Tuesday, November 15, 2005

10K + 10 Days

I know. I suck.

Let’s move on.

So it’s Sunday morning. Well not really. It’s Tuesday evening. But the story I’m telling happened on a Sunday morning, and for a sense of immediacy, I’m choosing to write this story in the present tense.

So it’s Sunday morning. The race starts at 8 am and I haven’t registered. I need to drive there, because the metro doesn’t open until too late, and isn’t convenient to the race start anyway. I can either leave ridiculously early and be assured of finding a parking spot without any trouble and also have to stand around FOREVER in the chilly morning air waiting for the race to start, or I can leave with a minimum of extra time to spare, and risk being late. I can think of no happy medium.

I choose the second option.

I leave the house soon after 7 am, and head down Connecticut Avenue towards the Mall. It’s 7 am on a Sunday morning, so there’s nobody else on the roads. And I’m worried about time. So I’m driving fast-ish. Like 50 mph. About 10 miles above the speed limit, if the speed limit is 40 mph.

Only thing is, the speed limit is 25 mph (oops).

So I’m rather blithely speeding down Connecticut Avenue, and I notice a car start to pass me on the right. And then I notice it’s a cop.

So I slow down, and turn my head as he passes me.

He’s giving me the death stare from his driver seat.

Naomi: Shit. I’m going to get a ticket. And then I’m going to be really late. Gah. This sucks.

Universe: Nah, it’s all right. I’ve got you covered this time.

Naomi: Really?

Universe: Yeah, I’ve been messing with you enough for a while. How about that bike? That you paid 60 bucks to have tuned up? And how the chain doesn’t shift onto the smallest ring? Even after you brought it back and SBSRG fixed it AGAIN? That was pretty sweet.

Naomi: So, you’re just… gonna let this one slide?

[Cop continues past me, and eventually turns onto a side street.]

Universe: Eh. I’m feeling benevolent.

So I continue on my way, choosing a parking spot a few blocks farther than ideal rather than driving closer and having to circle around to find one. I start jogging to the race start, more to have a warm up than because I’m running late, and start to cross in front of the Lincoln Memorial (which, by the way, looks spectacular in the bright morning light).

A cop stops us (me and several other racers).

Cop: You’re going to have to wait here until they’re done shooting. Or you can walk around the back side of the memorial.

We (the runners) deduce that he means shooting with film, not bullets, and we mill around a bit, wondering how long “shooting” would take.

Naomi: See, I knew it was too good to last.

Universe: Nah, it’s all right. Just wait a sec.

A head-set wearing, clipboard-holding person is chatting with the cop. She walks away and the cop waves us through.

Cop: Just be quick.

Naomi: Wow.

Universe: Yeah. Don’t worry about it.

It’s not even 7:30, so I have plenty of time. I walk up to the registration tent, and immediately notice the sign that says $30 for race day registration. Which is a shame, because I thought it was $25. And I locked my wallet in my car (didn’t want to leave it in the bag check), opting instead to grab just enough cash to register.

Universe: Wow. You are really pushing it today.

Naomi: I suck.

Universe: Whatever. You owe me one.

Race Volunteer: It’s okay. Just give me what you’ve got. We just want everyone out and having fun.

Naomi: Thank you so much!

And so it goes. I pin my number, lace my Chip, check my bag, and even manage to find Bex and Jeanne before the race, even though we hadn’t formed any sort of plan for a meeting place.

I line up with Bex and her two friends, all of whom are inching towards the 8 minute side of the 9 minute pace area, even though I suspect I should be much closer to the 10 minute side. The race starts and my suspicions are confirmed when Bex and her friends quickly recede into the distance, and everybody around me seems to be speeding past.

I remind myself (like a mantra) that I’m running my own race, and it doesn’t matter what everyone else is running, but I still feel very slow—and also slightly winded, like I’m going to have to slow down if I plan to finish the race with any grace.

So I’m pleased (and rather surprised) when I pass the first mile marker and see 8:45 on my watch. I’m aiming for a 9 minute pace, and that means I have some room to maneuver.

