Spoiler Alert: On Saturday, Dad and I completed the 2013 Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k, while also successfully achieving our goal of beating our time from last year!
We got off to a bit of a rough start, as our wave started at 9:20, and we were still looking for parking in downtown Richmond at 9:11. We wound up snagging a primo parking spot only a few blocks from the starting corrals, but we missed our wave start and had to hop in line with a slower group. (I didn’t mind, but being surrounded by walkers and slower joggers really put my dad on edge…and brought out his running road rage.)
I’ve run in quite a few races (from high school cross country to my “adult” return to the running scene), and the large-scale events are by far the most fun. When you’re running with 38,685 other people, it’s hard not to feel the energy. It also helps that Sports Backers really knows how to put on a good event.
The music was pumping and the announcer’s commentary had everyone cheering and clapping as we waited for our wave to be released. Flo Rida’s “Good Feelin'” started playing–which was perfect, because my dad only recently discovered (and loves) that song–and then, right around 9:30, we were off!
Our plan was always to take the first mile slowly, to get warmed up and acclimated. Dad, however, forgot this as soon as we started, and took off, dodging through people and getting more and more worked up by every walker in his path. I tried to hang with him, but quickly realized that his jog-sprint-jog madness wasn’t jiving with my slow-and-steady mindset (or training). I told him that he could go as fast as he wanted, but I was sticking with the plan and wouldn’t be going much faster. Like a good partner, he adapted and slowed down for me.
Somewhere during mile 2, I got a cramp in my right obliques, which nagged at me for about 10 minutes. For whatever reason, it just wasn’t my greatest running day. The cramp went away, but I didn’t have the energy I wanted. For most of the race, I felt like giving up and walking, as my body wasn’t cooperating and I just felt s-l-o-w. Thankfully, though, Dad was there to pull me along, as I did for him last year. (Last year, I was in better shape than he was, and I was there to motivate him and pull him through. This year he did the same for me.)
The 3 mile mark for this race is the turnaround point (it’s an out-and-back course), and right around then is when I finally started feeling better. At that point, I felt like I would make it, and based on our 5k split, I knew we’d beat last year’s time! Then, around mile 4, things went downhill again. I asked dad several times during the 4th mile “where the heck is the 5-mile marker?!,” because things were feeling bleak.
We made it through, though. In one last spurt of dramatics, there was a minor freak-out on my part when we passed the 6-mile marker and Dad (trying to be encouraging) said, “only two-tenths to go!” For some reason, I had been calculating our time throughout the race based on a 6.1-mile course, instead of 6.2. I was pretty pissed when I realized that I had closer to 2 more minutes to run than 1. Minor oversight on my part.
Suffice it to say: it wasn’t my greatest race, but it was still a good time. It’s always fun running Sports Backers events, because they organize things so well, with bands and motivation all along the way. There were bands on literally every block of the race, and different organizations lining the streets to cheer the runners on. It helps to have a plethora of things to look at, to take your mind off the task at hand.
We crossed the finish line for an official time of 1:06:44, which is a full 6 minutes and 4 seconds faster than last year–nearly a minute faster per mile!
I’m excited to be back in the swing of running, even if this race showed that I’m far from being back in top form. It’s hard not to be frustrated when I look at the differences between my times during my half marathon training in 2011 and now, but I try to remember that simply getting out there is healthier and better for me than not!
I’m registered for the Heart of Virginia 10k in 3 weeks, so I plan to add a few more speed and hill workouts to my routine. It’s never the distance that gets me, it’s the speed. I definitely need to improve in that area. I’m also considering attempting a Paleo diet, since it’s proven quite effective for some runner-people out there in the blogosphere, but I plan to do a little more research first…
Overall, it was a great day and a great race. I’m glad to have done it, as it gives me a baseline to start a new, healthy phase of my life. (I’ve majorly slacked off for over a year, so this has gotten me back on track.) Dad and I plan to be back next year, and he’s already talking about breaking an hour!