This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Coach Bubba's 20K Race Report

I was worried and nervous about this race.

I ran it last year at 2:08:25. This was the first race of last year that I disappointed myself (the second one would be Run for the Oaks almost a month later). The year before I had finished in 1:59:30.

My goal early last year was not to push myself in any training; do a maintenance kind of thing and run what I could run. And even though that was my intention, which included not worrying about my pace and times, in the end, it did bother me.

So I truly wanted to beat not just last year's time, but the time from the year before. But the idea of keeping 9:30s pace scared the shit out of me, especially after a sluggish week of runs.

Before I was able to jump out of bed with excitement this morning, I dreamt that I camped (in a camper trailer) near the start of the race and *still* couldn't make the start on time. In one part of the dream, I couldn't find my bib number and cried inconsolably, while my dad tried to console me while I tore his heart to pieces in my grief (over my bib number).

Later, I couldn't find socks -- after hearing the countdown to the start of the race -- so I was already running late and now, where are my socks? And I thought back to real life, how I had arranged everything last night -- with my socks -- and why, back in the dream, I couldn't find them. I tried to put on a pair of Tim's but they were way too big (still in the dream) so I considered running sockless, but knew that would not work for 12.4 miles. Eventually, I think I started at 8:36, for an 8AM start.

So that was the dream...and when the alarm woke me at 6AM, I didn't want to get out of bed.

We make it -- well before start time (which was actually at 8:30 in real life). I got my chip, hit the port-a-potty, then went for my warm-up run.

It was another cold morning. But I didn't get pissed, as I have the past few days. I was decked out in my usual below-50 degree attire: tights, then running tights, two pairs of socks, tank, long shirt, fleece jacket, fleece beanie cap, big ass cotton gloves, and sunglasses. NO ONE WOULD EVER KNOW IT WAS ME, I'm so covered up.

I ran about eight minutes of my intended 12 minute warm-up. I was just running around, sort of in circles, when I saw $Bill and decided to stop short...especially knowing he had ran two miles to the start.

We chatted. Bill took a picture of some dude (dude's camera) who wanted a pic of himself with the Start in the background. We got to the back of the start and then suddenly, we hear the gun. So we're off!

I wasn't sure what I intended to do. I just knew what I *wanted* to do but whether I wanted to do that _after_ I started running would be another question. So I stuck with the intial crowd for a bit and then thought I would just go a little faster...not much!

I noticed, during the splits, that my GPS would go off about 30 seconds before the actual mile marker. Well, that meant each second would be precious with my official time, since it's gun time that would be recorded. For the first few miles, when I could do the math in my head, I noticed that I was doing around 9:20s. I tried not to think (as Tim instructed me to the car, as I talked about my dream, he said "for one year, can you just run and not think?!?") and just run. Let the pace come to me.

And for the first six or so miles, that wasn't too hard to do. I could handle the hills and, if you can believe it, I liked them. Not so much the ups, but I loved the downs. And since there were so many, I gained great appreciation for the pattern of going up and being rewarded with going back down.

For one small midgen of a mile, I found a runner's high. But it either went away, or I got scared, or got a hill, but whatever happened, it didn't last long.

It seemed to take forever to get to the American Tobacco Trail (ATT) but once I got there, I felt like I reached Phase 2 of the run.

Phase 1: Getting through the hills of the neighborhoods.

Phase 2: Getting on the ATT

Phase 3: The route to the finish after the turn-around on the ATT.

This part wasn't too bad. I saw the first guy running back @ his 10 mile mark, my 6-7ish mile mark. I still thought: he's running hard and I am too, but not as hard as he is. That didn't make me go faster. :)

Closing in on the turn-around, which is not quite nine miles, I started feeling like I didn't want to do this anymore.

At around 10 miles, I thought: I'm so done with these long races. Why do I do this? It sucks. I want to walk but I'm not going to. Why do I do this? I am not doing the 10 miler in April. And I am not doing Coach Bubba again. And forget anymore halfs. They are too long. I'm done. I'M DONE! Where is the GD mile marker for 11? Why the hell are these miles so far apart? This is ridiculous!

I finally get to mile 11 and I am just sick and tired of how long these miles are so far apart. I still have 1.4 miles to go! Which is NOTHING if it weren't for the fact that THESE PARTICULAR MILES are longer than regular miles.

Finally, I see the balloons but the finish is further from the balloons. Why the hell did they put balloons up to make me think THAT was the finish? The finish is too far away! UGH. When will I be done??? I cannot wait until I am done!!!

And so, all of that went away when I heard Marian yell "THERE'S CINDY!" and down the line, I saw Tim and Mi-Mi cheering me on. All the pain, the agony, frustration, anger, etc. all came to my final runner's high. I saw the race clock at 1:55:05 and I knew that I would beat my PR.

I was so thrilled. I beat my time. I ran steady-eddie. I "just kept swimming". And I actually enjoyed (the first half of) it. :-)

My final time: 1:55:14. I was able to memorize two major splits (I practiced memorizing it as part of my 'not thinking' and just running the race):

5K: 28:52
10K: 57:21

My next race is Run for the Oaks next month. Yes, the other race I was not happy with last year. Which means another race for me, in which my goal needs to be "don't think, just run".


  1. Wow, Cindy, congrats on getting a PR. This is awesome. I loved your description of how you felt during the race. And my Garmin does the same thing - it says youve run 10 miles, but the course says you are only at 9.8 or something. A 20K is a longggggg way, but you made it under 2 hours, which means you can do a half in under 2 hours _ if thats your next long race. Nice job.

  2. Thanks Kevin! I thought of your marathon race report about how you wanted to just fall down to the ground and throw a tantrum!

    But it was a great race and my next race is a 5K, which is just as daunting because I need to beat a 25:30 PR -- like an 8 mn mile!! Yikes!!!