I hadn't done an 8K in over 10 years so I went into the race with very little expectations. If you remember, I injured my foot at the end of January and had been resting a lot for the two weeks prior to the race. I ran on Monday for a short easy test run so that I could know how my foot was doing for my follow up appointment on Tuesday. My doctor okay'd me to run and we even discussed what distance would be appropriate given my 25K planned for the next weekend.
|Sunrise on a beautiful race morning!|
|Jody, Kim, and Me|
The 4K race started about 5 minutes before the 8K. It was confusing since the split start was a last minute decision that the race organizers hadn't communicated. They definitely needed a better sound system with over 650 runners...there was some confusion for sure. One thing that the change provided was the chance to watch the 4K group head out...it is so awesome to see the street full of enthusiastic runners. I never stop loving that sight at the start of a race.
I didn't have a race plan for this race. I ran along with friends for the first mile or so and then we turned into the wind. I felt my pace slow and watched my friends pull away. It was okay though because I had my own demons to tackle that day. My foot was not happy and it soon let me know that. As we entered Memorial Park I had thoughts of ditching the race. I could tell that my foot hurt but I was able to keep up my pace and not alter my stride so I kept going. Around that time Caleb from the Rush team caught up to me. He has recently recovered from a stress fracture in his foot so we talked a little about the pain that I was feeling. It felt good to hear some of his experience with recovery even though I was praying that I wasn't going to be in the same boat.
|My friend Mandy was running so fast I completely missed her in this pic!|
We came out of the park and ran around the round-about and then headed towards the highlight of the race route...a trip to Crystal Bridges. Crystal Bridges is a beautiful art museum right in our backyard. It is a true gem and this race was the first to ever cover the main drive as part of the race. The museum has a lot of art in the outdoor spaces including sculptures along both paved and natural trails. The driveway however doesn't contain that much art...but the one piece it does contain is spectacular. I was looking forward to it so much that I carried my phone with me during the race to take it's picture.
|This sculpture is called Yield and always amazes me when I arrive at the museum.|
What I didn't realize was that it was a downhill jaunt down the driveway. I was surprised by the return trip up the driveway but had fun cheering for others as they passed on their way down. One women near me asked how I knew everyone in the race. I told her about the Rush team and told her my theory that if you put out positive energy for others you'll get it in return. It has taken me a long time to realize that a smile truly can change your mental picture in the middle of a race!
|Cheering on Kayle!|
We returned to 2nd street for the race finish and I knew that I was in for another hill treat. Yes, this is another Bentonville race course that managed to finish on a hill. I tried my best to push for the finish and I didn't even pay attention to the clock. I actually never even saw the clock! I stopped my watch but in the post race blur of tired body and foot pain didn't pay much attention. After removing my race chip, I was given a carnation flower by one of the volunteers. It was a great touch for a Valentine's race. I hung out with some of my Rush friends and cheered others in to the finish. My foot was now in serious pain and not happy with me at all. Eventually I decided to check out the race results which were posted near the finish. My chip time came in at 48:00 flat or a 6:00 min/k pace. Yep, per K pace which meant nothing to me. I just limped away happy with my overall time.
|Rush teammates and awesome friends! (clockwise from lower left)|
Kayle, Mandy, Jody, Shannon, Matt, Mark, Pauline, Me, and Cord
Later at breakfast I checked my Garmin to get the minutes per mile conversion and was really happy with my performance. My group of friends had breakfast together at one of the coffee shops off the square. They have a simple selection of healthy breakfast dishes and its one of our post-run hangouts.
Overall, I thought the city did a great job putting on the race. They had the streets virtually closed to all vehicle traffic. The city crews were out at all the intersections and it was great to see them being so supportive of all the runners. There was one water station that we passed by twice which was perfect for a cool day. We also got a 1/4 zip long sleeve pullover instead of a t-shirt. It will be nice to have another light weight long sleeve to run in. The only change that I would make is to start the race closer to the Downtown Activity Center so that runners could have had a warm building to stay in until the race start.
About my time...it was a huge PR by over 6 minutes! I hit the Interwebs to find my previous time from the Potomac Valley Track Club's Go Fourth 8K in 2002. That race was in the heat of July just outside Washington, DC along the Potomac River trail system. It was the only race when I have ever stripped off my t-shirt and ran in just my sports bra...until just before the finish line when I put my shirt back on. My friend Mary and I ran the race and after I think we went outlet shopping with her parents. Below is my 2002 performance...hard to believe that my bum foot 34 year old self kicked my 23 year old's self so big!!!
I'm seriously very proud of myself for staying in the race and dealing with the pain in a healthy way during the race. Mental strength during races is something that I have been working on. I didn't pay much attention to my pace during the race but focused on staying strong, not walking, and sharing positive energy with others. My foot is slowly getting back to normal and the race was probably too much too soon after the injury. I'll go back to rest and plan a smarter comeback and try to prevent any more setbacks like this one. It did mean that I had to take a DNS on my 25K planned for yesterday. I was bummed out but knew that my foot could not handle it.