What a day. I’m finally sitting down for what seems like the first time today to recap my thoughts.
First off, congrats to everyone racing this weekend! Between the River Bank Run and the Heart of MI 10k today and the Cleveland Marathon and Rev3 Knoxville tomorrow, it seems like half the world is racing. It has been awesome hearing about everyone’s races so far – especially those tackling a new distance for the first time. Good luck to everyone racing tomorrow!
This morning, I finished my 7th River Bank Run 25k. I didn’t make a lot of mention of this run leading up to it because this is the first time I really didn’t feel adequately trained. Yes, I have been training my ass off, but I haven’t done nearly as much run specific training as I have done in the past. Usually I am either coming off of, or in the middle of, marathon training of some sort. Because I am in the middle of IM training, I only had two goals for this race – #1 treat it as much like a tempo training run as possible and #2 finish under 2 hours to retain my “VIP” status. I’m happy to report that I succeeded at both goals. Woohoo!
We awoke to rain this morning. Lovely. I have come to expect rain at the River Bank Run though. Out of the 7 years I have done this race, it has rained 6 of the years. We headed out around 6:30AM and parked in our usual location about a mile from the start. We hurried through the rain to the Two Hour Club. By the time we got there, I was thoroughly soaked – with an hour until race time – great. If you remember from last year, the Two Hour Club (THC) is a perk for runner’s who finished the race in 2 hours or less the prior year. It is an indoor room complete with refreshments, a place to stay warm/dry, a bouncer (seriously) and a greeter. The only thing missing was the red carpet. As soon as we got to the THC, I looked down at my wrist and I realized I forgot my Garmin at home – face palm! Oh well, it is good to run naked every once in a while. With an hour until race time, I headed into the bathroom and managed to dry out my shorts with the hand blow dryer before doing some stretches.
It is a really cool environment in the room. Everyone is really friendly and laid back – there was even a teacher grading her students’ tests. She made a comment that everyone was failing it and she was going to have to make it a practice test. Poor students. Even with the laid back environment it is sort of intimidating to see runners with 100 mile race shirts, IM hats, and listening to people exchange Boston Marathon stories. There were two guys who sat down and were talking about the one guy’s lack of Garmin. Apparently his wife, who was doing the 10k, asked to borrow it. He said, “Seriously? Of all things, don’t ask for my Garmin.” haha. He was a good husband though and let her borrow it.
After hanging around and drying out for about an hour, it was time to head to the starting line. One additional perk of the THC is that there is a special starting corral at the front of the pack. Last year, I joined this corral, but realized it isn’t that great of an idea. Last year I went out at blistering 6:15 pace for the first 2 miles because I was so caught up in the energy of being out front. This year, I decided to just line up with the pace group that I would run with the entire race. I found the 7:30 pace group and decided that I would try and stick with them for the entire race. Last year’s finish was in 1:54:25 (7:19 pace) and I figured that a 7:30 pace would be manageable. It was nice to see that they actually had a “2 Hour” pace group this year. In the past, it has just been 7:30 or 8:00 groups. 7:30 is a bit fast, and 8:00 doesn’t get you in until 2:04, so it nice that they added one for people trying to break the 2 hour barrier.
After the hand cycle and wheel chair divisions got started, it was time to take off. I was a bit worried after standing around outside for a few minutes because I was already getting the chills. However, as soon as we started moving, I warmed right up. Absolutely love the atmosphere at this race. I was lined up next to a girl running for her first time and a guy doing his 19th. There were even 19 (I think. 19 or 16 – something like that) runners who have raced all 34 years. Impressive.
Despite the early rain, the weather turned out to be perfect. The rain pretty much stopped (some misting here and there), but it was overcast in the upper 50’s/low 60’s. Great running weather.
Like I mentioned, I started with the 7:30 pace group. The first miles with them went by great. We were actually holding a bit under 7:30 pace – probably about 7:25 based on my calculations from the clocks at each mile. Despite the wide roads, it remained fairly congested the entire time. I’m glad that I had the pace group to follow because it would have been easy to just settle into a group of people and forget about running your own race. I alternated water and Gatorade at each aid station. Huge “Thanks!” to all the volunteers – they did an amazing job throughout the race. I also took 4 Gu Chomps that I was carrying at mile 5 as well.
