Monday, May 13, 2013

Fifth Third Riverbank Run race report

The fifth third riverbank run was an experience I won't forget anytime soon. I really didn't know what to expect going into the race. I knew that it's the biggest 25K in the country and that 21,000 people compete between all the different divisions. And friends told me that it was lots of fun. But that didn't stop me from being really, really nervous. I was in no way prepared for the race (training wise) and the day before the race I still felt sick. Every time I coughed my head hurt, which meant that my head also hurt with every running step. But since my lungs were clear I decided that I was going to do it regardless of how I felt.

My goal was to go to bed early but for some reason I managed to get sucked into a movie that I won't mention (it was Twilight) and didn't fall asleep until 11:30 p.m. Oops! I still woke up bright and early at 6 a.m. and was instantly wide awake, excited, and really, really nervous. I can eat almost anything before a bike race but with running it's completely different. I settled on a bagel and a banana and that was probably a little too much since the race started at 8:20 a.m. I'm still figuring out the nutrition stuff when it comes to running.

We picked up our registration packets the day before and I felt really antsy waiting to go downtown (where the race started). Usually I'm rushing around loading up my bike, shoes, helmet etc. This time all I had to do was tie my shoes. I spent the rest of the time pinning and re-pinning my stupid number plate on my shirt. I couldn't get it straight for the life of me.

Finally it was time to put on my game face...ok, not a very good game face.

For as crowded as the race was, it was also really organized. We arrived about a half hour before the race started and I tried to stay inside as long as possible because it was 40 degrees out and cloudy. Brrrr! I just wore a t-shirt and running shorts because I knew I would get hot the moment I started running. I was a little surprised that the race corrals were still pretty empty with 20 minutes to go but quickly realized where everyone was. Lined up at the porta-potty's. I vaguely remembered reading in my race pamphlet that anyone who finished in 2-hours or less the year before had a room of their own with private gear checks and more importantly, private restrooms. Instantly I decided to try and make the 2-hour club...just for the private restrooms :-)

With 5 minutes to go the race corrals filled up. First the elites, then the 2-hour club and then everyone else. There were pace signs held up and by the time I finally was able to freaking use a porta-potty the 12:30/milers were lining up. I hopped in with them and tried to work my way up. I think I made it to the 8:30/milers by the time the race started which was a blessing in disguise. It was so crowded there was no chance of me going off too hard. We headed down the street and I couldn't help but smile. It was really cool to be running in such a huge crowd, with soooo many people cheering us on.

The first couple of miles flew by. There were aid stations every 1.5 miles and my ultra-endurance runner friend Ben gave me a tip to pinch the top of the dixie cup to make drinking easier. It worked but I still managed to get gatorade up my nose, down my shirt and everywhere in-between. The volunteers were all amazing and I can't say enough good things about them. There were tons of them at each aid station and they were all so cheerful and encouraging. One aid station had cheerleaders lined up on both sides waving their pom-poms and dancing to music. It was awesome. It makes me want to rent a cheerleading squad to travel with me to endurance races just so that I could have them cheering every time I come through the pit area...haha.

I didn't feel horrible during the first part of the race, but I also didn't feel great. Just for the record, coughing and snot rockets are much harder to do while running. My legs started to feel it around the 6-7 mile marker and I realized that I was in over my head. My hamstrings started to get tight and my feet started yelling, "what is this pounding on pavement? Where are the pedals???"

I managed to keep most of the race "I can't do this" demons out of my head but my calf muscles were slowly going into shock. They definitely were not prepared for what I was putting them through. I had no clue what pace I was going but right when I started to feel like I was slowing down I heard a familiar tune...

"Rising up, back on the street!"

Haha, it was Eye of the Tiger blaring over loud speakers. As I got closer I realized that it was a live band playing the song. The singer was standing on the side of the road with a curly mullet, trucker cap and aviator glasses. The best part??? He was high-fiving all of the runners on his side of the road while singing the lyrics into his microphone. It was probably one of the best things I've ever witnessed in a race. It almost could have been a scene in a movie. 

At every mile marker there were time clocks and at the 12 mile marker I started doing the math. I realized I was really close to hitting the 2-hour mark. The only problem was that my feet and calf muscles were starting to cramp. The crowds were getting bigger and bigger and by the 13 mile mark people were standing shoulder to shoulder cheering us on. It was crazy.  There were tons of signs waving around but my favorite one simply said, "don't poop!" I felt like that one was made specifically for me. 

With ten minutes to go I saw the 14 mile marker and got really excited. I had been running for 1 hour and 50 minutes and realized that I was going to make the 2-hour club. I was already imagining the private restrooms for next year :-) I tried to pick it up a bit but I think I just maintained my pace. I was feeling muscles I didn't even know that I had. 

After a half mile I saw another sign, this one said, "only 1 more mile to go." I was shocked. I'm not sure when and where I got the idea that 25K = 15 miles but I was wrong. Apparently I was in a 15.5 mile running race and that last mile took forever. The only thing that kept me from crawling to the finish line were the crowds of people cheering from both sides. Like I said, I've never experienced anything like it before. 

The finishing chute was really long and I borderline wanted to puke and pass out at the same time. There were tons of tents and volunteers started handing me things left and right. First it was water, then gatorade, then muscle milk, then yogurt, then bananas, oranges and watermelon. The "poor mountain bike racer" in me grabbed every free sample that I could and by the time I left the chute I had to carry a few bananas in my sports bra. Nothing weird about that, right??? I was really happy when I finally found Scott so that he could take some of my loot. 

My chip time was 2:02:08. close! I got 30th place out of 521 women in my age group. I'm really happy with how I did, especially since I was racing on antibiotics with minimal training. I'll definitely be back next year....I have to beat that 2-hour mark!

Now I'm on a mission to recover as quickly as possible. I'm planning on racing the Xterra Du at Ft. Custer this coming weekend. Right now that seems a little crazy since I can't even lift my legs but hopefully tomorrow I feel more mobile.  Jason taped my left leg and the top of my foot muscle is already feeling better. If all else fails, I'll just throw Rock Tape on the rest of my body on the day of the race!

The good news is that the Xterra has mountain biking in it and the running portion is much shorter. I shouldn't (knocking on wood) be that sore afterwards, which is good. I have some endurance races right around the corner and a lot of long rides are in order.

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