I experienced my first Bloomsday race on Sunday and I both loved and hated it. The loving happened before the race, the first mile, the last half mile, and the rest of the day. The hating started right in the middle of the first hill and lasted until about mile four or so, then I felt good, until I caught my first glimpse of Doomsday Hill. Wow – it is one long hill.
I even found it mentioned in an article titled Famous Hills in U.S. Races at RunnersWorld.com:
4. Doomsday Hill Where: Lilac Bloomsday Run (12-K), Spokane, Wash., May 3, 2009 When It Hits: After you cross the T. J. Meenach Bridge, at about 4.75 miles How Long, How Hard: .72 miles, rising 145 feet, 3.8 percent average grade; a 6.5 percent grade after a steep downhill How to Conquer It: “I used to run a five-mile uphill climb at 5,000-feet altitude once a week,” says seven-time Bloomsday champ Anne Audain. “After those runs, Doomsday Hill was a breeze.”
My true confession is that I knew if I ran up that hill, especially at the pace I was going, I just might vomit at the top. I knew for certain that I would be in serious pain and that I would not be happy. So I made a decision to be free of the “never walk” mindset, and walk that hill. I walked fast, and I passed many runners as I walked. As soon as I got near the crest of the hill I began to run again and although I felt tired at times, the last few miles were okay.
Prior to Sunday, my entire history of running races consisted of five, two in Seattle when I was 18, one in Yellowstone Park when I was 19, and one ten years ago when I lived in Colorado. I have actually never cared about running fast, or being competitive. I’ve always been content to just cover the distance and do my best to have a reasonable level of fitness.
I would not have run Bloomsday on my own, but a group of friends decided to train and run it together, so I decided to give it a try. At mile two I decided I would never run it again, but then I slowed my pace and settled into something I could maintain for the duration of 7.5 miles. I hope to run it again next year, and improve my time, even if I’m not sure that my time matters!
One thing I learned is that it helps to know the course. As I was running, I could not believe how far apart the mile signs were! Surely they must have been joking when the sign said I had only run three miles and I had over four miles left to go. Near the end, I could not figure out for the life of me where the course was going or how much farther I had to go. People on the sidewalks were yelling, “Way to go – you’re almost there”, but as far as I could see, the end was nowhere is sight.
Then the course took a right turn and there it was – the finish line! I kept plodding along until I realized that the crowd was surging forward. I saw the big clock and it finally occurred to me that I might just care a tiny bit about my time. I picked up my pace and ran as fast as my wobbly legs could carry me for the last block.
I didn’t realize that my stats would be available for all the world to see…I didn’t even know that I would see them. But here they are in all of their internet glory:
Finish Time: 1:16:59
Overall Place: 9,485 out of 44,490
Ran with a pace of 10:19 per mile
The average pace for 45-year-olds was 14:50
Placed 164th among 784 people the same age
Placed 1st among 1 people with the same last name
( I thought this was funny – but I was also surprised that among nearly 45,000 people, there wasn’t one other person with my last name. True, we’re the only family with our name in the local phone book, but still….45,000?)
Placed 3,596th among 26,349 females
Placed 50th out of 447 among 45-year-old females
(This is my favorite stat of all. Next year I would like to place in the top 10% for women my age…we’ll see!)
Other things I learned:
1. My running partner was much more competitive and faster than I was – not to mention fifteen years younger. Once I told her to take off without me, I was happier, and she was too. She finished in 1:12:54 – good job Kelly. It was perfectly fine running alone in a crowd of 45,000.
2. I should have had more to drink before the race and a little more to eat. Somewhere around mile three I grabbed an Otterpop from the sidelines and that made me feel much better.
3. I should have tied my shoes once more before the race. Somehow my left shoe felt loose and floppy and I finally had to stop and tie it.
4. I felt reasonably recovered five minutes after the race, which might be a sign that I should have run a little faster.
5. Nothing can prepare me for running hills more than, well…running hills. I often run on my treadmill and never use the little arrow button that increases the incline. I can also run miles around my hilly town without ever running a big hill – I can detect even the slightest incline and avoid it. As I ran Bloomsday, I had serious regrets about all of the hills I neglected to run while training.
One of the best moments of my day happened Sunday night when I called Signe to see how their group had done (the other half of Team AHOPE). She said that as they ran by one of the bands, the musician called out, “There are more AHOPE runners. They are our favorites!”
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