1) There was a Schwaggle for running both the 10k and 5k of the Wrigley River Run 10k/5k in Long Beach. I like Long Beach and I like cheap stuff so...
2) My 10k PR (44:45) was one I thought I could most likely break since it was set when I wasn't very well trained. Rational or not, my running confidence has taken a beating lately so I figured this was a good way to build confidence and avoid having a giant running shoe bonfire.
Saturday morning, I woke up at 5:30 AM feeling surprisingly non-ticked off at being up that early. I was ridiculously nervous like usual and dressed in all of the running clothes I associate with good races. Superstition... can't hurt, right ?
I drove up to Long Beach, parked and walked over. We were right in the middle of some busy streets with neighborhoods right next door so I'm pretty sure the people living there enjoyed the crowds waking them up at 7AM.
At the start line, I scoped out the girls, and it didn't look like any were wearing racers. Not that this is a 100% indicator, but I've found this to be the best indicator of spotting super elite talented people. I'd say I'm ashamed of scoping out women at the start but I am not!
We lined up and we were off! For the first half mile I kept looking at my Garmin and seeing paces like 6:18 so I forced myself to slow down to the mid to upper 6's. Preventing my sprinting at the start of races is the whole reason I own a Garmin.
At mile 1 (6:40) there was a water stop and the volunteers weren't really ready for the crowds so I took like four cups from the table. Then I frantically apologized to the volunteers who were understandably looking at me like a crazy person!
That was also right around the time that the guys around me starting pointing out the woman about 10 meters ahead of me and saying "That's the first woman. Go get her.". I'm not one to say no to something like that and I felt pretty good so I passed her.
I've never been in the lead of a race (even a small one like this), and it was instantly a terrifying experience. At that point you're just being chased down, right? But a small voice in my head said "KEEP THIS UP AND YOU MIGHT WIN THE 1st PLACE $100 SHOE GIFT CERTIFICATE!!!".
Mile 2 and 3 clicked off in 6:45 and 6:47. A couple people said things to me like "First woman! The second woman is close!". Yikes.
By mile 4, I was starting to get tired. Some dude started running next to me and he sounded like he was near death. He was making so much noise I could have sworn he was Chewbacca in another life.
I kept looking at my Garmin and telling myself to keep the pace below 7. But this was getting harder and harder to do. Some other mantras I told myself through the race were "Of course you're hurting, dumbass! You're running a race. Embrace your discomfort!". And more embarrassingly "Pretend you're a Game Of Thrones character!".
Yes...I even race like a nerd.
At mile 5 (34:10ish split), I heard some heavy but distinctly woman-ly sounding heavy breathing behind me. I was getting passed. As she passed me, I said something like "Go get it, but I'm going to try to hang with you.".
Hang with her I did not. But still, as she ran further and further ahead of me, I tried to catch her for the rest of the race. I have no doubt she pushed me to run harder than I would have otherwise.
"Just one 800 left. Pretend you're running an 800. You do damn 800s in your sleep"
So I ran in, and to my surprise, the clock read in the low 42s.
42:22. 6:49 pace. 2nd woman overall. (Which of course means...no free shoes.)
Who cares though, I was so happy. I get that I'm not breaking any records, but according to the running calculators, this is the best race I've ever run. I'm thankful to still be improving.
I went to go find the first place woman and she was pretty cool. I told her she'd won a gift certificate and she seemed pretty pumped about that.
A really cool thing about the race, is that there's a 5k right after the 10k and you can sign up for both for almost the same price! So I lined back up for the 5k and took it as a cooldown. It was pretty cool to be more relaxed, for once. Turns out...#1 in the 10k went out and ran a 21 flat 5k right afterwards. But who's stalking her? Certainly not me.
You know what the best part of the race was?
They are not playing around when it comes to the after race food spread! Wrigley had countless oranges and watermelons (Monica you must do this next year) and delicious pizza. Call me old fashioned, but this kicks the butt of the random nutritional stuff they serve at most races. The greasy pizza and juicy watermelon was a dream come true!
On a lark, I went to a couple of the guys in charge of the race and asked them if there was a prize for 2nd place. They said something along the lines that I got a high five. We all laughed and I appreciated them putting me a little in my place. Somehow that was the cherry on top of this awesome, old-school, and well-run race.
So thank you, Wrigley: You gave me a PR, renewed confidence, and a crapload of watermelon. And really, that's all a girl like me needs.