Candy Cane Course 5k: Race Recap

(For results, click here.)

On Saturday, I ran my final race for 2012. Um, no. That’s not enough build-up. On Saturday, after FAILING TO TRAIN ALL WEEK due to sickness (my own, the toddler’s), I was still stubborn enough to haul my sniffly behind to Lee’s Summit in order to compete in the MOST EXPENSIVE 5K I’ve ever signed up for (curse you, procrastination!) so as not to waste the entry fee and miss my “run 12 races in 2012” goal in the last month of the year.

And you know what? Well, if you follow “megarunr” on Twitter you do, but…

I WON.

I won a race! Holy crap! How sweet is that? What a perfect wrap-up to the year. I did not see that one coming.ย Here’s how it happened…and thanks to See KC Run, I can tell the story with pictures. (http://www.seekcrun.com/htmdocs/2012events/12-15-12candy.html)

The day was warm-ish, but overcast and annoyingly windy. I spent my pre-race minutes actually attempting to warm up…running, stretching, and reevaluating my racing attire. It seemed that most of the other runners were WAY too bundled up. This was probably a clue to me that most of the other runners were there for the costume contest and/or to jog with their kids, but at that point I remained oblivious.

Documentation of me stretching. Also, in the background: tights? gloves? It was 47 degrees!

Documentation of me stretching. Also, in the background: tights? gloves? It was 47 degrees!

They counted us down, and then we were off. The course ran near Longview Lake, which has a Christmas lights display. To be honest, I stopped noticing it after about a half mile. Instead, I was looking ahead and realizing that I was maybe the 4th or 5th female runner, and unlike other races the leaders weren’t pulling away from me. I started to wonder if I had even an outside chance of winning the thing.

Of course, at about that time a girl came up on my left shoulder. She was obviously in shape, and she seemed to be perfectly in control. “Well crap,” I thought. “There goes that plan.” I made an effort to stay with her as she surged up a hill, and Runmeter chirped to let me know that I had passed the mile mark. There were no markers on the course, so I’m not sure how close Runmeter was to the actual mile, but it tells me my split was 6:42. The next thing I knew, I was at the 5k turnaround and thinking, “dang it, this isn’t halfway. Where are we making up the difference?” Miss In Shape kept right on going to run the 10k.

GAME ON! I could see now that I was in 3rd, and the lengthy hill before the first turnaround had brought 2nd place back to me. I passed her quickly, then marveled at how excited all the other runners seemed to be to see me. I heard lots of “girl power!” and “you go girl!” It turns out that when you’re in the top 20, and most of the others are guys, you get a little more than the courtesy “good jobs” from fellow runners.

Just before the two mile split, I passed the lead runner on yet another hill. She didn’t make a noticeable effort to go with me, and I experienced an interesting array of emotions. Elation at BEING IN THE LEAD DURING A RACE! combined with anxiety over whether I would be able to maintain said lead, with a generous helping of dismay over my over-confident actions sprinkled on top. It was, “Hooray!” meets “uh-oh” meets “you are an idiot.”

The 3rd mile, predictably, was…unpleasant. With all the little “spurs” shooting off what I thought was going to be a straight out and back course (here…back…over here…back…still over here…annnnnnd back), I was getting really disoriented. How far to the finish? When would I be out of this friggin park? How many hills were left? I started imagining the shame and humiliation of being passed in the last 400m. With my current pace lagging somewhere near 8:00, this appeared to be an unavoidable fate.

I struggled up what I hoped was the last hill, peeking at my watch to realize that I was already over 20:00 into the race. I still wasn’t sure where I was, which to me meant that I might as well be walking, was faaaaaar from the finish line, and was soon to be passed by many people, all of whom would be laughing at my pain. (The last 400m of a race where you went out too fast is a dark place.) I didn’t even believe the GPS when it told me that I had run 3 miles (Split time, 7:12…current pace at that moment, 7:48. Ouch.)

Then, at the top of the hill…I saw it. THE FINISH. Down this hill, make a turn, run down a little more and you’re DONE, Megan. Done! Hooray! My determination renewed, I dug beneath the years spent not running speed workouts, the week spent not running at all, and the fact that — thanks to this cold — my lung capacity was already reduced, and found the remnants of a finishing kick. I “flew” down the hill, listening in disbelief as the announcer informed people that THE FIRST FEMALE FINISHER was on her way (can that really be me?), and crossed the finish line.

This poetic, beautiful moment was captured forever in the following finishing photo:

Oh my.

Oh my.

Dear, sweet goodness. That is the eyes-closed, head-thrown-back, pale-faced look of a person who has run past her fitness level and is soon to throw up.

And I did. Throw up. Ah, the sweet taste of victory.

The other finishing photo, taken less than a second before the other. Here, I look like I’m out for a morning jog. What the?

I called Scott to tell him the BIG NEWS, telling him also that I’d be home as soon as I could. I had left my sick husband alone with a sick toddler, after all, and he was bound to want reinforcements.

“You are staying for awards,” he tells me instead.

“Say what now? You know I hate waiting for awards. It’s going to be forever, there’s a 10k involved here.”

“Megan,” he said, in a tone that also said, “do you realize what a rare event this actually is? Have a little of the patience you’re always requesting in your toddler and stick around for awards.”

“Ooooooookkkkkkk. Fine. I’ll stay. But it’s going to be forever!”

It was not quite forever, and I don’t want to be a whiner here but it was a bit of a disappointment. The main reason I stuck around was to hear them say again, “and the first female finisher, Megan!” They did not say this, because this is the only race in the history of races that did not give out overall awards. Bummer. I got the 1st place award for my age group, which was not nearly as exhilarating because I had gotten an award for my age group in other races this year.

The awards ceremony was anti-climatic for another reason. You see, I received two medals for this race: one just for finishing, and one for winning my age group. One of the medals is fairly cute and has the name of the race stamped on it, and the other is incredibly generic and includes only the name of the personal training studio who sponsored the event. Care to take a guess which is which?

Medals

Medals

You got it. The finisher medal is the pretty one, the medal for WINNING is probably something the trainers give out to their clients for putting forth a good effort in a workout. In 20 (ok, who am I kidding? 5!) years, I’ll look at the thing and say, “did I ever have a personal trainer?” It’s pretty funny. I think maybe I’m going to write on it in a sharpie. Nothing says, “I really did win this race and am not just making things up” quite like permanent marker!

Winner winner, chicken dinner.

Winner winner, chicken dinner.

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