Today's race marked my first anniversary of road racing! The 2008 Anthem 5K Fitness Classic was my first race ever and I was a nervous wreck. I not only had to deal with the nerves of race day but I was also consumed with all of the "rules" and etiquette of racing. I was pretty nervous but still very excited! Today was a MUCH different experience! Meeting with friends, meeting new friends, pre-race routine is down to a science and I just was able to truly enjoy the race this year!
Joey and I drove down to meet the Run the Ville Squad at our pre-determined meeting place and we got right into our warm up, which consisted of 1 mile weaving through the downtown streets. This was perfect though, because the race pretty much involved weaving through people the entire time. LOL
We all headed over to Preston St. because it was getting close to start time and the crowds were filling in. It was amazing to see that people. I heard 9,000-10,000 people were running in today's race. That's INSANE! They separated the walkers and I think that was INSTRUMENTAL in the fluidity of the race today. Yes, there was plenty of bobbing and weaving to do but it wasn't around walker and strollers and that made for a happy bunch of runners.
The first mile flowed as smooth as butter for me. I separated from Joey and started to weave my way through as I picked up my pace a bit. I felt SO STRONG!! I felt comfortable, even though I knew I was running a fast pace for ME. River Road was nice and flat and the sun was out and it was just beautiful this morning! Mile 1 popped up and my watch (chip time) was at 9:05. Great pace for me, that's faster than normal BUT I felt great so I stayed with it.
We took a turn at the Heigold House, which split the field right down the middle.
I noticed that people were starting to fizzle a little but I still had my SIZZLE so I kept a consistent pace. I still felt great so I didn't want to give it up. I saw the only sizable hill approaching me and had a quick inner debate because I saw so many people stopping and not being able to get over the hill easily. Should I take it easy or just go for it? I went all out. Knees up and elbows pumping and I got up that hill like a champ! Still felt great at the top, even if I was a little winded. Mile 2 split appeared after a couple of turns and I was at 17:52! That meant I ran the second mile in under 9 minutes! FANTASTIC.
After that, I felt better than I normally do during any given point of a 5K but I was starting to tire out a bit. I slowed down a little bit so that I could finish stronger rather than faster (plus my stomach wasn't feeling the best all morning, and especially not after stepping in vomit and seeing everyone around me barfing!). I truly felt the worst during the last 3/4 mile or so of the race but I wouldn't give in to any thoughts of walking. I just tried to keep running consistently. The crowds really picked up as we ran further down Main St. and it was such a great atmosphere. Everyone was supportive and cheering and that is always great! I looked over and saw bright yellow and realized it was my teammate, Lee. He had finished up and was running back for a cool down. I was happy to finally see someone familiar!
Eventually, I heard someone say "THERE IT IS!" and I looked up and saw the Finish Line about 500m ahead. I glanced at my watch and saw 27:xx and wondered if I would be able to make it there in 2-3 minutes! I heard someone on the field tell her daughter to "look straight ahead, don't look up at the finish line" and I thought, "Good advice." I just locked onto the white cutoff T-shirt on the man a few steps up from me and kept running solidly.
As I got closer, I heard cheers and screams but didn't know if they were from people I knew or not--I didn't care. They helped! Through the finish into the chute--29:19 on my watch. Great time! I was VERY excited and almost a little emotional and I would have allowed myself to feel those things if I didn't feel like barfing. I didn't--but I thought I was going to.
Overall impression of the race today--excellent. The route changes were FANTASTIC, the separate start for the runners and walkers was brilliant and it was just an overall success, in my opinion. I will continue to run this for as long as I can, as it's my first ever race AND a great race overall.
Did I mention they had cinnamon crunch bagels again this year? They actually had Chik-fil-A biscuits too but I somehow managed to miss them! What a bummer!! Tom, Joe, Lee (Team Run the Ville), Joey, my mom, Joey's parents, and Joe's wife all went for breakfast at Panera and had another nice time.
I want to add that I am totally impressed with Lee's running and I think he's an awesome guy--glad you were able to drive down and hang with us. You rock! I love my "running club" homies! I couldn't ask for anything better!