If you had told me 2 years ago before I started running that I am competitive I would have told you were were crazy. Besides a few years on the tennis team in high school I didn't participate in organized sports and as far as my grades, I could care less. As long as I got A's without putting too much effort into it (aka not studying because I learned early on I'm allergic to it) I could care less what anyone else got in comparison to me.
But running has brought out my inner competitive nature. I am always in the solid middle of the pack, nowhere near the front or the back, but I was always faster than most of the people I ran with. And I never really thought too much of it until someone got to close to me and then it became my mission to beat them.
That being said, it's been really hard mentally to be in the back of the pack. And by the back I mean the BACK. As in finishing with the last of the group. It sucks but I'm trying to find the good in it (because the police coming by to tell you that you need to start running on the sidewalks and weaving your way through spectators is NOT good. At all. It kind of makes you want to cry).
Today's race was really slow and I think it was because it was pretty hot compared to what I've been running in and due to being sick the last two weeks I haven't run at all. I really couldn't afford to miss two long runs but I had to so I'm not sure I was fully preapred. But hey, I finished it, right?
I'm preferring to focus on the good things of being in the back of the pack during my 10 mile hilly traipse through Syracuse today, also known as the Mountain Goat:
1) More people cheer for you when you're at the end and they cheer for you by name or number (depending on what's on your bib). This was AWESOME because I thanked every single group that cheered for me, something I can't do when I'm going faster because I'm more focused and in a bigger pack so they wouldn't hear me anyway. And I got to give a lot more high fives to a lot more little kids. That's kind of my favorite part of a whole race :) I appreciate spectators so much because they give me so much energy and inspiration to push my hardest.
2) I always end up at my own pace in a race which means I'm not running with anyone I know so I talk to other runners and cheer them on around me but that happened a lot more today (and at my half marathon in March) than it has in the past. I actually met a woman who ran the Boilermaker last year for the first time and said she hated it! Blasphemy! That race is awesome! But maybe it's because I grew up near there so seeing my family and high school friends and even my babysitter (aka second mom) from when I was little cheering me on is why I love it so much?
3) I was able to notice a lot more of the course today than I did when I ran it two years ago. There is so much preparation and community that goes into this race and it's great to notice that. A doctor who I used to do surgery with a few years ago when I was still a vet tech lives on the course and he always has a big party so I got to wave to him (two years ago I got a wretched stitch in my shoulder by his house so I was trying not to die when I passed it). At mile 4 or 5 someone strings a bunch of Mountain Goat shirts from past races hanging above the road so I was able to look at a lot more of them than I was before. At mile 5 or 6 when going through Onondaga Park there is a company who works with children (I forgot in what regard) that puts almost a quarter mile of bright blue and silver pinwheels in the ground on both side of the course that spin in the wind. I had forgotten about that part but it's one of my favorites. Going up the notoriously hardest hill of the race, Colvin (which is really a looooong road that just keeps climbing and I cursed it fully) people write motivational things in chalk to get you focused on that instead of the climb (my favorite was "It's Tiger Blood Time!". No joke it was). And then right before Thorden, the last hill of the race, there was a long line of Celtic Dancers dancing and the hill itself is COVERED in a huge rainbow explosion of motivational things. They draw on it to a lesser degree for the training runs and I always get a little teary because they say things like, "I run because..." and then a huge list of reasons why going up the hill. All of these things add up to why, without a doubt, this is my favorite race of the entire year.
4) No one was blocking my way out of the finish chute. The 10 car pile up of people when you cross the finish line is the worst when all you want to do is get some water asap and sit down for a minute and I was able to get out pretty quickly.
So there are the positives that I am writing down to negate the fact that if I didn't feel so awful I would be kicking and stamping my feet like a 4 year old because it took me longer to run ten miles than it did to run my first half marathon. And why am I feeling lousy? I have no idea but I suspect dehydration. Again. I felt ok during the race although I was kind of thirsty going into it despite drinking 16oz of water beforehard (and quite a bit yesterday) but after I finished and walked a half mile back to my car (parking was awful this year) I started to feel really nauseous. I'll spare you the details but by the time I got home things weren't pretty and I was breaking out in cold sweats. I took a nap and ate a sandwich and am feeling better but the rest of the day I'm spending in bed drinking a lot of water. And also resting/icing my knee because the right one started hurting around mile 6 which slowed me down significantly.
When I ran this race two years ago I finished it in about an hour and 45 minutes. Today it took me 2 and a half hours which suuuuuuuuucks. But next year? Next year I am going for less than an hour and a half because there is a medal involved if I can do it. And I can. I forget sometimes how far I've come since I had to stop running last year in only a very few short months (three to be exact). And I forget how much harder it is to run with 40 extra pounds and I get down on myself sometimes about it. But I'm slowly working it off so next year I'm coming for you, Mountain Goat! We have a hot date and it's going to last than an hour and a half, none of this two and a half hour funny business!
I didn't get any good pictures at the race but here's this year's race shirt which I LOOOOVE! It was gender specific this year and the women's is bright, obnoxious pink (which is kind of my jam right now):
And Trixie trying to steal my super amazing chocolate mousse cake that I got last night from my favorite Italian bakery so that I had something to look forward to after my race today (I've wanted a piece of this cake for months and was not sharing!):
In conclusion: I didn't run the race I had hoped for but I finished it and am now a two time Goat. And I'll be ready next year, Look out MG!