The course is flat, the weather is beautiful, and the iPod only stopped working once, somewhere between mile 4 and 5. And when I get it working again, it skips right to the theme from Rocky. It feels like I’m running as hard as I can (and the fact that I can sort of taste the dried apricots I ate for breakfast that morning bears up that claim) but afterwards, of course, I feel like I could have gone faster. For the last two and a half miles, I pace myself off a woman in a navy shirt about 10 feet in front of me. Until she stops to walk. She starts running again and soon catches up, and then I’m back on her tail.

I’m running to the finish line, and I see Jeanne on the right, with a camera. I smile and try to look light on my feet. I cross the finish line at 55:44, for an average pace of 8:59 minutes/mile, and nearly a full minute off my previous 10K time. I am the last of our little group to finish, but I ran faster than a 9 minute pace for more than 6 miles (and I don’t CARE that it was only one second faster) and I think I could do better next time.

After the race, I hang out with Jeanne and Bex some more, eat a divine chocolate chip cookie, chat with a friendly Irish woman in line as we wait for our FREE massages, and head out in plenty of time to make it to my African dance class. Which I am able to participate in enthusiastically, once I eat a PowerGel with caffeine. Seriously. Caffeine is amazing. How did I not know this?

Universe: Do you want me to answer that?


Blogger David said...

Mr. Universe has it all working for you young lady. Bring him to Miami because we'll need him to translate for us.

Nice race day story!

8:02 PM  
Blogger BillyW said...

Congrats on your time! Sounds like you had a great day.

8:21 PM  
Blogger a.maria said...

holy crap youre a speed demon! congrats on the PR woman!

just outta curiosity (and pure jealousy)...how fast were you running when you started running way back when? cuz i feel like i'm the slowest runner ever, and everyone keep saying speed comes with time, but now that i can't run for a few more weeks, i'm all worried that i'll be back to my snails pace of a run and the whole thing is just depressing.

so yeah. thats my question.

and once again, total jealousy from the RBF meet-up. gah!

congrats again though, job well done, very impressive!

10:46 PM  
Blogger susie said...

Your times are really dropping. An excellent race and a fun race report:) I'm still aiming for a December meet up.

6:52 AM  
Blogger Scooter said...

It's great when one of those golden days comes up. And your math is bad...since a 10K is 6.2 miles, you were 2 tenths of a mile AND one second under! Nice race!

8:25 AM  
Blogger Noames said...

A. - I don't really know how fast I ran, because I didn't have the technology to keep track (no digital watch) but I'd go with pretty damn slow. I have improved over the last year, no question, (starting from zero makes that a given) and I haven't done much specific training for speed, so I think people are right--it comes with time and miles (to an extent--I imagine if I wanted to really improve, I'd have to work on it).

But, for what it's worth, I woudn't worry about the time off--I didn't run almost at all in the month after the marathon (b/c of Africa) and it stressed me out like crazy, but I'm really glad, because I was rested and recovered when I started running again--and it didn't take much to get back in shape.

And Susie--I'm SO up for a December meet up. Let us know when you're around.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Irene said...

Nice run! I have yet to do a 10k, but reading about your event gets me thinking I should sign up for one. Hmmmmm.... Any way, WTG!

7:45 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

I loved reading your race report, if only the Universe smiled on me like it did on you race day. Great job with the PR. May the Universe continue to favor you!

3:43 AM  
Blogger jeanne said...

So this morning, speaking of the universe, I loaded the disc into my pc, intending to send you and bex the um, not spectacular, but ok photos of the race, and then? I had to freakin' do work!!!! and i forgot about it.
So i'll try to e-mail you the teensy tiny pindot one of you crossing the finish line like chariots on fire, just as soon as I get done with this work thing!

And the minute anyone drops below 10 minute miles? They become like a god in my eyes.

(Beef up your math skills, will ya?)

5:08 PM  
Blogger a.maria said...

whooooooooa, new blog. i can dig it!

2:00 PM  

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