At about mile 4, there was a woman with headphones on (very loudly I might add) that cut off the woman in front of me causing her to stumble. Luckily, the woman had good balance and regained her composure but it was nearly a runner pileup. It would have been bad if she went down. As a former headphone wearing runner, I totally appreciate the benefit they add, but please, please, please be careful out there.
Right after mile 5, I was feeling some uncomfortableness in the upper-chestal region – nipple chafage. Thankfully there was an aid station just ahead and took some lube which drastically helped. However, in the process of applying, I tore one of the holes in the race number. It was dangling by the remaining hole and driving me crazy. I realized that there were two perfectly good holes in the bottom so I rehung my number upside down – all on the run. Success!
Miles 6 to 7 are awesome. After running the first 6+ miles with hardly any spectator support, the road opens up and there are hundreds of people at Johnson Park cheering on the runners. The Grandville High School sports teams line the road screaming their heads off. Those miles flew by as I soaked in the energy the crowd provided. By mile 8, we had actually made up our time difference and were running a 7:30 pace based on the clock time versus our chip time so about 30 seconds above pace.
Around mile 9, the 7:30 pace group started to pull away from me. I thought about trying to keep up, but I kept thinking about my long bike ride scheduled for this afternoon and decided to just try and keep them in my sight.
At mile 10, the always lovely and wonderful Jennie was in her usual spot for a hug and photo op. Thanks (again) babe for braving yet another rainy race to photo journal and sherpa.
Miles 11 to Finish
Easily the hardest part of the race. Both because it is the finish but also because it is the most difficult portion of the course. From mile 10 to 12.5, you have to suffer through the rollers of Butterworth. I think they add an extra hill each year. They aren’t big hills by any means, but they are unrelenting and brutal. Every time you get to the top of one thinking it was the last one, another one is staring you in the face and laughing.
Thankfully, after the hills, it is pretty flat the rest of the way. While the final miles of this race are tough, it is very motivating because there are spectators lining the street from mile 12 to the finish line. My dad was out on his corner at mile 13 – the race runs right by his house. After seeing my dad, the course winds through the John Ball Park Zoo parking lot and it has a Tour de France-esq feel to it as you wind around a fountain with hoards of fans on each side of the road. My dad actually took a short cut and jogged up to Fulton to see me again before I hit the final stretch.
I kept looking at the clocks at each mile, doing the math, and trying to figure out where I was. I had lost sight of the 7:30 pace group, but the 2 hour pace group hadn’t caught me yet. So, logically, I knew I was on track for sub 2 hours. However, mentally, I wouldn’t let myself concede that fact. I was afraid that if I got over confident I would back off too much and miss the mark. It wasn’t until mile 15, with a half mile to go, that I knew I had sub 2 hours locked in.
I pushed as hard as could all the way to the finish crossing the line in 1:57:03.
The post race is exceptional. Lots of goodies for the runners and full blown post race party for runners, spectators, and families. I grabbed some chocolate milk, water, fruit, and bagels. I am loving the fact that they are having chocolate milk at more and more races. I was actually contacted by a marketing rep for the Got Milk? campaign before the race offering me a free race entry. I had to decline though because I was already registered. Apparently the Got Milk? campaign is really going to start pushing the benefits of chocolate milk as a recovery drink.
Because it was raining and I was getting the chills, we really didn’t hang around for long. I didn’t even get my free beer. Just wasn’t feeling up to yet another post race Michelob Ultra. Oh, and dear runner (yes runner) who was smoking in the post race party, not cool. Take that crap elsewhere please.
I can not stress enough how much I love this race. It is a ton of fun and is a very well organized event. If anyone ever needs a spring race, I would recommend it. Especially, if you have never done a 25k before – guaranteed PR! From expo to post race festivities, this race is 5 star quality.
On a sad note, the running community lost a member today at the race. A healthy, 37-year old, father of 3, collapsed at the 14 mile mark today and died. Even though, I never met this particular person, it hits hard when a runner is lost. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned tomorrow for a recap of the weekend including my long post race bike ride this afternoon.
|Age Group Place:||104/412|
|Run Pace:||7:33 min/mile|