This was my third time running the Memorial Day 8K in Grosse Ile. The first time was in 2011, when it was miserably hot; I swore I'd never run that race again! I didn't run it in 2012, and then in 2013, my family made a last-minute decision to go to the race. The weather was great, and I finished in a pretty awesome time of 40:31 (8:09/mi pace), taking first in my age group (it's a small race!).
The course for this race is fine when the weather is good; but when it's hot, it's REALLY HOT. The race doesn't start until 9:05, and when the sun beats down on you, it's just not very fun. My little brother, Nathan, was really interested in doing the race, so I decided to give it another shot and hope that the weather cooperated.
I somehow talked my kids into doing the one-mile fun run last year, and they agreed to do it again this year--that made me really excited! I've been trying to get them into running, but they really just don't show any interest in it. I didn't even have to beg, though--as soon as I mentioned it, they said sure (probably because they had done it before).
I had picked up our race packets a couple of days ago, so this morning, I got up at 6:00 to get ready (I was up until almost midnight yesterday! We're painting a couple of rooms in our house, and it was a big mess. I'll write more about that tomorrow.) My mom said she would go with us, because then she could watch my kids while I ran the race with Nathan. Jerry had to work today, so it was just the five of us that went.
My mom and Nathan picked us up and we headed to Grosse Ile, which is only about 20 minutes away. We got there pretty early, so we just stood around for a little bit while we waited for the fun run. At 8:30, the kids lined up on the track to start the fun run. I was nervous for my kids, but I was so proud that they were going to do it!
Noah always tells me that when he has to run a mile at school, he walks the whole thing. And I told him that he should always do his best, and that he is perfectly capable of running the whole thing, even if it's slower than his friends. So his goal was to just run the entire mile without walking. Eli wanted to run it because they gave out a piece of candy to the kids at the finish line last year, hahaha.
Anyway, they both did awesome! They finished just shy of 10 minutes. Eli crossed first, and then Noah followed a minute or so later.
|Eli sprinting to the finish line|
|Noah was cruising the last hundred meters|
|Ribbons, but no candy ;)|
It was hot at the starting line. There wasn't a single cloud in the sky, and the sun was beating down. When the race started, I definitely started too fast. I saw that I was running a 7:30 pace, so I said to Nathan, "Woah, 7:30? Definitely too fast." But he kept going! So I just fell back to get closer to an 8:30 pace. I felt pretty good the whole first mile, and finished that mile in 8:18.
Almost immediately after that, though, I started faltering, and quickly. My pace was in the high 8:30's, and it was only the beginning of mile 2. So I thought, "Okay, I guess I'll revise my goal because of the heat. I'll aim for all sub-9:00 miles." I was struggling with that decision, because I kept thinking that it had to just be in my head. But it was awful! The heat was killing me.
I skipped the first water stop, but after that, I KNEW I'd have to get water at the next one. Unfortunately, the next one was at a bad placement. There is 0.3 mile section of the course that goes through the woods on a dirt trail, with lots of rocks and tree roots, and all that good stuff. The trail is narrow, and I knew from past experience that you can't pass anyone on it. The water station was set up just before entering the woods.
I knew that if I stopped for water, a big group of girls was going to cut ahead and enter the woods first, so I'd be stuck behind them. But I needed water badly, so I grabbed a cup and tried to drink it really fast--and of course sputtered out water from choking on it. I tossed the cup in the trash, and then as soon as I turned toward the woods, the big group of girls ran past, and I was stuck behind them. They ran about a 9:30 pace though the woods, so I had no choice but to run that pace.
When we got out of the woods, my split pace had fallen to 9:31, so I doubted I could get that under 9:00 for the fourth mile. I picked up the pace, but not enough, and that split was 9:14. So much for sub-9:00 miles. I then revised my goal again to be a sub-9:00 average pace. That was my worst-case scenario from the beginning.
The last mile of this course is AWFUL in the heat! The sun is directly overhead, there is no shade, and it's just a long straight away of nothing. I really wasn't even sure I'd make it at that point. There was a guy next to me, so I started talking to him, which helped take my mind off of the miserable mile. We talked about marathons--he's done five, and his PR is 4:16, which happens to be my PR, too.
Finally, we entered the football field area, and onto the track. There were a bunch of 5K walkers finishing up, so I picked up the pace the best I could to get around them. Then I saw my mom and kids yelling to me from the bleachers, so I figured I'd better show my kids that I can sprint the last few yards just like they did ;)
As soon as I crossed the finish line, my brother was there holding a cup of water for me--and thank God for that, because they'd run out of water at the finish line! I gulped that down, and caught my breath. Sweat and sunscreen was making my eyes sting. But we did get a picture, at least!
After scarfing down some watermelon, we headed to the car. We got a few blocks away, when Nathan told me that I won third in my age group. I felt bad, but I asked if we could turn around so I could get my award. So they waited in the car while I went to the award ceremony, which had just started when I walked up.
They went through the 5K first, and then the 8K. Last year, I got first in my age group and won a medal. This year, the 8K'ers who placed in their age groups got pint glasses--awesome! Way more fun than a medal ;)
Looking at those numbers made me think that maybe this heat made the race hard for everyone, and not just me?
Nathan ended up finishing in 40:19--12 seconds faster than my PR on this course, hahaha. That was good enough for fourth in his age group, but not good enough for a pint glass ;) Finally, we headed home. My kids went to my mom's for a little while, and Nathan came over for a well-deserved cold beer.
I really enjoyed getting to do this race with him, especially on Memorial Day. He spent a few years in Iraq while he was in the Army, and I am SO grateful that he made it home safe and sound; but I know that there are a lot of families who weren't so lucky, and my heart aches for them. The race itself wasn't fun (that's an understatement), but I am really glad that I went and got to spend time with my family.
As for next year... I highly doubt I'll do this race again!!