Saturday marked my 3rd running of the 5/3 River Bank Run 25k. For those in West Michigan, this is THE spring race event and is the 25k national championship race. This year, those uber fast folks could also attempt to make the half marathon Olympic Trials as part of the race. I'm not sure how many attempted it, but what a cool opportunity for the elites.
I haven't been super healthy from a running standpoint and for the past couple weeks, I've been barely getting through my long runs and my weekly shorter runs have been more walks than anything else. To say I had very low expectations for this race would be an understatement. I was even debating whether to even show up Saturday morning but because I ran the Gazelle Girl Half a few weeks ago and paid all sorts of money to run this one (and get the Double Down medal), I knew I would at least make it to the start. My goal was just one foot in front of the other until the finish line, no matter how long it took.
Not feeling confident about my ability to run, I set up Runmeter to intervals (2:30 run/:30 walk). I wasn't using my Garmin for this race either because I haven't been timing my runs and it would have only stressed me out.
Saturday morning's weather was crappy as per RBR usual. Some years it's freezing, others are roasting, most of the time it's raining. Yesterday was humidity, warmth (mid-60s), and rain. Lots and lots of rain. I woke up at 4am to the downpour. Because this race is only about 15 minutes from my house, I figured I'd get downtown in plenty of time to park and get to the start. Sadly, got a little bit of a late start but it ended up working out ok. Our church is only a few blocks from the start and we were able to park there and wait inside where it was warm and dry. We even watched a bunch of the 5k and 10k runners go by.
I wandered down to the start about 20 minutes before the gun and found a few friends in the crowd. The crowd was significantly smaller than in previous years and I'd love to see how many DNS's there were because of the weather. I had started my playlist before I walked down from church and tucked my phone into two ziplock bags in my fuelbelt. The gun went off and I took off running with the 11 m/m mile pace group just a little bit ahead of me.
My achilles was squaking at me but it wasn't horrible so I just kept running nice and easy, with walks just to grab water at the aid stations about every 1.5 miles. I made it through the little downtown area and into the trail system feeling pretty good. It was around 3 or 4 miles in that my friend Tim tapped me on the shoulder and said "hi". He and our friend Joe were right behind me. I played rabbit for them until just after mile 8 when I ducked into a bathroom. I was clearly well hydrated.
I hit the 1/2 way mark still feeling pretty good. Much better than expected. I actually felt the strongest through the hills on Butterworth. My playlist was outstanding and in this section I was singing outloud to Uptown Funk, Pour Some Sugar on Me, and Dear Future Husband. The people around me were quite entertained.
Just after mile 11 or so I came across Lake Butterworth. (Thank you to Pete for posting a picture and letting me steal it.) I had to laugh out loud as lines of runners went through mud and a giant briar patch to get around the massive puddle. People who went through it said it was up to about mid-calf. I debated for a few seconds about just running through since my feet were soaked anyway, but I decided to go around and ended up with mud soaking through my Newtons. I needed new shoes anyway.
We came out of the hills and back into town around mile 12 and I still couldn't believe how good I felt. I was getting tired but other than those water station walks and my mud trek, I'd been running the whole thing.
Then the wheels fell off. Somewhere around mile 12.5 my legs just said NOPE and started cramping up. My stomach started hurting and I felt like even when I was running that I wasn't moving. I realized I hadn't taken any gels since mile 8 so I took another around the 13 mile mark. I made it to the half marathon mat and then started paying attention to the intervals that had been talking to me the whole race. I was pretty sure my unspoken sub-3 hour goal was gone at this point and I just wanted to get to the end.
|from Wood TV via my daughter - I'm *almost* famous!|
For the last 2.5 miles of the race, all I wanted to do was stop running but I made myself run those dang 2 1/2 minute intervals, even if the run wasn't much faster than the walks. On Lake Michigan Drive, I was my friend, Tammie, cheering and I went over to get a much needed hug. I think I told her I felt like shit and she said I looked better than shit so to keep running. I wanted to run the last mile but even in that section I did my walks because mentally and physically I was done. The last 1/4 mile or so is up a hill that feels like it's straight up but it really isn't. My legs were toast but I ran that last section with all I had and even managed to chick a couple guys. Go me!
I crossed the finish line and the clock read 3:06 something, so I was pretty sure I was over 3 hours. I didn't really care but I sorta did. My legs were one giant pile of cramp and I was having a hard time walking and I was crying. Interestingly, my sports med doc was working the finish line and he came over to me and put his arm around me. I know he was just doing his job and making sure I wasn't going to fall over, but it was so nice to see a familiar face. We walked with him holding me up for a little bit until I said I was ok and he gave me a big hug. I somehow made it the rest of the way through the finish shoot.
I was so happy to get those 2 medals. I sat down on the steps of Calder Plaza and somehow my friends found me there. Good thing. I'd have never gotten back up without their help.
I LOVE the medal this year and getting the Double Down for also running Gazelle Girl was a great touch. This is the first year (outside of the 35th Anniversary race that I spectated in my boot) that the RBR has had a new medal design. It's beautiful! The Gazelle one says Finish2 for Finished Squared and the logos for both races are on the back.
When I realized I could scan my bib to get my official results, I think I SQUEEE'd out loud in the car when I saw I just eeked out a sub-3 hour finish! For running one of my worst races as far as pace goes, I'm happy with this one. I fought for that finish starting about 2 weeks ago right up until I crossed that finish line.
Will I run the 25k here again? I really don't know. I think I need a serious running break from distance runs and even a break from running in general. I hated the shirt this year. I wore it for a couple hours after the race and it will probably never see the light of day again - it's WAY too big and even though I paid extra for a tech shirt, there were no exchanges for tech. So annoying. The weather is always iffy for this one but at least I earned a little Michigan runner girl cred back for running in the soup after hardly running outside all winter long. I figure I have until next January or so before I have to decide.