Here's the short version: We ran a 15 K yesterday (9.32 miles), our longest race distance to date, and I came home with a first-place medal. (Yes, I was the only one in my age group.)
So this race was actually a lot of fun. We've been training on hills for a few weeks specifically in preparation for this race, and it certainly paid off. The first hill tired me out, but then it was pretty early on-- not even mile 2-- and my legs weren't quite up to speed yet. There were two hills in the final two miles. I've spent the last couple of weeks dreading those two hills, but you know what? They weren't hard at all. All that needless worrying. :)
Long version (can't say you weren't warned):
So anyway, I must give full credit to my faithful iPod, which is what got me through the race and into a very satisfactory 11:11 pace (for a 1:44:06 finish). I stayed up later than I should have done on Friday night, getting all my favourite songs in order at the top of my playlist, because I knew I would need them. Unfortunately for Chad, this meant his race was punctuated with my saying, "I love this song!" every few minutes. (There's nothing stopping him from getting his own iPod to tune me out.) This also meant that I got up later than I probably should have done before the race, so I ended up eating a bowl of oatmeal only 30 minutes before race time. But, I learned the (unfortunately) hard way last month that skipping breakfast on race day is a bad, bad idea. Actually, apart from a short-lived side stitch, the oatmeal didn't bother me too much, so I was pretty happy about that.
So, here's the 15 K playlist:
Ready to Run (I'm not actually that wild about this song, but it seemed apt)
Wonderwall (I would not dare run a race without this song; it pulls me through long training runs, and gives me a boost in every race.)
Salt and Light (LCU's Best Friends version from a few years ago)
What if I Stumble (also seemed apt)
Super Trouper (gotta have my Abba)
Waterloo (ditto; also apt)
Driftwood (I just like this one)
There She Goes (made me smile around mile 5)
I Am Persuaded (Robin Mark makes everything easier)
Phoenix from the Flames (I'm really not sure why I put this one on, but it helped)
I actually had a lot more in the queue, but these got me from mile 2 to mile 6, and then I was ready to listen to my feet hit the pavement for a mile or two. Chad dropped off from my pace at about 7.5 miles, so I was running solo. That close to the finish, I needed some extra motivation (especially since I was looking at the afore-mentioned hills), so I put the earbuds back in, and started over with Wonderwall. Just before mile 8, I caught up with the woman who had been ahead of us the entire race. This is one of many reasons I could never be a serious competitive runner; I feel really bad passing someone who has been ahead of me for most of the race. It's like I feel they deserve to finish better than me because they've had a faster race overall. The fact that I've done it to several different people in just about every race we've run (all except for the one when I finished dead last) doesn't stop the pangs of guilt from coming over me every time. :)
Anyway! Waterloo started playing when I was a block from the finish, so the aptly-placed song became even more so. Coming in so late, there was a huge crowd at the finish line to cheer me in; the combination of the cheers, the song, a glimpse of my time, and the sight of a camera pointing at me for my finish-line photo was enough for me to smile as I crossed the line. (That doesn't guarantee a good picture; the last time I smiled for the camera, I just looked like I was in pain. Which I was.) Chad came in a minute later, chasing (and passing-- he doesn't have any guilt) the woman I had already passed, sprinting to the finish to the cheers of the assembled runners. It really was a brilliant finish-- and then he got some water and sat down, and didn't move again for about 10 minutes.
I have to admit I was gobsmacked when they called my name for a medal; I didn't look at the posted results to try to guess my place like I usually do, because I was busy getting water and an orange before the awards. I didn't feel like passing out this time around like I did last month; I felt really good at the end of the race. I still feel really good actually, even though I am ridiculously sore.
Yeah, okay, this is getting long enough for three posts. Hope you haven't fallen asleep reading it. If you made it this far, you deserve a medal; but you can't have mine!