Another beautiful run through Bernheim Forest! This year's Home Run race--which benefits the Home of the Innocents, a local non-profit agency that provides all types of assistance to children and families in need--was even more meaningful than in years past. It feels great to support such a wonderful organization for the last few years (even beyond race day). Additionally, Bernheim holds a very dear place in my heart and makes a beautiful race course, especially during this season. Also, I have always had an appreciation for the participants in general, who are always friendly and a great group of people to run alongside. But this year, all of those wonderful reasons for loving the Home Run race received an addition--this was my first race since having my baby 3 months ago and the first non-pregnant race I've done since this same race last year. It just felt good to be back at it and doing it on my own terms. As much as I loved being pregnant and having a constant "buddy" with me during all of my training runs and races, it felt good to be an independent being again. Today was my postpartum rite of passage!
Racing, much like my training runs, requires much more preparation and time management now that I'm a Mother, and especially a nursing Mother. There's no longer any "getting up and going" anywhere, especially a run. So I woke up and did my "running Mother" routine and dressed in my Halloween costume, which I adapted a bit to make it suitable for running. I dressed as the "Sun Drop girl," and I will post a picture from the race as soon as DM gets me a copy! Now, the Sun Drop girl has a very confident, yet silly personality and looks like this (not the Planter's Nut):
I got dressed in the outfit (running tights instead of leggings and blue running shorts instead of denim, of course) and got everything ready to go. Just as I was about to leave, I looked at myself in the mirror and I felt a knot in my stomach. Was I really going to go to the race like this? I felt so ridiculous--"what if nobody there has seen the commercial? What if they don't get it?" I had a talk with myself and decided that I didn't care what anyone thought (lie) and hopped in the car!
The ride there was smooth and quick but once I got off of the expressway, I saw nothing but brake lights and lots of them. Traffic was backed up at the entrance to Bernheim Forest--this is something I have never seen before. In previous years, I assume I arrived at the race much earlier. Today, I was about 20 minutes later than normal and there was a marked difference. But once past the entrance, things went pretty quickly and I was able to park. Taking a step out of my car proved to be a scary experience because, even though I had "pep talked" myself, I was still feeling a bit nervous about my outfit. My boost of confidence came as I was walking past the incoming stream of vehicles and people in the cars were looking at me and laughing--not the kind of laughter that evokes pity, but the kind that a comedian gets when he tells a funny joke. I knew that at least some people would recognize me and get a kick out of it.
After grabbing my bib and surveying the crowd of people for faces I recognized, I had a decision to make. I had 9 minutes until the start and I could either warm up or go to the bathroom. I decided I'd rather have cold muscles than a full bladder. The running gods were on my side (I'm sure it was the Sun Drop outfit) and after I used the bathroom, I made it to the start line where they informed us that there had been a problem and they were going to postpone the race by 5 minutes. So I got a short warmup in after all!
When you are alone at the start, there's not a lot to do but listen to other people talk. And there were some fun conversations this morning ranging from "I don't really feel the need to match when I workout" to "I can't believe she brought her child here." I also tied and re-tied my shoes about 4 times. They just weren't feeling right.
Finally, it was time to go and I started my Garmin as I crossed the start. I made a big decision and one that I've never made before. I decided to conserve energy and not "bob and weave" through the walkers and slower runners (surprisingly, there were quite a few people running slower than me...WTF?). I moved to the left and joined a stream of runners, who fortunately, weren't running all that fast, and I stayed steady and slow. I knew that the worst part of this 10K was the first 5K and I wanted to make it through without losing steam. At the first turn, I saw my Mom standing there waiting! I was surprised to see here there because I thought there was no way she could have made it in time! I "dropped it like it was hot" for her and took the first turn. After soldiering up the first few hills, I was surprised (and a little worried) to see that I had just run my first mile in under 12 minutes. During my test run the week before on the same course, I had run that first mile in over 13 minutes. Yikes.
Near the end of the second mile, I looked ahead and saw a runner of the shorter variety wearing orange--my favorite color. I thought it might have been Lenore but couldn't tell from so far behind. I saw a woman struggling and I told her to not give up. We talked for a several yards and I gave her a few more encouraging words before heading off. As I got closer to the person I thought was Lenore, I began yelling her name and realized she had earbuds in! The lady running beside her tapped her (and probably scared her to death!) to get her attention for me! She was having a shoe lace problem and by that time, I was beginning to notice that I wasn't feeling so chipper anymore. Walk breaks were going to be my friend this race.
As I neared mile 3, I could see my Mom on the big hill waiting for me. I "dropped it" again for her and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a big red stroller coming at me. It was my wonderful Husband and my little guy! That absolutely made my DAY! I stopped to give them a kiss and declined a can of Sun Drop that my husband offered and continued on, ready to tackle the mostly uphill portion of the next mile and a half.
During the next 3 miles, Lenore and I played a fun game of "Leapfrogspankdatoosh." Really, without her being there, I'm not sure how I would have performed. I also got excited for her because she told me she didn't have high expectations for her finish time but I knew she was doing better than she thought!
There came a point on this long, mostly uphill road where I thought it would never end. Where the EFF was the turnaround? Had they already packed everything up and gone home? Did someone trip over a tree branch, crash into the cone and knock it down the hill? During my training run the week before, I intentionally went much farther up the road so that I would be prepared mentally and physically for this moment. Turns out, that preparation did no good. The only thing that kept me from giving up and turning back early was the nice volunteer that told me that I didn't have much longer until the turnaround. And she wasn't one of those lousy liar types--you know what I'm talking about. The person that yells, "Hey, you're almost done" when you actually have 23 miles to go. I want to hurt those people!
I see the turnaround, and there's another nice volunteer who gave me encouraging words and finally--time to fly. (Okay, 11:00 minute miles are not flying, but give me a break!) All (or mostly) downhill from there. I was fatigued but I tried to push as good as I could.
As I neared the 6 mile mark, I saw all of the faster runners and 5K'ers in their cars, heading home! I could be one of them soon! I made the last turn and I hear Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell: Drop it Like it's Hot blaring at the finish. My adrenaline shot through the roof--what a coincidence!! Then I heard my name and almost immediately, I see my Husband, Son and my Mom there smiling and cheering. I paused in front of the DJ booth and "dropped it" once more and I got lots of cheers. Last year, people were cheering as I came into the finish but I was saddened to learn that it wasn't for me, but for the mentally challenged youth that was about to pass me. Turns out, if you are in your thirties and a slow-as-molasses runner and you want to get cheers at the finish line of a race, you should dress in a costume and have some awesome family members there to back you up with suitable song requests. Best finish ever!
My goal was 1:15 and my Garmin read 1:12:32--chip time was a minute slower and I have no idea how. I'll record my chip time as official but I'm going to go with my Garmin time!
Here are my splits in case you're interested, and even if you aren't:
Obviously, the final 0.2 was a little slow due to the "dropping!"
Great time as always and how amazing it was to finish the race and be able to hug my baby boy!