Firecracker 4-miler Recap
|July 5, 2013||Posted by Lauren under Running|
Yesterday, at almost 16 weeks pregnant (15w5d!), baby and I ran our first real race together (not counting the GOTR 5K). And despite the fact that it was hilly, hot, and humid, I’m happy to report that Cheese Baby did great!!
I have so many thoughts about racing while pregnant that I’ll probably cover in a later post…you know, once I have more than just the one race under my belt (and so possibly know what I’m talking about). But overall I can say that it felt so good to be out there again. And holding myself back was both harder and easier than I expected.
It was tough not to have goals in my head leading up to the race. Even though I kept saying “I’m just excited to get out there again!” and even though I accept the fact that I’m not in control of my body anymore…I’ve got a tiny little human calling the shots now. But I’m a runner, and I’m naturally competitive. I couldn’t expect all of that to disappear the instant I found out I was pregnant.
I told Evan that my goal was to keep an 8:00 minute pace for the entire thing. But really I was hoping I’d be able to go faster. I figured if I could shoot for a pace about a minute slower than what I would’ve wanted pre-pregnancy (so 7:45s or below), I’d be happy. But that all depended on how I was feeling and the temperature.
Awkward crotch shot to show off my new favorite pair of running shorts
Unfortunately, leading up to the race it seemed like the worst case scenario was going to play out. The night before I was so tired that I was in bed by 8:30. And the next morning came sunny, hot and humid — after more than a week straight of rain. I tried to let go of my goals and remind myself that at this point, I really am happy to be out there (okay…mostly happy to just be out there).
We got to the start of the Bill Powers Memorial Firecracker 4-miler in plenty of time to pick up our numbers, run a slow warm-up mile, and go to the bathroom about 7,000 times. This was a low-key, low budget affair. No t-shirt, no chip timing, no real starting line (but for $10, what do you expect?). Just a group of runners out for a competitive run on a steamy 4th of July morning.
Right before the start, the race director walked us up to the starting area (at which time I found myself scoping out the competition — targeting women I’d normally want to stick with during the race…and instead just thinking next year, ladies, next year…), told us someone on a bike would be leading the runners, and tried to give a quick overview of the course. And then — we were off.
Like you’d expect, everyone surged out the second the gun went off. I was the official time-keeper for Evan and I, so I knew we were going faster than the 8:00 minute pace I had promised we’d start with. But I felt great! We quickly settled into a relaxed pace and I made an effort to keep up a regular stream of conversation the entire way — both to test my own breathing and to reassure my nervous husband that I really wasn’t pushing hard.
The course started off with a long uphill climb. Fortunately most of the climb was in the shade, but I already found myself cursing my choice of race attire. In an effort to be festive, I wore the only running shirt I own that has some red in it — and it was way too heavy for a race in 80 degrees + humidity. I remarked to Evan that if I wasn’t pregnant, I’d be running in just a sports bra. To which he replied: Why do you care now?
Mile 1: 7:35
I saw that pace and secretly rejoiced, telling Baby (and Evan) to just hang on to sub-8:00s for the rest of the way.
The course continued to wind up and down hills and in and out of the sun. I gave up all pretenses of modesty and tucked my shirt up into the bottom of my sports bra — exposing that sexy gut I’ve been growing for the past 15+ weeks (good thing there was no race photography…not that I noticed, anyway). I felt instantly better once I got some air on my stomach. And that’s when I decided that I’m totally going to embrace the sports bra + shorts look this summer. I don’t even care anymore.
Mile 2: 7:39
I could feel our pace slowing down a little. Evan and I were still running together at this point, and I kept checking in to see how he was doing. I think he was a little concerned with the pace I had set, only because he hasn’t been running much lately and wasn’t expecting himself to be able to keep a sub-8 pace. But I could tell by his breathing and the fact that he could keep up some semblance of conversation that he was just fine. One of these days my secret goal is to get him to go to that pain place…and then he’ll realize how fast he truly is.
I told myself that I’d stick with Evan until the 3rd mile mark, and then, well…we’d see what happened.
Mile 3: 7:41
We hit the third mile mark and immediately started running downhill. I relaxed into the hill, not picking up the pace, but refusing to slow down either. Evan started falling behind a little bit, and I had a brief flash of guilt thinking about what would happen had our situations been reversed. I know for a fact that Evan would never ever drop his pregnant wife in a race, no matter how great he felt. Yet here I was, slowly pulling away from him. I’m lucky that he’s a forgiving man.
The last 0.6 miles or so went up the main street of Brattleboro. The shade had all but disappeared by this point, and I could feel myself getting hot. We climbed up a long hill, past people sitting out for the parade (which was nice, since it made it seem like they were cheering for us), and I told Baby to just hold on for a little while longer. It was the only time in the race that I started feeling a little nervous. I could feel the sun beating down on me and I was torn. I felt amazing. Better than I expected given the conditions. But I was also hot. And the little voice in the back of my head warned me not to push it.
As I climbed the final hill and turned the corner toward the finish, I saw 3 women right ahead of me. 3 women within easy striking distance — women who, on a different day, I would have chased down with every ounce of strength I had left. And for a brief moment yesterday, I contemplated doing the same.
But I didn’t. I held back. First, because I knew I wasn’t going for any sort of record here, and I certainly wasn’t going to place…so what was the point. And secondly, because I knew running all out to the finish wasn’t the smartest choice I could be making…as much as I wanted to (especially since I could see that at least a couple of the girls were in my age group). So like a good, less competitive version of myself, I cruised into the finish right behind them.
Mile 4: 7:37
Official Time: 30:30 (7:38 pace)
Why yes, I wore my racing flats. Because I was planning to be so speedy! Okay, so really it’s because I rarely have a chance to wear them…also, they’re blue, and festive
I can’t pretend that I didn’t look at the official results at the end…or feel a slight annoyance when it was confirmed that the girls who finished right ahead of me were in my age group…or calculate how well I could have done if I had been able to race all out (pretty well overall, I think). I also may have spent some time dissecting the race in my head afterward, wondering if I could have pushed harder, or if I would have been faster if it hadn’t been so hot.
BUT those thoughts were fleeting. Because really, I’m just so happy to have been able to run. To still have a little speed left in my legs and to have a healthy pregnancy that allows me to share my passion with this kid. At one point during the race yesterday, I turned to Evan and exclaimed: “I’m so happy right now!!” And I meant it. Every single run at this point is a blessing. As much as I hope to do this right up until the day I deliver, I know I can’t take anything for granted.
Race 1 of 2 for this week is done! I’m so excited to go out and do it all over again tomorrow!