Waking up Thursday, February 1st with a sore throat was not in my plans leading up to Best Damn Race weekend. By Friday I had a full on cold, and I was really annoyed. During the last 10 weeks I had trained so hard for this race and I wasn’t about to let a cold steal my planned PR! Linking up with Wendy and Holly for the Weekly Wrap.
After taking lots of medication and using the neti pot on my nose several times throughout the day Friday, I had determined that how I woke up feeling on Saturday would determine how I performed in the race. I didn’t want to push my body too hard, but at the same time, I didn’t want to give up on the PR I had worked so hard to obtain. Friday evening, we planned a girls night and dinner with my regular training group so we headed out to Acropolis to eat some yummy Greek food before the race. I ended up having some Mousaka and a beer- I figured at this point one beer wouldn’t hurt!
When I woke up Saturday morning I felt strangely good. I harbored no illusions that this would last, but I was cautiously optimistic while driving to the race. I arrived around 5:30am, found parking and did a half mile warm up over to the festival area and port-o-potties (let’s be real, this is the true reason I was running over there). After texting the other girls and finding out everyone was still in their cars warming up, I ran back over to my car to do the same. The start line wasn’t very far from where I parked so I figured I could afford to heat up for a few minutes in my toasty car before we took our pre race photo. It was a frigid 55 degrees outside! (Don’t make fun of me northerners, that’s cold for us southerners. Plus it was windy).
After warming up, I finally left the car to take the start line shot with the multi-chapter MRTT group photo. I did another warm up while I was waiting for everyone else to get there- I’ve been using the lunge matrix I saw on Runner’s World to warm up before my workouts this past week and it worked well for me, so I decided to do that again pre-race.
After taking the picture, we made our way over to the start line. I was a little panicked, because I had never run this pace (goal pace 9:30) before for an entire 10k and had planned to run with a friend but I was having a hard time finding her in the crowd. No time at all passed between the time we lined up for the start and the national anthem was played to when we were off and running! I decided that even if I couldn’t find my friend, my watch was set to pace alerts between 9:00-9:30 and I would do my best to stick between those times as much as possible. I knew I wanted to run the first 4 miles at goal pace and then pick it up if I was feeling good.
The race started and before we hit the first 1/2 mile I ran into my friend, so from there I followed her. My first mile felt good and I came in right on the dot at 9:30 average pace. I tried to keep it there for the second mile, but we ended up running a little faster, at one point managing a sub 9 pace. I told Joy I wasn’t going to be able to maintain that for the rest of the race and if she felt good she could run ahead, but I was going to stick closer to the 9:30 pace for as long as possible. She said she’d stay with me for now. Our second mile came in at a 9:23. Mile 3 was also feeling pretty good- I could tell I was really close to my lactate threshold pace but I was still able to hold it. However, we encountered slight elevation, which brought my overall pace down to a 9:36- still in range of my goal time and not enough increase that I was worried about it.
By mile 4 I was really starting to feel it. I’m not sure if it was the crappy sickness catching up to me, or if I just wasn’t used to running at this speed for this long without walk breaks. I walked a water stop briefly and took a sip of some water. Mile split: 9:35. When I went into the neighborhoods for mile 5 is when I really started to feel it. Now the pace was getting harder and harder to hold- I was getting tired, and my legs were starting to hurt, but I was mentally telling myself that I was already 2/3 of the way done with the race and I needed to keep going. We hit another hill coming up to mile 5 and this one was a bit steeper. Joy had pulled ahead of me around mile 4.5 when I started to take a brief walk break to catch my breath and have another sip of water, so she was ahead of me going into the hill, but I kept following her. Mile 5 for me was 9:38- still within goal pace. After I hit the mile 5 sign, I picked it up. Even though I was still feeling in some pain, I told myself it was almost over and that my goal time was in sight. There was no way I was backing down from this now! My last mile came in at a 9:25. With .20 to go in the race, I started to really struggle. A lady running next to me said out loud, “we got this, we’re almost there!” And I willed myself to continue on. Finally we turned the corner and the finish line was in sight. It’s a mark of how much energy I had left on the course that I didn’t even really have the energy to sprint for the finish…I ran in at an 8:50 pace, which, granted was much faster than I had been running all race, but typically my “sprint to the finish” pace is closer to a 7:45 in the last few feet. Either way, it was a strong race for me! I doubled over after crossing the finish line in…drum roll…59:05! I was actually afraid I might throw up, but I didn’t.
Once I crossed the finish line, I found some other group members and we went to take pictures by the water and the PR bell. Every single time I’ve done a Best Damn Race I’ve been fortunate enough to ring the PR bell…now that I say that it’ll probably be jinxed next year 😉
Then I wandered around the festival for a bit before heading to my car to grab my blanket in between races to stay warm. It was still pretty chilly outside and since I had tossed my jacket around mile 3 I had nothing to keep me warm! Before the 5k I handed the blanket off to some other group members who weren’t participating in the 5k to hold for me. For the 5k, my friend Krystal and I decided to pace her friend Erica to a PR in the 5k. It was nice to not have any pressure in the 5k and just run for fun. It was also nice to maintain an easier pace. The 10k took a lot out of me.
Best Damn Race always puts on a great event though. They have great amenities for runners, awesome medals and courses, great prices and most things are free. I love how much they’ve grown in the last few years. My first BDR event was in 2014 in Orlando and it was a much smaller event, but even throughout the growth of the event, they’ve maintained their original statement that it was a race put on “for runners, by runners.” And I believe that makes all the difference in the quality of their events. I will definitely continue to do BDR events. If you are in Florida or looking for a good race in Florida, this is one you want to check out! (They are also in New Orleans and I’ve heard rumors of continued expansion in the south, so hopefully another city will pop up soon)!