When I was in my late teens and during my college years, my “marathon mama” used to drag me along to her races on the weekends sometimes. One of those races was the Harvest Classic put on by the Nampa Recreation Center. It really is a great little event and quite well organized. I love the small-town feel, the sweet schwag; they give gift cards to TCBY, gift certificates to Domino’s Pizza and a few other really good restaurant freebies in the goody bags, plus chapstick and a free pass to the Nampa Recreation Center (a value alone of about $8.) They also give race shirts and a chance at 20 really great gift baskets (half go to the 1 mile race and the other half are shared by the 8k and 2 mile race.) There’s a live band, bounce houses, an outdoor climbing wall and delicious baked potatoes, chocolate milk, TCBY frozen yogurt (with the vendor actually juggling small cups of the sweet treat today, which was funny!), Domino’s Pizza and a Franz bread truck handing out a free loaf of bread to every entrant. Not bad for my $20 entry fee or my kid’s $10 per child one! A real bargain if you ask me!
So, Wayne and I brought the five kids out today to enjoy the race, just like my Mom had done with me all those years ago. And my Mom didn’t want to miss the fun, either! She rode her bike onto the course and waited to cheer me on about about 1.25 miles in which was a highlight!
My kids had a great time at the 1 mile race and I got to cheer and take photographs at the finish line. I had ran off to the porta potty for a quick pee after they took off and as I was running back to the finish line I saw my son, Wayne Jr, standing, hands-on-knees and grinning already DONE! I looked at my watch and realized he’d done less than an 8 min mile! I was so proud!!! Next my son Josh finished in about 11 minutes. Then, hot on his heels, my husband came running across with my baby – my 5 year old daughter, Savannah, who had the most determined look on her face as she crossed! Finally, my oldest daughter, Rebecca (who is incredibly thoughtful of her younger siblings and agreed to run with her 7 year old sister, Anneliese) came across the line holding hands as Anneliese cried and clutched her side. Running a race is TOUGH business sometimes!
I gave them all hugs and then they sat on the side as I lined up for the 2 mile race to start. One of my favorite parts of this race is that they warm up the crowd with three Zumba instructors from the Rec Center on a stage off the course. It was so much fun! Last year I got so into the shimmying and shaking that I accidentally danced my way right into an elderly lady! I was much more mindful of my flailing body parts this year and no further injuries were suffered by those lined up near me.
I had written my time from last year on my hand: 15:43. I knew I could beat it and that was the goal today. Last year, I came in 5th female overall and 1st in the 30-39 age group. This year, I was hoping to do better. When they counted down and I took off, I was mindful to hold back on the pace and not get carried away with the crowd. I was pretty amazed when I realized there was an older gentleman speed-walking next to me, hips swinging lightening fast. I glanced at my Garmin and saw we were doing a 7:08 pace! Wow!!!
I eased up and let the crowd surge as I carefully played out my strategy – start conservative, stay steady, then accelerate little-by-little until the final kick. Goal was a negative split. My first mile went well – a 7:32. My average pace last year was 7:51 (something I’d made note of on my hand and focused on beating.) I knew I was doing good and I felt comfortable. I was passing people one by one from the first quarter mile as their too-fast starts caught up with several of them.
As we left the busy street and turned onto a small running path just as my Garmin beeped for 1 mile, the exhaustion started to come. I was halfway done, but still had a mile to go. I remembered this spot from a year ago and how much I’d wanted to walk here. This time I did not feel any desire to walk. It was difficult, but I felt I could manage it and keep it up for another mile. My Mom cheered for me right about here and that was a nice mental boost! Inside I was smiling, but outside I was total focus and heavy, even breathing. I gave her a thumbs up and raced on.
I saw my friend, Julie up ahead, maybe a tenth of a mile or so. I was elated! Julie’s a much faster runner than I am and I had expected her to take the win, so I knew there was a good shot I was in second place. That bolstered my resolve to stay steady and strong and fight the pain and weariness to the end.
We left the path with 3/4 of a mile to go. It was getting hotter and I was tempted to slow down, but I didn’t allow myself to. I just kept plugging along – steady, smooth, forward. As we rounded the corner and got within 1/2 a mile of the finish, I realized it was time to see if I had any “turbo boost” left in my legs. I eased on the gas just a hair. There wasn’t much extra there but I gave it everything I had.
I was still chasing Julie and knew I could not catch her but used her as a rabbit, chasing her down to the final turn. Once I saw the finish line and the crowds, I forced myself to give every last ounce of push I had left and, with my face wrenched up in agony, I crossed the finish line in 14:57 — an improvement over last year’s time by about 43 seconds! I was 12th overall and 2nd place female, to boot! Yeah!!!!! That last mile was, in fact, a negative split. A 7:25 pace.
Wayne and the kids were there taking photos and cheering and they all hugged me and told me I’d done a good job! It was a wonderful race!
Julie came in first female and beat me by about 20 seconds! She is amazing and I was happy to congratulate her on a well-executed race!
The family headed to the baked potato bar, loaded up some spuds and then grabbed some frozen yogurt and water bottles and sat down in the shade and enjoyed the day! It was awesome!