed fitting that the tough uphill mile brought back memories of bringing my stubborn, large-headed boy into the world (ohhh the utter agony!). I thought of how much I love him with every fiber of my being, and decided that if I had to do it all over again, I sure would. As I chugged up the looooong hill, I thought, “there’s probably nothing in this world comparable to a mother’s love.” And even with the 52 feet of elevation gain and zero loss, I eked out an 8:08 minute mile. At the 3 mile mark, the volunteer read off my split as 23:40 (I believe) and I couldn’t believe how close I was to my 5K PR of 23:32. Keep on chugging, V! I cheered to myself.
I realized the course was a big loop during mile 4, since we had only been turning right, and knew I was only a PT test (Army 2 mile test) away from the finish. Mile 4 was my “Asher mile” and I focused on staying strong and smooth, and reeled in the girl I had been following for several miles, and the man I had been pacing off. The man now ran with a boy around 10 years old, and I passed the girl, the boy, and the man in one decisive move. I questioned myself, whether I did it too early or not, then thought “no, just do it. Just go with your gut.” The girl said “Good job” when I passed, and I mustered a “you too!” though I was quite winded. With a lovely downhill for nearly a mile, I ran a 7:30, but was so much in the zone that I didn’t bother looking at my watch this time.
One more mile. Mile 5, or my “Javi mile,” so I poured it all in, everything I was worth, and every bit of energy I could muster to get my legs to turnover faster. I thought of my husband and what he’s been through (the invasion of Iraq, as an example), and a burst of adrenaline gave me the strength to crank it up a notch. A much older man was up ahead, and I caught him on the last uphill section (I hoped) of the race. He too said something along the lines of “good job,” so I whispered “you too”—could hardly talk at this point, I was pushing so hard. I could hear the loudspeaker at the finish line and knew we were close. I kicked into the final gear I had—a very, very fast pace—and headed into the stadium. I could see the finish line across the track, just 300 meters away. I knew Javi waited patiently there for me. Several older guys were in front of me, so I did my best to catch them all, coming around the final turn in a dead sprint, lungs and legs burning, arms clawing for more momentum. I ended up crossing the line just behind the only two men I couldn’t catch (and I couldn’t figure out which side was for ladies, lol. They had a ribbon to divide it, but it was unmarked). I could barely breathe, but looked down at my watch and saw 38:34 (official time 38:32), then I saw 7:09 flash across the screen for my mile 5 time! I couldn’t believe it. My pace at the end was 6:22/mile. I officially crushed my goal and felt absolutely incredible. I had a Runner’s High, for sure!
Javi snapped a few pics of me, which I am grateful—I’m not vain, and I actually don’t really care for the way I look while dying running, but I appreciate knowing that I gave my all, and here’s the photos to prove it, haha.
The race wasn’t chip timed, so a race volunteer handed me a paper (#61) and then I took it to the table for women’s results. I saw that I came in 3rd in my age group, but since Molly was the overall winner, she got removed from the AG results, which put me in 2nd place (of 14 total in the age group)! I knew the 1st place runner must have been far ahead of me (well over a minute, I’d find out later) so I felt great knowing that I came in second, and it wasn’t close. The girl who said “good job,” I suspect, came in 3rd, but I’m not sure if she was my age group or not (she wasn’t at the awards ceremony later on). I had 3 ladies right behind me, within 20 seconds, so I felt so grateful that I never let up and was able to take second place.
We went to get snacks and warm clothes, and I chowed down on bagel, banana, cookies, rice Krispie treats, and various other goodies 🙂 We had to wait over an hour for the awards ceremony, which kinda sucked since we were paying a baby-sitter, but… I wasn’t going to leave without my hard-earned medal, lol! At last, my little age group moment to shine, hehe:
We headed home. We were able to have adult conversations without the kids interrupting, so I’m really grateful Javi came with me. Oh, and he tried Cheerwine (a local NC fave) for the first time at the race:
Gabe was pumped to see my medal, as usual. Luna? Not so much:
Grateful, as always, if you’re reading this! What’s goals are you looking to crush this spring?
Garmin data for my fellow runNerds!