Bear Hill 5K Race Recap
|July 12, 2013||Posted by Lauren under Running|
Since you already know the ending to this story, I figured I should start with a few confessions.
1.) This was a really small race. In its first year. So when I say that I’m excited I won, I also feel like I need to put a little asterisk next to it. Don’t get me wrong…I’ll definitely be telling future Cheese Child about the time we won a race together. But I also realize that it was a very unique circumstance. Not likely to happen anywhere else…or ever again.
2.) That being said, I knew I wanted to win this race before I even showed up at the starting line. Not only was it the inaugural race in my sort of Vermont “hometown,” running through trails that I’ve traveled over countless times, but the prize for the winners was basically a dream come true: a basket of Grafton cheese and a free night stay at the Inn where we were married. How could I hear that and not entertain delusions of taking home the prize for myself? I didn’t think I’d have a real shot at it, but I can’t pretend the thought hadn’t crossed my mind before race day.
3.) After winning said basket of cheese, I once again approached my midwife to ask about aged raw cheese and pregnancy. I figured I was asking a different provider…maybe I’d get a different answer. Spoiler Alert: she didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear. Instead, she seemed to think that even aging something for four years doesn’t make it safe enough to eat during pregnancy (the danger from eating cheese made with raw milk is that it hasn’t been pasteurized, putting you at risk for coming in contact with Listeria…a bacteria that can be particularly nasty toward pregnant women and developing babies). Then again, she’s never actually experienced the cheese herself, so I still sort of doubt she knows what she’s talking about. When a person says to me, “Why risk it? Just stick to Cabot!” I tend not to trust their opinion (sorry Cabot-lovers out there. I know Cabot is also technically Vermont cheese, but I’m telling you…there is no comparison). And now that I’ve made myself sound like a complete and total snot, let’s move on…
Bear Hill 5K Race Recap
Once again, I was nervous about how my body would handle this race because I was so exhausted the night before. After a super early bedtime and a full night’s sleep, however, I woke up feeling a lot better. I think I underestimate the power of sleep all too often…it’s definitely something I need to work on.
Fortunately, the temperature was a little cooler than on Thursday. UNfortunately, it felt even more humid. Evan and I did a short warm up around town and were immediately drenched. Once again, I gave myself a little pep talk: “Just run what the day gives you.”
But when the race started (promptly at 9:00), and runners took off, we went with them. The first half a mile was on pavement, with the benefit of a small downhill. About a quarter of a mile into the race, I looked down at the watch, saw a pace that I shouldn’t even be dreaming about hitting at 4 months pregnant, and immediately dialed it back. It didn’t feel hard (in fact, I felt amazing!) but I knew no good would come from overdoing it within the first mile.
Once again, Evan and I fell into a comfortable pace, keeping up a relatively steady conversation. Much to the annoyance of the runners around us I’m sure. You’re not supposed to be able to talk during a 5K (don’t worry, I secretly hate myself for doing it)! I noticed right away that we were near the front of the pack. There was one guy who immediately took off at the start (see shirtless dude in above picture) and had already developed a significant lead on the rest of the field. But other than that, we were right in it.
After about a half a mile, the course turned to cross a covered bridge (#ilovermont), went through a field, and up the first hill. Now, I can maintain a fairly solid pace on flat ground, but hills are what really do me in. My heart rate skyrockets and it takes a lot more effort than normal to climb to the top. But I just tucked in and tried to steadily work my way up, paying more attention to the effort and my breathing than my actual pace.
Part of the course…obviously taken earlier this year
Once we got into the shade of the trails, everything felt great. We hit the first mile mark and I realized that there was only one woman ahead of me. I knew that the guy who surged ahead at the beginning still had an impressive lead, but the other runner…well, she was within striking distance.
Without saying anything to Evan, I slowly started to reel her in. One step at a time. I told myself to take it easy, bide my time, and see what happened. But the competitor in me smelled blood. Logically I knew I had no business racing. But logic doesn’t always prevail. And my heart was already soaring at the thrill of the chase. There was no way I was going to finish this race without at least trying to see what I could do.
By 1.5 miles into the race all three of us were running together. I didn’t say one word to Evan. I just did a quick surge, worked my way around, and never looked back.
I assumed that they were right behind me. I hadn’t really picked up the pace, and I figured it was only a matter of time before she was at my heels again. But I kept moving forward, determined to at least stay ahead through the trails. If the race came down to a sprint at the end, I knew I’d have no chance. But maybe, if I could slowly increase my lead through the woods, I just might finish ahead.
The third mile was the worst. We climbed up a hill that never seemed to end. The entire time, I kept alternating between encouraging baby (“Good job Baby! You are so amazing!!”…you know, as if he/she could hear me) and warning myself (“Be careful LB. Don’t do anything stupid, LB. Take it easy. Dial it back a bit.” ).
Racing while pregnant is such a strange experience. Runners train themselves to push through pain and fatigue. To ignore little aches and twinges…to thrive on discomfort. A successful race means finding that wall and pushing right through it. Digging deep and dialing into a gear that you didn’t even know existed.
Pregnancy throws all of that out the window. Instead of turning off the parts of your brain that perceive pain, you tune in…waiting for any tweak, twinge, or sign that things aren’t quite as they should be. And pushing yourself to exhaustion is completely off-limits. So whenever I felt myself getting really tired climbing the hill, I immediately slowed myself down. It didn’t matter that it was a 5K and I was in the final mile with a chance to win. I had to stay smart.
Finally, after climbing for what felt like forever (I’m sure it wasn’t nearly as bad as it seemed), I reached the top of the hill. At this point, I still thought I was in 2nd place overall, but I was determined to win for the women. Evan and the second place female were nowhere in sight. I pressed forward, coming out of the trail, crossing another covered bridge, and headed back onto the pavement for the final 0.4 miles.
A group of spectators watched me go by and said to each other, “There’s the first one!” At first I just figured they meant the first woman, but after a few moments it finally dawned on me that guy I had seen at the beginning must have run the 10K instead (the courses split after the first mile). Baby and I were leading the race!
I rounded a corner into town…ran past the library, general store, and our first house in Vermont. There are no words to describe how happy I felt in that moment. Running on streets that feel like home, rounding the last bend to the finish line. I “surged” up the final hill and crossed the finish in 24:03 (should have pushed for those extra few seconds!!).
Baby’s first race win!
Evan came in about 40 seconds behind. 3rd overall, but 1st male finisher!! (How often does that happen?)
Official Time: 24:03 (7:45); 1st overall
Splits from Garmin:
When we realized that the top male and the top female each received awards, we felt a little guilty. We quickly agreed to give one of our cheese baskets to the woman who came in second (who unfortunately did not get anything), but by the time they got to the awards ceremony she was nowhere to be found.
I have to admit, however…it was pretty cool to hear the Conkey name called as both the winners of the 5K.
Sounds cheesy, but sharing that moment with my husband (and little growing Cheese Baby) will forever be one of the top experiences of my life. Thanks Grafton Ponds for putting on an amazing race! For a tiny inaugural race, the organizers did an excellent job. There were no timing chips, but an official timing company ran everything very efficiently. The course was awesome, there was water everywhere, and I never really worried about going the wrong way on the trails. If you ever find yourself visiting Southern Vermont on 4th of July weekend, I highly recommend registering for this race!
But don’t count on winning the cheese. We’ll be back next year…with a title to hold onto and a little one in tow.