The porta-potty line is not where you want to be when the they announce that there are 4 minutes left until the start of a race with 11,000 registered runners. It’s like one of those scenes in superhero movies where the hero needs to choose between saving their sidekick and their love interest, except also their bladder is also overflowing and it’s really hard to think about anything except Niagara Falls. Sure, there’s like 75 stalls, but when at least 15 people are ahead of you in your line, some mental math will quickly tell you that the situation is hopeless, that the porta-potty just wasn’t in your horoscope today, and that you might soon be forced to make an executive decision about just how important going to the bathroom before a race is (FYI – it’s pretty frigging important).
So this morning before running my second Boilermaker race in Utica, NY, I made a mad dash into the woods (where I saw at least two-dozen other men and women), used the spacious facilities of Nature, sprinted to the start (vaulting over one of those ugly plastic mesh fences en route), and had just enough time to re-tie my shoes before the gun went off.
Races with thousands of runners tend to start slowly. So slowly that it can take several minutes to cross the actual starting line after the gun goes off. You do a lot of work initially darting into spaces as they open up in the crowd, and you get a lot of mean looks as you frantically cut people off in an effort to actually start racing. Given the initial crawl, I wasn’t too surprised when I passed the first mile-marker and the humongous digital clock read near 9-minutes. But after that, the speed picked up pretty fast.
I don’t like wearing watches in road races because I try to just focus on pushing the pace rather than thinking about splits. I’ve been known to dislike wearing watches so much that if I’m accidentally wearing one at the start, I’ll immediately hand it off to an arbitary person in the crowd (with my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to find them later). Today, however, every mile of the race had a huge digital clock burning my splits into the back of my brain, and I couldn’t help but calculate how fast each mile was. I won’t break down the splits here, but I will say that the fourth and fifth miles were both around 6 minutes/mile, which actually frightened me a bit during the race, especially given the course elevation profile.
I ran these quick miles after a pretty decent starting 5K (22:48). Yeah, mile five is way downhill, but mile four is the steepest of the race. After I hit the 10K (42:44), my body started giving up and I struggled through to the finish. It is totally ridiculous and unbelievable to me that after running 90% of a race like this, thoughts of stopping will creep into the edges of my consciousness. Why then, when the finish is practically in view?! But I didn’t stop, and finished in a happy 62:58 (gun time), at least four minutes faster than the last time I ran this race. The post-race party was awesome (fortuitous, considering it took me over 2 hours to find the people I drove up to Utica with). I feel sort of tight and tired now, and I’m looking forward to an easy recovery run tomorrow!
(By the way, I’m super glad I got to write a longish blog post on Embrace Your Geekiness Day).