A couple weekends ago I decided to run a VERY last minute race. It was about 12:30am on Saturday night (technically Sunday) when I stumbled across a listing for the Race for the End 5k/10k on Sunday morning. Normally I'm not an impulsive person, but this race had all the right elements going for it... The course was around Whatcom Falls Park in Bellingham and I've been wanting to get out and run in that area. The registration was only $15, even on race day. It was for a good cause - to promote awareness of and try to end domestic violence. And most importantly, it didn't start until 10am, meaning I could still get a fairly good night's sleep.
So I got there Sunday and registered, then had about half an hour to kill before the race started. I hit the bathroom twice and did a bit of dynamic stretching (mostly leg swings) but skipped doing a warm-up run. I ran 24 miles on Saturday, so my plan was to just take the 10k as a slow fun run. I ate a Luna bar at 9am and skipped my usual pre-race GU.
I thought I started out pretty conservatively, but my Garmin says otherwise with a 7:59 first mile. Both the 5k and 10k started at the same time so at first I didn't know who was running what, but the courses split fairly quickly and then things thinned out a lot. There was a turnaround about 1.5 miles in and that's when I realized that there were only a handful of people running the 10k. I also saw that I was the third female.
I still wasn't trying to race, but my legs felt good and the gab slowly started to close between myself and the two women ahead. I ran the second mile in 7:38. I passed one woman and then would have been content just staying on the heels of the first female and letting her set the pace. But as we were coming up on an intersection in the trail, I guess she didn't see the volunteer pointing us to the right and she overshot the turn. At that point I "took the lead".
I ran miles 3 and 4 in 7:40 and 7:03 according to my Garmin. For that fourth mile, either my Garmin was off or I did a great job taking advantage of the downhills because I almost never run a mile that fast. There was a lot of downhill the first portion of the race and I was constantly dreading the fact that eventually we'd have to climb uphill again.
By the time I reached the uphills, I'd put a pretty good distance between myself and the other women and I didn't think they'd be able to catch me. But I still made myself run the hills and not stop to walk. Somewhere on one of the hills I managed to pass a guy and I want to say that I don't think anyone passed me anytime during the race although I'm not positive on that. The fifth mile was my slowest at 8:33.
I got a bit frustrated during the sixth mile because the course met back up with the 5k and I was dodging walkers as well as people just out for a Sunday morning stroll in the park. I ran up on a family with two little girls on bikes right in the middle of the trail and yelled "watch out, watch out, watch out". I'm not sure why I felt compelled to say it three times... I guess to make sure they were paying attention because it's hard to tell what little kids might do. I also had to yell "on your left/right" several times. Afterwards, I wondered if I had been too aggressive in trying to run past everyone. I wasn't going for a PR and I was probably far enough ahead that I could slow down a bit without sacrificing my lead. I don't think I behaved badly, but maybe I could have been a bit more polite?
I ran the sixth mile in 8:11. The mile 6 marker was placed early so at first I thought the course was short, but in the end my Garmin read 6.21 so I guess the course was about right. I picked it up for the last bit of the race - thankfully it was flat - and ran the last .2 at a 7:12 pace.
My official finish time was 48:33 (7:50 pace). Even if I hadn't placed first female, I would have been extremely happy. I honestly did not think I had it in me to run under an 8:00 pace that morning. I felt surprisingly well considering that put me at 30 miles in a span of about 26 hours... although I was definitely more sore than usual on Monday.
There was a great post-race spread with bananas, oranges, bagels, bread, and gluten-free brownies. I got a ribbon for placing first in my age group and a $25 gift certificate to Fairhaven Runners for placing first female. The small turnout worked in my favor, but I felt bad for the organizers because overall it was a terrific event. I think they lacked publicity. If the timing works out, I would definitely consider running this race again next year.