Even though I hadn’t mentioned The Labour Day 10K Race, I was really excited about running it. First, it is in my town and I love being able to race so close to home. Being the day before school starts, I dream about winning it, or doing awesomely well, or even getting my picture in the paper so that I can impress the kids at school.
I also had more definitive plans for this race. My running has really improved over the past year and, for the first time in a long time, I am setting time goals to achieve. At this event, I wanted to hold onto sub-7 minute miles for the distance, a realistic goal based on my 5K races. All summer, I have asked myself the same question: can I hold that pace for 10 kilometres?
I wanted to so much that I couldn’t sleep on Friday night because I got that pre-race adrenalin rush and my heart rate jumped. My husband even complained that I was running in my sleep. It’s a good thing that I was awakened by a cold rain at 5:30 in the morning; I got up and hit the road instead.
This morning, everything went right. There was no drama getting out the door, the boys were relaxed (probably tired was more like it) and Little Ironman didn’t cry when I left them to warm up. I wished good luck to some friends, Shawn and Anabela who were running the 10K and Ken who was running the half-marathon, and I took my spot at the start. The horn sounded and – what the????
Some dork behind me pushed me so hard that I lost my balance and fell forward. I heard shrieks all around me while I’m on all fours, trying to figure out to get up quickly and avoid getting trampled. For a fleeting moment, I wondered how graceful I must have looked in my running skirt, and I wondered if the race photographer caught it. Buddy Shawn saw me out of the corner of his eye and ran back (who says chivalry is dead?) and someone else grabbed my right elbow to help me up. My adrenalin was soaring and I took off.
I knew that I had scrapes. I landed on my knuckles and could see that my finger joints were bleeding; I was sure that my right leg was too but I didn’t care to stop and look. Shawn, who decided to stick with me after my little incident, called the first kilometre for me – 4:20. I’m quite certain that I cursed. Then, shortly after the first kilometre, I began to worry that my timing chip fell off when my leg hit the ground. Shawn said he saw it so I relaxed.
After 2 kilometres, the race became very competitive for me. Looking back, I think it was the most competitive race that I have ever run. There was Running Dork, whom I’m starting to think may be the jerk that pushed me. He kept cutting me off, he ran in front of me when I started to pass him and, basically, he kept getting in my way – for the entire ten kilometres. He was such a nuisance that when he grabbed a cup of water, I called out “Dude, throw the cup to your left” so that I wouldn’t get soaked if he tossed it to the right. I must have still been riled from the starting push. But really, now, how big a deal is it if a chick wants to run beside you, or even pass you? We’re not in the same age group and I’m pretty sure that our genders are different too. Geesh.
The competitive edge came from two ladies, one in black and the other in pink and blue. We were within 10 metres of each other the entire race and they too were having trouble getting around The Dude . The three of us took turns in the lead – back and forth and back and forth.
Shawn continued to call kilometre splits for me and I knew I was on track for a sub-45 run.
With 500 metres left, the five of us – Shawn, Running Dork, the ladies and I – were still neck and neck. Running Dork pulled ahead and Shawn followed, passing him in the end (Yeah, Shawn!). The lady in pink shorts and I pulled slightly ahead but continued to fight side by side until the last hundred metres when she pulled ahead, finishing one second faster. What a race!
As soon as I crossed the finish line, I went straight to the medical tent to be cleaned up. My knee was dirty and bloody; the medical guy spent fifteen minutes washing and bandaging my leg and fingers. His comment was the same as everyone else who hears my story: You got pushed at the starting line? Man, some people are competitive.
But, the story does have a happy ending. I did finish with sub-7 minute miles – 6:57’s to be exact, giving me a 43:13 finish time and a sixth place finish. And, even better, I was the third Master Gal to cross the finish line which gave me a podium moment.
So, tomorrow, the first day of school, when the kids ask about the large bandaid on my leg, I will have a great story to share. And I really hope that the photographer missed my glamorous butt-in-the-air kodak moment. That would not be the picture I dreamed of to impress the kids.